Film Reviews

Loretta Lynn

Still A Mountain Girl (YAP Films - American Masters)

loretta lynnStill A Mountain Girl tells the life story of Loretta Lynn from her hardscrabble upbringing in Butcher Holler, Kentucky to her present day stardom as “The Queen of Country Music.” The film is rich in first hand accounts of how Ms. Lynn came to singing as a bored housewife in rural Washington state. Her husband “Doolittle” recognized her immense talent rooted in bluegrass music, bought her first guitar, arranged her first recording contract and became her manager. Their often tempestuous marriage, and his notorious cheating and drinking, provided the inspiration for her songs to which the common man and woman could relate.

The film features insightful interviews with a cast of characters and who’s who in country music. Jack White, (producer of Lynn’s Grammy-winning album Van Lear Rose) gets emotional and waxes poetic about her storytelling prowess and lyrical depth. Sheryl Crow meditates on her importance as a feminist, and Willie Nelson recounts Ms.Lynn’s connection to Patsy Cline, for whom he provided the megahit “Crazy.” Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood give great a capella demonstrations of how Ms. Lynn’s duets with Conway Twitty helped elevate their singing respectively. “Mississippi Woman, Mississippi Man” is a prime example. With deep affection, Sissy Spacek recounts portraying her in the film “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Their bond is wholehearted, and Loretta refers to her as “my sister.”

Real life family members spin often hilarious yarns, especially Loretta’s son and guitarist Ernest Ray Lynn, though her daughters also speak of the sacrifices their mother made by touring non-stop to support her six children. Though their relationship was often rocky, Loretta stayed married to “Doo,” and their character as sincere, honest people shines through. The family takes pride in how through hard work they overcame adversity and poverty. Performances with her sisters Crystal Gayle and Peggy Sue, as well as by her talented granddaughter Emmy Rose, further enrich the depth of this unique family’s musical legacy. Given their hillbilly roots, it was a revelation to learn that Ms. Lynn is part Cherokee Indian.

Still A Mountain Girl paints an enduring portrait of one of country music’s greatest living legends. Still performing and recording today, Loretta Lynn remains an inspiration across generations. “She’s written anti-war anthems, songs about birth control, pregnancy and divorce, all with a sincerity and honesty that transcends music genres, politics and gender,” said executive producer Elizabeth Trojian of Yap Films Inc. I highly recommend this documentary for those wishing to know more about her life, her influence as a singer, and as a real rags to riches story.

-Michael Cobb

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