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SELLERS: The Queen (of Country Music) Is Dead

'Besides being an amazing talent, the thing that’s most disarming about Loretta is there’s no pretense at all about her. ... She just follows her instincts and her instincts are so incredible...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) While the death of Queen Elizabeth II sent ripples through the world, another queen—one from much quainter beginnings—passed away Tuesday,  leaving just as big a gap for fans of country music.

Loretta Lynn, 90, died peacefully at her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennesee, her family announced.

Not only was Lynn an inspiration and a pioneer in the music industry, but she was also a source of fascination due to the remarkable circumstances of her life, rivaling the likes of Johnny Cash (although, unlike Cash, she actually had the chance to watch the Oscar-winning bio-pic about her life).

It’s a story full of many twists and turns, but well enough disseminated in her own work and those about her that I could hardly do it justice recounting her friendship with the late Patsy Cline, her tumultuous but loving marriage, and her balancing act as a wife, mother and music icon.

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As a young reporter, working at my first professional newspaper, I had the opportunity to write a cover story for Charlottesville’s C-VILLE Weekly on one of the many career reinventions Lynn managed to pull off while simultaneously staying true to her roots as a coal-miner’s daughter from Butcher Holler, Kentucky.

At the time, she had just released an album with the White Stripes’s Jack White, Van Lear Rose, that added a rock edge to her country twang—and is a must own for any serious fan of either genre.

Although I did not manage to line up an interview with Lynn herself, I was able to interview Sissy Spacek, whose portrayal of Lynn in the 1980 film Coal Miner’s Daughter won Spacek both a best actress Oscar and a lifelong friend.

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“Besides being an amazing talent, the thing that’s most disarming about Loretta is there’s no pretense at all about her,” Spacek said in the 2005 interview. ” … She just follows her instincts and her instincts are so incredible.”

Sadly, I did not get to see Lynn in concert when she came through that summer, and thus she remained for many years on my must-see list if the opportunity ever presented itself again. But the only tour I ever saw her go on, a 2017 stint, was canceled due to a stroke.

That same year, on a road trip from Virginia to Louisiana, I stopped by her homestead in Hurricane Mills, a sprawling property about an hour west of Nashville on the way to Memphis.

Unfortunately, on the night I passed through, there were no events going on the property, which appeared to have a robust tourism industry that essentially kept the entire community surrounding it on the map.

But it was clear that despite her authenticity and amazing musical talent, there was also a very savvy businesswoman behind the Loretta Lynn brand.

Lynn’s life offers many aspirational lessons: to always remember where one came from and what is most important, whether at the peak of fame or in the humblest of circumstances.

For me, having missed out on the rare chance to see her perform, it is a lesson in recognizing the opportunities that present themselves and the richness of what is laid before us, with no expectation that something better is on the horizon.

As we await another shift on the political front, hoping to redeem America and bring it back from the precipice of ruination in the Nov. 8 election, while lamenting all that has been lost in our culture and society, it’s worth remembering that what makes America truly great does not hinge on who controls the reins of power.

It is the spirit, the sense of identity and the collective memory we share of those values.

For 90 years, we were blessed to have the gift of Loretta Lynn’s music and her example. Now it falls to us to preserve them.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at truthsocial.com/@bensellers.

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