Loretta Lynn sang the truth. Period.
Her truth? It didn't cut corners on reproductive rights or two-timing brawls.
It swung open a screen door and invited listeners inside her Kentucky holler. It defined life as a coal miner's daughter, and shared wisdom on long nights when someone comes home blurry-eyed and looking for love.
Her sharp words cut a path for the storytellers who followed, each determined to share life's truth in a song.
Lynn died Tuesday after a singular career in country music storytelling that spans six decades. Digging into her catalog for the first time? Here are a few places to start.
Loretta Lynn dies at 90: The country music legend will be forever remembered for 'Coal Miner's Daughter'
'Coal Miner's Daughter'
Autobiographical and delivered with unabridged authenticity, this 1970 song may be the best three-minute window into what makes Loretta Lynn an unmatched voice in country music. She takes her listener to the Kentucky cabin where she learned life lessons that would be a backbone for her music. As she sings in the opening lines: "Well, I was borned a coal miner's daughter / In a cabin, on a hill in Butcher Holler / We were poor but we had love / That's the one thing that daddy made sure of."
Dolly Parton may have "Jolene," but Loretta Lynn gave the world "Fist City." Written on the road as she worried about closed-door homewrecking beyond her reach, Lynn wrote a warning to women who may seek out her husband Doo Lynn without her consent: "If you don't wanna go to fist city / You better detour around my town."
In 1975, Lynn bucked a country music industry catering to conservative listeners by releasing "The Pill," a liberating anthem that captured a sense of freedom delivered by birth control.
'I'm A Honky Tonk Girl'
Released in 1960, her debut single – written by Lynn before she moved to Nashville and largely self-promoted by the singer and her husband – opened the door for six decades of storytelling to follow.
In 2004, Loretta Lynn embarked on a remarkable career resurgence with help from an unlikely co-pilot: Jack White. White and Lynn The fast-rising rock artist and established country icon teamed for "Van Lear Rose," an album capturing the best of each's world. With Lynn's rich storytelling and White's expansive sonic vision, "Portland, Oregon" made its mark as the best of "Van Lear Rose" and arguably the singer's premier 21st century recording.
'Don’t Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)'
This 1967 tune delivers a simple message that continues to ring true in 2022: "No, don't come home a drinkin' with lovin' on your mind / Just stay out there on the town and see what you can find / 'Cause if you want that kind of love, well, you don't need none of mine / So don't come home a drinkin' with lovin' on your mind."
'You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)'
This song gives listeners a dose of on-the-nose advice told in unassuming words delivered by Lynn's unvarnished drawl.
'Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man'
Lynn collaborated until her final album, "Still Woman Enough," a collection of empowering songs that featured Carrie Underwood, Margo Price and more. She shared songs with the aforementioned Jack White and sang in the supergroup Honky Tonk Angels alongside Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton.
But no collaboration may be more fun to turn up and belt each word like "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man," a time-tested song with Conway Twitty off a duets album of the same name.
'Who's Gonna Miss Me?'
Off her reflective 2016 album "Full Circle," Lynn asks the question: "Who's gonna miss me when I'm gone?" – another moment of truth-telling as she shares a thought connected to life growing old.
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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Loretta Lynn's best songs: 'Coal Miner's Daughter' to 'The Pill'