For Loretta Lynn, the 1967 hit “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” represented several firsts. After eight Top Ten singles – including seven in a row – the feisty declaration inspired by husband Doolittle’s over-imbibing ways, was the first chart-topping single for the Kentucky-born singer-songwriter. The Number One song on Billboard‘s country chart 50 years ago this week, it wrested the top spot from Jack Greene’s career-high “There Goes My Everything,” on February 11th, 1967. In 1967 and early 1968 she performed “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin'” three times as a featured member of the cast of the syndicated Wilburn Brothers Show. Watch one of those vintage performances above.
The memorable tune also earned Lynn her very first Grammy nomination for Best Country & Western Performance, Female, pitting her against Connie Smith, Dottie West, Jan Howard and Jennie Seely, who won the statuette. The Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’ album was Lynn’s second Number One LP, after You Ain’t Woman Enough, released just a few months earlier, but in 1970 it would become her first gold-certified disc for sales in excess of 500,000 copies. Late in 1967, Lynn and Greene would be the CMA’s first Female and Male Vocalists of the Year, respectively.
Lynn’s most recent Grammy nod, for Best Country Album, saw her Full Circle album creating what truly was a full-circle moment for the enduring entertainer. The 2016 release became her 40th Top Ten country LP and highest-charting ever on the multi-genre Billboard 200. Lynn lost the 2017 Grammy to Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, but the always-candid 84-year-old is less concerned about awards today than she is about what’s happening to country singers when they get into the recording studio.
“Country music is a story and you don’t hear the great stories in the songs today,” Lynn tells Rolling Stone Country. “Usually there’ll be something out of that song that everybody that don’t even sing will go around singin’. There’ll be a line that’s so good that everybody will be singin’ or sayin’ it to somebody else. That don’t happen anymore. We’re movin’ away from country music and that bothers me. If you’re gonna have country music, have country music. A lot of these people in country music, that’s what they wanted to sing was country music. Then they get ’em in the studio and they try to push them pop.”
The long-lasting influence of “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin'” has seen the unforgettable tune covered by dozens of artists including Peggy Sue Wright, Lynn’s younger sister who co-wrote the song with her and would later go on the road with the youngest of their siblings, newest Grand Ole Opry member Crystal Gayle. The three sisters also occasionally perform together. Their older brother, Jay Lee Webb, wrote and recorded an “answer” song, “I Come Home a-Drinkin’,” which reached the Top Thirty in 1967. Webb, who died in 1996, also penned Lynn’s “Your Squaw Is on the Warpath.”
To date Lynn has also performed the tune at nearly every concert. She also did a version with “Harper Valley P.T.A” singer Jeannie C. Riley on the Wilburn Brothers Show in the Sixties. Among the many others who have covered it are Tammy Wynette, Terri Clark, Jamie O’Neal, Gretchen Wilson, and Jason Ringenberg with BR549.