“I’d like to introduce myself…I’m the other woman,” says Loretta Lynn on the third track from her 1963 debut album Loretta Lynn Sings. This was her first major album on Decca and she penned a total of 3 songs on the album.
This album is pure country and is the beginning of a massive stream of hits for Lynn. This record contains her first top 10 hit, “Success,” along with her top 20 hit “The Other Woman.” Not bad for a male dominated country music scene.
The road Lynn rode to stardom was not full of trailblazing female singers, especially not female songwriters. It’s easy to argue that Kitty Wells was the first in 1952 with her self penned, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honkey Tonk Angels.”
Wells was the original. Then came the prodigy.
Five years after Wells entered the music scene, a jar of molasses was broken on every country music fan’s head. Patsy Cline, the undisputed queen of Country music, came out in 1957 with her song “Walkin After Midnight,” which charted at number 2. This was followed by a stream of country music classics that can never be replicated.
Then, around 1960, came a little honky tonk gal, Loretta Lynn. Cline and Lynn became good friends once Lynn started frequenting Nashville and became a hit on the Grand Ole Opry. Unfortunately, both Cline’s career and her friendship were cut short in 1963, around 2 months after Lynn’s debut album.
March 5, 1963, was a dark day for music.
Cline was gaining momentum daily as the top female country artist. This momentum, and all the work and strife that went into it, could not be ignored. Nobody could replace Cline, but someone could pick up where she left off. Although Lynn’s career really took off in the mid 1960’s, it was then that Cline’s legacy was continued.
That’s where Lynn steps in and this album, Loretta Lynn Sings, becomes a pivotal point in music history. This album laid the foundation of what was to come from Lynn through her vocals and songwriting.
Lynn does not just sing, she feels. Sometimes I don’t think she is singing at all. She is making the sounds of pure emotion. That is what comes out on tracks such as “Success,” “The Other Woman,” Act Naturally,” and “Lonesome 7-7203.” All these tracks express heartache and sorrow from what used to be love. Lynn’s phrasing and vocal “give and take” was something not seen in an artist of that time and, quite frankly, is still rivaled today.
But what I love best about this album is “The Girl That I Am Now,” “World of Forgotten People,” and “A Hundred Proof Heartache.” Lynn wrote all three of these songs. The songs serve as a prelude to what was eventually to come. There was something extra in these songs that weren’t in the others. It’s like a twinkle in your eye. Once you hear it, it’s gone, but you know it was there.
Now at 82, Lynn has blessed the world with her God-given gift of writing and feeling through the channel of singing. She has seen controversy, death, sold out stadiums, and extreme success, all while getting supper ready on time for Doo and the kids.
So really, when you think about it, Loretta Lynn is the other woman. Not the one from the song (although it’s one of those tunes that proves I wouldn’t take her in a dark alley), but in country music. She was not Kitty Wells or Patsy Cline, but she was a female brave enough to take music by it’s ponytail and whip it in her direction.
I don’t find Lynn’s vocals in competition with Wells or Cline. They were equally talented, but Lynn kept the momentum going. Many that we consider great today can point their thanks straight back to these three ladies, especially Lynn. She showed that a woman could have a full-fledged successful career in music and stardom.
Now I don’t condone cheatin’, but I’m thankful God Blessed us with the other woman.