Jack White’s current tour hit Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night, and to open the show, the Detroit-born rocker who now calls Nashville home chose a very special guest – and one of Tennessee’s most celebrated citizens – 82-year-old country icon Loretta Lynn. The concert commemorated the 10-year anniversary of Lynn’s brilliant Van Lear Rose album, produced by White, who also performed on it.
White’s love of all-things-Loretta and classic country music stretches back even further than a decade. With his ex-wife, White Stripes drummer Meg White, the guitarist covered Lynn’s controversial 1973 hit, “Rated X.” The couple even dedicated their 2001 White Blood Cells album to the Coal Miner’s Daughter. (Watch a fan-shot video of the White Stripes performing “Rated X” at a 2001 Detroit concert above.)
Hero worship aside, how would an entire album that blends White’s distorted guitars with Lynn’s unvarnished Kentucky holler vocals be received? Very well, thank you very much. When Van Lear Rose, named for the Van Lear coal mine where Lynn’s father worked, was released in April 2004, it garnered Lynn, already a Country Music Hall of Famer (not to mention the subject of an Oscar-winning biopic) some of the best reviews of her career. In early 2005, the LP earned the Grammy for Best Country Album and “Portland, Oregon,” was the Grammy winner for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.
“When you work with someone like her, you forget everything else,” White said of Lynn on the red carpet at the 2010 Grammy Salute to Country Music which honored the singer’s six-decades-long career. “You can’t imagine this talent is right in front of your eyes. These things that you’re hearing, they just don’t seem human.”
The 2013 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Lynn said in September of that year that she was “going to go after” White to make a follow-up to Van Lear Rose. Although there’s no word on its progress, Lynn does have a slew of recording projects lined up, having announced a multi-album deal with Sony’s Legacy division last November.