Tag Archives: Loretta Lynn

Reflecting On: 20th Century Masters- The Millennium Collection – The Best Of Loretta Lynn

Growing up, I heard Loretta Lynn’s music a lot. Although it took me years to understand the lyrics fully, my love for her music was something I picked up quite early on in life. This album, in particular, was the one I heard the most. While I have since heard her original albums, I always come back to this greatest hits collection.

Release Date: 1999

Style: Traditional Country

People Who Might Like This Album: Fans of female artists, and those who appreciate songs about real emotions

Standout Tracks: The whole album since it’s a greatest hits collection

If you don’t know any of Loretta Lynn’s songs, this is a great place to start. You get to hear about her childhood growing up in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, where her father worked in the coal mines, on “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. There’s also the fantastic “You Ain’t Woman Enough”, where Loretta Lynn tells a woman who’s trying to win over her husband that she isn’t going to let said woman have him. This album also features the classic “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’”, where she tells the previously mentioned husband not to come home after he’s been out drinking all night. There’s also two of her duets with fellow classic country artist, Conway Twitty. As one of the premiere sets of duet partners in country music, you can’t get any better. “Lead Me On” is a fantastic example of a cheating song from both the male and female perspective. Really, the only downside to this album is that it doesn’t contain “Fist City”.

The thing that makes Loretta Lynn so good is that she wrote relatable songs from a woman’s perspective, in a time when nearly all country stars were male. That part hasn’t changed a lot nowadays, which only means that her music applies just as strongly today as it did then. Loretta Lynn wrote about the harsh realities of growing up poor in Kentucky. Her songs discussed what it was like to be a housewife to a husband who didn’t always put her first, and she even talked about jealousy. Her music is very human and real, and it’s something I come back to, time and time again.

Buy the Album on Amazon

Female Fridays: Featuring Kacey Musgraves

I debated about whether or not to do a Female Friday over Kacey Musgraves because she’s probably the most known female in country music besides Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. But being known and being appreciated are two vastly different things, and I think Kacey Musgraves is certainly underappreciated by country radio and many times by country listeners themselves. It’s one thing to know her as the controversial singer of “Follow Your Arrow” and “Biscuits” and quite another to know her as one of the writers of “Fine.” So with that in mind, I decided that Kacey deserves a Female Friday.

How You Might Know Kacey

I’m sure you all know “Follow Your Arrow,” but I’m not going to post that for the aforementioned reasons. Many of you should also know her debut single “Merry Go ‘Round” which won a Grammy for Best Country Song in 2014.

Bio

From a 2013 interview with PrideSource, on her musical influences,

I’ve always loved Dolly Parton and I used to sing her songs when I was little. She’s a great storyteller and that’s probably where I got a lot of my influence from. I love Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson and his truth telling. I love Glen Campbell and a lot of old-school country. I’m really all over the map, but the country I seem to like is a lot older.

From a 2013 interview with The Guardian, on her controversial lyrics,

“Certain kinds of people will always have an issue with my music,” says Musgraves. “But that’s fine, it’s OK. I don’t want to be the McDonald’s of music. I don’t want to not turn anyone off. If you were everybody’s cup of tea, you’d probably be boring.

“I don’t feel that the songs I sing and the music I make are very subversive, but I can see how it would be to some people,” she goes on. “The things I sing about are just what inspires me and what I’ve been exposed to in my life. It’s not like I’ve thought, Ooh, this is a button pusher!”

Kacey Musgraves (born August 21st, 1988, from Golden, Texas), grew up singing and songwriting. She sang western swing music in the clubs around Texas and listened to the aforementioned country artists, along with The Spice Girls and Tom Petty, among others. She dreamed of leaving Golden and eventually did, after placing seventh on Nashville Star in 2007, an experience for which she is glad few remember her. Kacey had self-released three albums before her appearance on the show. In 2008, while living in Austin, she was signed to independent label Triple Pop and recorded two songs, “Apologize” and “See You Again.” She eventually moved to Nashville and was signed to Mercury in 2012.

Kacey Musgraves has released two excellent, critically acclaimed albums, Same Trailer Different Park (2013), and Pageant Material (2015), along with a single called “The Trailer Song” (2014.) Additionally, she can be found singing backing vocals on Dierks Bentley’s 2013 single “Bourbon in Kentucky,” was featured on Josh Abbot Band’s 2011 single “Oh, Tonight,” and is credited with writing many other songs, including several for ABC’s Nashville. Same Trailer Different Park won a Grammy for Best Country Album in 2014, as well as an ACM for Album of the Year. Pageant Material is nominated for this year’s CMA Album of the Year. Kacey’s debut single, “Merry Go ‘Round,” won a Grammy for Best Country Song and charted inside the top ten on Billboard Country Airplay, a remarkable achievement for a woman, a debut single, and a song of such substance. “Merry Go ‘Round” has been certified platinum and “Follow Your Arrow” has been certified gold. “Follow Your Arrow” also became the 2014 CMA Song of the Year.

But it was “Follow Your Arrow,” as well as Pageant Material‘s lead single, “Biscuits,” that typecast her as the controversial singer who supports gay rights and/or anti-religious lyrics. “Follow Your Arrow” does exactly that, with its “Kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that’s what you’re into,”–but that’s not all Kacey is about. She’s been classified by many as the singer who supports casual sex, (“It is What it Is,”) homosexuality, (“Follow Your Arrow,”) anti-religious lyrics and/or lyrics concerning hypocrisy, (“Biscuits”), and smoking pot (“Follow Your Arrow,” “Pageant Material,”) and that’s drawn both criticism and praise. Many praise her for her outspoken, progressive values while others typecast her as only singing about these things and don’t even bother to check out the rest of her discography. That is highly unfortunate, especially if you claim to love country–Kacey is a traditional country artist if I ever heard one, and she shouldn’t be overlooked either because of her values or because of some ill-conceived belief that “controversy” is all she sings about. In fact, her current single, “Dime Store Cowgirl,” is the most personal and least socially controversial song Kacey has ever sent to radio, so hopefully it will get a chance.

Why Kacey Belongs on Country Radio

Kacey Musgraves started out with a top ten hit, but now she has been all but blacklisted from country radio. Why? She’s too “country.” She’s too “controversial.” She supports drug use, gay rights, etc. Well, for one, they played “Merry Go ‘Round” and that was country. Secondly, so she’s controversial…at least there’s something to her lyrics besides “calling dibs” on some “boy.” Thirdly, so it’s okay for Luke Bryan to promote “Strip it Down” on Tinder, for the bros to objectify women–and sing about casual sex, I might add–and for virtually everyone in mainstream country except Carrie Underwood to glorify excessive drinking, but Kacey Musgraves can’t talk about getting high? Talk about hypocrisy. And one more thing: Kacey Musgraves is actually doing something that radio programmers want to do–she’s bringing in a younger audience with her “controversial” brand of country. And guess what? Unlike the people coming to “country” through Kelsea Ballerini, the bros, Sam Hunt, and Taylor Swift–with some exception for early Taylor Swift–these people are being introduced to actual country. We traditionalists advocate balance. We don’t want everything to sound like Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn–we just want some actual country on country radio. Kacey Musgraves is an answer; she brings in a younger demographic while keeping her completely traditional sound.

Tracks I Recommend

For this, I’ll pick the standout tracks from each album separately, in order of awesomeness. I recommend both albums equally; each had highs and lows, and I listen to each one far too much.

Same Trailer, Different Park

1. “It Is What it Is”
2. “Merry Go ‘Round”
3. “Back on the Map”
4. “Silver Lining”
5. “I Miss You”
6. “Follow Your Arrow”
7. “Blowin’ Smoke”

Listen to album

Pageant Material

1. “Pageant Material”
2. “Good Ol’ Boys’ Club”
3. “Somebody to Love”
4. “Dime Store Cowgirl”
5. “Fine”

Listen to album

This was the most country moment of last year’s CMA’s, complete with Loretta Lynn herself.

Female Fridays: Featuring Brandy Clark

Brandy Clark is known more for her songwriting, but she is also a talented singer who has received much critical acclaim. I am excited to feature her on this Female Friday.

How You Might Know Brandy

She’s known for her songwriting, often in connection with Kacey Musgraves and Shane McAnally. These three have co-written many of Kacey’s songs, but perhaps their most notable success is the Miranda Lambert hit “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

Bio

From Brandy Clark’s Web site:

“I get my inspiration from real people who are just surviving their life and getting through their day. That’s who I write songs for,” Clark explains. “I want to write songs for somebody who is working at a bank — if that person could write a song, what they would write. That’s my goal.”

Brandy Clark (born October 9, 1977, from Morton, Washington), was interested in music at an early age. She grew up with and was influenced by the music of Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Merle Haggard. After college, she began taking her music career more seriously. She enrolled at Belmont University in 1998 and studied commercial music. After graduation from Belmont, Brandy got a job with Leadership Music and eventually received a publishing deal.

Brandy has written many notable songs over the years. I already mentioned “Mama’s Broken Heart,” but she also co-wrote The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” and Kacey Musgraves’s “Follow Your Arrow.” Brandy is cited on songs by Reba McEntire, Keith Urban, Wade Bowen, and Sunny Sweeney, just to name a few. In fact, it is worth noting that Brandy was a co-writer of Sunny Sweeney’s “Bad Girl Phase,” which I mentioned in Sunny’s
Female Friday as being the first #1 single by a female artist on the Texas Music Chart. Since this column is about promoting females, it is also worth mentioning that Brandy Clark and Kacey Musgraves became two of only fourteen women to win a CMA for Song of the Year when “Follow Your Arrow” received this distinction in 2014. in Between all the writing for others, Brandy wrote several songs that eventually turned into an EP in 2012 and later into her debut album, 12 Stories, in 2013.

“I was just writing songs. But with titles like ‘Take a Little Pill’ and ‘Day She Got Divorced,’ artists wouldn’t cut those songs. However, they are some of my favorites and, artistically, I fit them,” says Clark , who decided to record her own album after playing “Get High” for her songwriting partner Shane McAnally. “Shane said that I could write a whole record of songs from that woman’s perspective and make an album that no one has ever made. That’s kind of what we did.”

And that’s what her debut album is–an album no one else would make, full of real “stories” of real people. 12 Stories was named by many critics as 2013’s best album–in fact, there are many who would argue that Brandy Clark deserves more recognition than her friend Kacey Musgraves (I am not touching that debate.) Brandy Clark is currently working on her second album; it is due out in 2016.

Why Brandy Belongs on Country Radio

She belongs there for the same reason that Kacey Musgraves does–she’s singing and writing real, relatable songs, and she’s not afraid of the truth. Radio won’t play Kacey for all of these reasons, and also she is too “country.” Brandy is too “country” for country radio too, and the fact that I have to even write this sentence is ridiculous. Brandy Clark was partly responsible for “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Better Dig Two,” and “Follow Your Arrow,” but country radio can’t give her own music a fair chance? I don’t even know how to explain why she belongs on country radio–because in a world where country radio played country songs, Brandy Clark would be on the radio and making #1 hits.

Tracks I Recommend

I hesitate to pick apart what many consider to be the best album of 2013, but these are my personal favorites.

1. What’ll Keep Me Out of Heaven–12 Stories
2. Hold my Hand–12 Stories
3. Pray to Jesus–12 Stories
4. Stripes–12 Stories
5. Hungover–12 Stories

Listen to 12 Stories

The song that made me a fan of Brandy Clark.

Female Fridays: Featuring Angaleena Presley

Last week, I featured her fellow Pistol Annie Ashley Monroe, so this week I thought I would introduce Angaleena Presley.

How You Might Know Angaleena

As mentioned above, she was a member of the Pistol Annies, along with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe.

Bio

Angaleena Presley’s career has been considerably shorter than those of my previously featured females, so naturally her bio would be shorter. However, while digging for Angaleena info–I also knew less about her than the others I have featured–I found two things that together paint a far better and more accurate picture of the Angaleena I listen to than a long list of facts about her career ever could. From Angaleena’s Web site:

If there’s a pedigree for a modern country music star, then Angaleena Presley fits all of the criteria: a coal miner’s daughter; native of Beauty, Kentucky; a direct descendent of the original feuding McCoys; a one-time single mother; a graduate of both the school of hard knocks and college; a former cashier at both Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie. Perhaps best of all the member of Platinum-selling Pistol Annies (with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe) says she “doesn’t know how to not tell the truth”

From an interview with Rolling Stone, in reference to her musical influences:

When I was in college, I was in my dorm and I heard Patty Griffin singing “Sweet Lorraine.” I rose up and was like, “Whoa, she just said a bad word!” Loretta Lynn, she was forthcoming in her songs, but Patty Griffin was just like, “This is how it was: ‘My dad called me a [slut] and [a whore] on my wedding day.'” It opened some kind of Pandora’s box in my creative psyche. I think about a month later I wrote the first song that I thought, “OK, I think I might have something here.”

Angaleena Presley (born September 1st, 1976 in Martin County, Kentucky, and raised in beauty, Kentucky), has indeed gained a reputation for telling “the truth” in her songwriting. After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University, she moved to Nashville in 2000 and soon gained a publishing deal. Through her publisher, she later met Ashley Monroe, which would eventually pay off–but not until 2011, with the formation of the Pistol Annies. As I mentioned last week, they released two excellent albums, Hell on Heels (2011) and Annie Up (2013.) I have already introduced Ashley and Angaleena, and everyone knows Miranda, but I have debated doing an entire Female Friday with Pistol Annies as well, as their music is remarkable in its own right. One of my biggest disappointments last year was the news that Pistol Annies had broken up.

However, the breakup of the Annies was mostly due to the revival of Ashley’s solo career and the beginning of Angaleena’s. Angaleena’s debut album, American Middle Class, was released on October 14, 2014, under Slate Creek Records. It is a traditional country album with some elements of blues and bluegrass mixed in here and there. It does indeed tell the “truth,” containing songs about pregnancy, drug abuse, the bad economy, etc. The album was met with much critical acclaim, and Angaleena finally proved that she could succeed on her own just as Ashley and Miranda had done.

Why Angaleena Belongs on Country Radio

While I do not feel that she is “radio ready” in this current climate like the other women I have featured–they all have songs that lean slightly toward pop country or rock country–she would be ideal for radio if it actually played country instead of everything else. She would benefit if country split into different genres or if Americana started gaining a wider influence and stealing more country artists (this is the direction Kacey Musgraves is heading.) She is a modern day Loretta Lynn, penning songs about real life that she actually lived. I read the quote from her site above and immediately her songs and songs she wrote for Pistol Annies come to mind. She was a coal miner’s daughter from Kentucky, (“American Middle Class” and “Dry County Blues,”) a single mother (“Trading One Heartbreak for Another” and “Housewife’s Prayer” by Pistol Annies and her own song “Drunk,”) a cashier (“Grocery Store,”) etc. I’ll be honest here and say that she was an acquired taste for me both in the Annies and as a solo artist, but there is no question she is a talented singer and songwriter and deserves more recognition. I will also say that while I just described her as an acquired taste, I am glad I took the time to acquire it, because I truly enjoy Angaleena Presley music and am looking forward to her sophomore album.

Tracks I Recommend

Last week, I didn’t want to pick apart Ashley Monroe’s excellent album Like a Rose, feeling that to do so would be a disservice. Many would say the same about the picking apart of Angaleena’s American Middle Class as well. So before I do it, I will say that if you like more twang and/or bluegrass influence, you will like the whole album. There is not a bad song on it lyrically. The purpose of this highlighting of tracks is more to ease newcomers into Angaleena’s style.

1. American Middle Class–American Middle Class
2. Better off Red–American Middle Class
3. All I Ever Wanted–American Middle Class
4. Life of the Party–American Middle Class
5. Drunk–American Middle Class

Listen to American Middle Class

Also, if you are a Texas country fan like me, you should check out JB and the Moonshine Band’s “Black and White” featuring Angaleena Presley. There doesn’t seem to be a YouTube video of that, or I’d post it here. But it’s worth a listen, especially if you don’t end up liking Angaleena’s style.