In one of her best-known songs, Loretta Lynn sings of being a coal miner’s daughter, growing up poor in a cabin in rural Kentucky with her dad, her mom whose fingers were bloody from doing the laundry, and her seven siblings. For Christmas the kids got a new pair of shoes with money made from selling a hog.
The song hits home for me, as it is pretty much the story of my life, with a few minor differences. I’m not a coal miner’s daughter; I’m the son of a garment manufacturer. I didn’t grow up poor in rural Kentucky; I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in middle-class suburbs of New York City. My mom’s fingers never bled from doing laundry, as best as I recall, and I have one brother and one sister. We celebrated Hanukkah, when I got gifts such as Diana Ross’ Greatest Hits and Aretha Franklin’s Ten Years of Gold with money my dad made from selling shmatas. Other than that, the similarities between my life and that of Loretta Lynn are uncanny.
Today Loretta Lynn turns 83 years old, just like me (except for the part about today being my birthday and me being 83). Here are twenty gems from her catalog.
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