Country music of today is vastly different from country music of the past. I won't pretend to be highly knowledgeable about any of it, so I'll just say that my EARS tell me there's a big difference, and the subject matters appear to have changed. This article verifies my sense about it, if you care to read more.
When I was a young wife and mother, one of our local grocery stores played nothing but country music over their speakers. By the time I walked out with my groceries, I was downright sad. Someone had been singing to me for almost an hour about losing his girlfriend, his job, his truck, and even his dog. Pitiful.
But, I digress.
A couple of weeks ago, on the same day that my husband and I discovered Lynnville, Tennessee (I wrote about it here), we continued our drive into middle Tennessee and found Loretta Lynn's Ranch and the hometown of Minnie Pearl.
HURRICANE MILLS, TN and Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn is now 88 years old, and her mark on country music is unmistakable. She suffered a stroke in 2017 and broke her hip in 2018 but is still living and enjoying her children (four of her six are still alive), grandchildren and the benefits of her hard work.
The list of her accomplishments is remarkable. According to Wikipedia, "Lynn has written more than 160 songs and released 60 albums. She has had 10 No. 1 albums and 16 No. 1 singles on the country charts. Lynn has won three Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, eight Broadcast Music Incorporated awards, 13 Academy of Country Music, eight Country Music Association, and 26 fan-voted Music City News awards. Lynn remains the most awarded woman in country music. She was the first woman in country music to receive a certified gold album for 1967's "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)".
She is tiny in physical stature but a giant in her genre. A tour of the museum on her ranch, appropriately called Coal Miner's Daughter Museum, will give a glimpse of her history. She performed at the White House for five U.S. Presidents and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2013. Her first autobiography was called "Coal Miner's Daughter," and the story was made into a movie in 1980 that was a #1 hit at the box office. Her second autobiography (how many people do you know that have TWO autobiographies?) is called "Still Woman Enough," plus she published a cookbook, "You're Cookin' It Country." I don't know about you, but I'm impressed.
Here are some photos from our visit to her Tennessee home that is referred to as "the 7th largest attraction in Tennessee."
CENTERVILLE, TN and Minnie Pearl
Minnie Pearl was known for her self-deprecating comedy, her greeting of "HowDEE," and her signature hat with the price tag still attached. Her singing, which was a combination of a twang and a screech, was NOT her forte, but she joined in enthusiastically when she had the opportunity.
Here's a YouTube video of a funny clip with Dean Martin to give you a sense of her style.
Minnie Pearl, like Loretta Lynn, was also known for her longstanding contributions to country music, appearing on the Grand Ole Opry stage for over 50 years. In her comedy routines, she used incidents from her days in Centerville, referring to the town as Grinders Switch. She and Loretta Lynn were friends and crossed paths hundreds of times, no doubt waiting behind the curtain for their names to be called. Minnie died in March of 1996, after suffering a couple of debilitating strokes.
We didn't stay long in Centerville because the Hickman County Chamber of Commerce, also known as Grinders Switch Center) (where a display in her honor is supposed to reside) was closed for the day, but we did enjoy making photos of the chicken wire depiction of their most famous citizen. Memorabilia from Minnie's career can be found at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and at the Grand Ole Opry Museum.
The country roads of Middle Tennessee are picturesque and peaceful. I suspect they will be awash with brilliant colors in just a few more weeks. Go for a drive.