Few artists can claim as diverse or loyal a fan base as country music icon Loretta Lynn, as evidenced by the lineup of artists contributing tracks to tribute album "Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn," due Nov. 9 on Columbia Records. Among the set's contributors are Jack White, Reba McEntire, Kid Rock, Carrie Underwood, Paramore, Steve Earle and Allison Moorer.
The album includes Paramore's take on "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)," Rock delivering "I Know How," Gretchen Wilson's version of "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)," Lucinda Williams' "Somebody Somewhere (Don't Know What He's Missin' Tonight)" and Alan Jackson and Martina McBride's remake of "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man," one of Lynn's classic duets with the late Conway Twitty.
"All the artists have done things with the songs that I didn't do and I love it," Lynn says of the project. "It's great."
White, who produced Lynn's "Van Lear Rose" album (winner of the 2005 Grammy Award for country album of the year), says,"She's so incredibly talented . . . When you work with her, she's actually a genius. She knows exactly what she's doing." He adds, "Every word she writes is from the heart and she means it . . . She's the greatest female singer/songwriter of the 20th century."
On the tribute album, White's band the White Stripes cover Lynn's hit "Rated X." "I thought it was a really shocking thing for her to choose to say in the title of a song," White says. "Who would do that? It would be racy to come out with a song called 'Rated X' right now, and that came out in the '70s."
McEntire says, "I love Loretta Lynn," noting that she chose to record the track "If You're Not Gone Too Long" because "that's the song I warm up with every night before a concert. The band and crew know I'm fixing to go onstage when they hear me sing, 'Gonna wipe these teardrops from my eyes.' "
The timing of the tribute couldn't be better: Lynn is celebrating her 50th anniversary in the music industry this year. Her first single, "Honky Tonk Girl," became a hit in 1960; signature song "Coal Miner's Daughter" was released in 1970 and spawned a biography and the 1980 film that earned Sissy Spacek an Academy Award for best actress.
For the tribute album, Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow join Lynn in reviving "Coal Miner's Daughter," the first single from the album. Sony Music Nashville chairman/CEO Gary Overton says Lynn herself has been calling radio stations to promote the release. ("Well, why not?" Lynn says with a laugh when asked why she made the calls personally.)
"Can you imagine getting that call?" asks Garth Brooks, who escorted Lynn to the Grammy Salute to Country Music Honoring Loretta Lynn event held Oct. 12 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. McEntire hosted the evening, which included performances by Rock, Wilson, McBride, Lynn, Brooks and Lee Ann Womack.
Lynn, Crow and Lambert have shot a video for the new "Coal Miner's Daughter" take. In addition to sending the single to country stations, the album will be serviced to college radio. Online marketing will extend beyond the usual country outlets.
"There's Punk News, the Hype Factor, PopMatters, Twang Nation," Overton says of sites being targeted. "It's cool to like Loretta Lynn," he adds. "With current country, you go to the same places and it does very well, but something like this when you have an icon, we're trying to do a marketing plan that is not just cookie-cutter."