Nobody told the truth better than Loretta Lynn, the country music titan who died Oct. 4 at 90. With more than 50 top 10 songs on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart — including 16 No. 1s — her seven-decade career was filled with autobiographical tunes that resonated with millions of people because of her candor and fearlessness.
Though an unabashed country music traditionalist, there was nothing old-fashioned concerning her approach to a lyric. Lynn wasn’t afraid to tackle subjects such as birth control, motherhood and infidelity in a way that had never been done before. Even when country radio banned her over such songs as 1975’s “The Pill,” she was unapologetic about speaking her truth, knowing that her fans could relate to her authentic stories.
Lynn first charted in 1960 with “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” which reached No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. She scored her first top 10 in 1962 with the aptly titled “Success.” Her first No. 1 came in 1966 with the feisty “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind.)”
The lyrical content in her material helped to make her an iconic performer in the 1970s, even landing her on the cover of Newsweek magazine — and becoming the subject of both a best-selling autobiography and an Oscar-winning movie that stands as one of the greatest music-related films of all time.
Here are 10 Loretta Lynn song performances that helped to define — and shape — the legend.