Loretta Lynn shamelessly stoked the embers of her own celebrity when she told enthusiastic fans at Town Hall last week that before she returned to performing recently, she'd spent five years at home with her ailing husband. That surprised me not because of her notorious "thankless marriage" to Oliver Lynn, but because Loretta has always worked. A mother at 14, Lynn skipped adolescence and went straight to parenthood, then the stage. A teenage fan of Kitty Wells, who first defended bad girls in 1952 with "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," Loretta celebrated them eight years later with her own "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl." That tune set her vocal style: scouting ahead of the instruments, she doesn't just sing a song, she goes looking for it. Savoring the "n" in "done" against the roof of her mouth in the opening line, "Ever since you left I've done nothing but wrong," she discovers the last three words as if they were the prize in her Cracker Jacks. Our liberation would not be far away from this moment: women became subjects instead of objects in country music, largely through... More >>>