“They don’t make ’em like that anymore,” Loretta Lynn says of the Grammy statuette with which she attempted to board a plane after the 1972 ceremony at New York’s Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden. The 84-year-old recalls that the gramophone-shaped trophies both she and singing partner Conway Twitty took home for their duet “After the Fire Is Gone” were in pieces before the aircraft took off for Nashville.
“Me and Conway dropped our Grammys and broke ’em,” Lynn tells Rolling Stone Country with her unmistakable Kentucky-flavored drawl. “They had to build us another one. They were built with little tubes coming out, like a record player, and we broke that little thing off goin’ through the airport. But they gave us another one.”
Nominated for her first Grammy, for the feisty “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’,” exactly 50 years ago – which she lost to Jeannie Seely for “Don’t Touch Me” – Lynn is up for Best Country Album at Sunday’s show, for the unabashedly twangy and powerful Full Circle. But Lynn says she won’t be attending the awards – broken Grammy or not, she’s decidedly against air travel.
“I flew all I’m gonna fly,” the Hall of Famer insists. “The last time they called me and told me they had me booked all over Europe, I said, ‘I hope you all have a good time, ’cause I ain’t goin’ nowhere if I have to fly.’ It’s a scary thought right now.”
The Album nomination puts her in competition with Sturgill Simpson, Keith Urban, Maren Morris and Brandy Clark, but Lynn confesses she doesn’t know much about those records. She prefers watching TV news to tuning into country radio. “I could turn on country music today and two months from now it’ll be the same thing. There’s more carrying on on TV, there’s more excitement in the news than anything else,” she says.
“For God’s sake, march if you want to, but do it with class”
In spite of being a news junkie, the outspoken songwriter of the controversial 1975 pro-birth-control song “The Pill” – one of her few singles to not reach any higher than Number Five – was bemused by the coverage of last month’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
“I think a march is fine,” she says. “But I thought that Madonna and Ashley Judd … they got a little too far out. They should have done it with more class. For God’s sake, march if you want to, but do it with class.”
With regard to newly elected President Trump, Lynn says, “I think they ought to leave him alone and let him do his job. That’s what I think. He’s up there and he’s the president. They need to help him, not hinder him. Everybody ought to pitch in and help, do everything they can to help the man.”
Lynn continues to spend much of her time writing songs and recording with producers John Carter Cash and her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell at the Cash Cabin outside Nashville. Although she’s mum on what will be released next, she teases that there could be a “secret” collaboration in the works.
Sadly, one duet that was never finished was an update of Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again,” featuring the Hag himself. “I was sending it to him the week that he died, to take my voice off one verse and put his voice on,” she explains.
Lynn is also concerned that today’s young country stars, especially the female artists, don’t have the same closeness and camaraderie as she and her contemporaries, including Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette. Lynn and Wynette even worked on a song together in the Nineties, but the tune, “We Ain’t Done Too Bad (For a Couple of Good Ole Girls),” remains unfinished and will never be released.
“When I lost Tammy I just gave up on everything that her and I started,” she says. “She was my closest girlfriend and I miss her so much.”
Nashville will celebrate Loretta Lynn’s 85th birthday in April when the Hall of Fame icon plays a two-night engagement at the Ryman Auditorium, the same venue where she first performed as a guest – and future member – of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960. In August, a career-spanning Lynn exhibit will open at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Grammy Awards air live Sunday, February 12th, on CBS.