The Untold Truth Of Loretta Lynn

Celebrated country musician Loretta Lynn's life has been rather unusual. As described by AllMusic, the singer hasn't let any challenges get her down. Think about this: She chose to be a singer at a time when most women weren't making the same choice and were spending time at home with their families instead. In fact, once she was famous, Lynn became quickly known as someone who didn't hesitate to challenge the status quo with her songs, which were ahead of their time. According to CBS News, at 25, she was a struggling musician, balancing motherhood with her dreams to make it big in the industry. She was told that she couldn't succeed, but she did it anyway, always focused on her goals.

Lynn has addressed a range of topics in her music, from her difficult childhood to relationship troubles, birth control woes, and more. While it's undeniable that she has witnessed highs and lows in her career as a professional musician, she hasn't let her optimism be brought down by the changing times. In fact, she's still attracting attention even today. Lynn is admired by young fans, who love her style and are drawn to her songs. 

For Loretta Lynn, things have been bittersweet at best. She's gone through a lot in her life, and some of those challenges aren't as widely known. Here's a look at the singer's story, which is equal parts incredible and heartbreaking.

Her childhood was tricky

Loretta Lynn, according to Biography, was born on April 14, 1932, in Kentucky as Loretta Webb. She had seven siblings, and her family had to deal with several challenges, particularly financial troubles during the Great Depression, which understandably made things difficult for them. Theirs was a coal mining family, and they had to learn to adjust, making sure that they didn't waste anything at home and efficiently used the limited resources they had. According to WBUR, Lynn would often find distractions such as music with her family by her side. She said, "When I was growing up with my sisters and brothers, we all sang and rocked the babies to sleep, but that was as far as we ever did."

According Lynn's autobiography, "Coal Miner's Daughter," the singer actively avoided revisiting some parts from her early life after she grew up. She wrote, "I avoid going back to places where there's too much poverty." She added that while she cherishes her memories, she wouldn't want to revisit the painful bits again. Lynn gave an example: She said that they never got to eat ice cream, and the closest they ever got to sampling it was eating snow mixed with sugar and milk. 

She got married really young

Loretta Lynn decided to get married when she was just shy of 16 years old. According to Rolling Stone, Lynn claimed to be even younger in her autobiography, stating that she was 13 years old, but this statement was ultimately proven to be false. She wrote in "Coal Miner's Daughter" that her parents were understandably upset when they found out about her decision to get married at such a young age. They ended up crying all night after they first heard the news.

Her father warned her future husband to never physically hurt his daughter. Meanwhile, her mom told Lynn that she was making a big mistake. She said, "This is something you'll regret for the rest of your life." Nevertheless, Lynn stuck to her guns and exchanged vows with 21-year-old Oliver Lynn, also known as Doolittle Lynn or "Doo." Fun fact: Loretta didn't even know his full legal name until the day of the wedding, having simply referred to him as Doolittle. 

She's a self-taught musician

Loretta Lynn picked up a guitar years after she got married to Oliver. As per History, Lynn was encouraged by her husband to polish her music skills. What's more, he gifted her a $17 Harmony guitar for her birthday (some sources say it was an anniversary present) and motivated her to play. He complimented her voice, saying that she was talented, something that definitely took her by surprise and spurred her to learn.

In "Coal Miner's Daughter," Lynn majorly credited Doolittle for giving her the confidence to pursue a career as a professional musician. She explained, "It wasn't my idea: he told me I could do it. I'd still be a housewife today if he didn't bring that guitar home and then encourage me to be a singer." For her, being "noticed" was a matter of pride and something she didn't take lightly.

It's safe to say Doolittle's gift worked, and Lynn found herself working with local bands and performing at live events. Her first official single, released in 1960, was called "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl."

Loretta Lynn experienced motherhood early

Loretta Lynn revealed in "Coal Miner's Daughter" that she didn't even know what a honeymoon meant when she got hitched. The first few days were very awkward for Lynn as she tried to figure out what being married meant for her. She realized how difficult marriage could be, later writing, "I can't say I recommend getting married at thirteen or fourteen." She added that marriage is a test of its own and puts immense pressure on a relationship.

Plus, Lynn had to learn to embrace her responsibilities really early in life. She'd been married for just a few months when she first started experiencing pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, and she was embarrassed when her doctor told her that she was going to have a baby. When Lynn's husband found out about this, he instructed her to go to her parents' house. Reflecting on this, she wrote that her husband was cheating on her with other women back then. This made things a lot more challenging for Lynn, who was already feeling down and out.

Her husband was an abusive alcoholic

One of the scariest things about Oliver Lynn was the fact that he was an alcoholic and an abusive husband. According to Taste of Country, Loretta so deeply affected by these things, and some of her songs reflected on her experiences at length. Examples worth noting include "Fist City" and "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)."

Loretta Lynn chose to not leave her husband, despite the challenges that were such a huge part of their rocky relationship. As per CBS, the singer was acutely aware of her situation. She said, "It was real lonely. I felt sometimes it was better to be on the bus than to be home... because he was drinking so much." However, Lynn could always stand up for herself. Whenever her husband hit her, she retaliated. She recalled, "He never hit me one time that I didn't hit him back twice."

She further revealed that she only decided to stay put because a broken relationship would have been painful. She said, "I didn't need him but he was my kids' daddy... I had to think of my kids. I can't be that selfish."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website

Lynn lost those closest to her

Loretta Lynn experienced a heartbreaking loss when her son, Jack Benny Lynn, died in 1984. According to PBS, Jack, her oldest son, lost his life in a drowning mishap. In "Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough, a Memoir," Lynn wrote about the tragedy and said that it is one of the toughest things for her to "talk about or think about." Her son, she wrote, died in a river at their ranch. "Jack was small, like my daddy, and he was an easy person to love," she recollected. She also said that she couldn't remember any details from her son's funeral. A doctor said that this was a "'defense mechanism' against a nervous breakdown." 

Lynn adored Jack. She wrote in "Coal Miner's Daughter" that her son was named after one of her favorite comedians. As per USA Today, Lynn also lost her oldest grandson, Jeffrey Allen Lynn, Jack's son, in 2016. Lynn's oldest daughter, Betty Sue, died in 2013. Doolittle passed away in 1996. Lynn, according to CBS, once spoke about how painful it was to lose her husband. She said, "I miss everything about him. There was no decision I ever made without talking it over with him. It's hard because who do you go to now?"

She has had health troubles

Loretta Lynn has faced several setbacks in the past as far as her health is concerned. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the singer had to spend time in the hospital in October 2018 after she experienced some health issues. Additionally, in 2017, she'd suffered a massive stroke and had injured her hip earlier in 2018. A family member took to Facebook to announce her October hospitalization, writing, "I am very sad to report this morning that the Queen of Country Music, Ms. Loretta Lynn has had some setbacks in her recovery and is back in the hospital with some serious issues." They asked for prayers from her fans. They also said that Lynn is a fighter who doesn't give up or give in. Thankfully, the singer recovered and was back home before long. 

Lynn's health has also been widely discussed by the media, something that hasn't gone unnoticed. There were rumors flying around in 2019 that she didn't have much time left and was spending her days at an assisted living center (via Today.) The singer dismissed this, noting, "Well, through the years they've said I'm broke, homeless, cheating, drinking, gone crazy, terminally ill, and even dead! Poor things can't ever get it right."  

Loretta Lynn hasn't shied away from controversy

The thing about Loretta Lynn's music is that she's often used it as a medium to explore difficult and controversial topics. Her song titled "The Pill" was incredibly controversial, as it praised oral contraceptives, something that didn't go down too well with some listeners in 1975 and also drew a lot of media attention (via The Awl). The song was very personal, and Lynn publicly spoke about her views on contraception. She said, "I tell you, if they'd had the pill a little earlier, I think I'd have eaten 'em like popcorn."

More than a few radio stations decided to ban the song. A preacher from Kentucky took it upon himself to criticize Lynn in a sermon and named the stations that had decided to distance themselves from "The Pill." There were 60 names on that list. Nonetheless, the song was widely heard. According to Taste of Country, Lynn saw at least 14 songs being banned during her career, but she never let that discourage her from making more music. 

As far as she was concerned, she wasn't doing anything wrong. She told Parade that she never meant to offend anyone. She said, "I would never set out to write something just for it to shock someone; I am not that clever. It's always been about truth and if that means radio wants to ban it, well that's their problem."

She made an album and wrote a book for her best friend

Loretta Lynn suffered a major loss when one of her closest friends, Patsy Cline, died in a plane crash. Cline was 30 years old. As per ABC News, Lynn never stopped missing her best friend. She even wrote a book on their friendship, called "Me and Patsy: Kicking Up Dust," as well as a tribute album. They were both talented musicians who looked like they were destined for great success in the music industry. Remembering Cline, Lynn once said, "We were two bad ones. If she'd still be around, we'd probably both be in the pen."

By the time Lynn met Cline, the latter was already an experienced musician who was happy to assist Lynn as she got into the industry. They had a lot to talk about: parenthood, music, and relationships. As Lynn said, "Patsy was always there to tell me what was right and what was wrong. She was my big sister that I never had." The pair had some memorable experiences together, such as the time Cline helped Lynn learn how to drive a car. She was generous with her outfits, too, letting Lynn borrow her dresses for public performances.

Sadly, in March 1963, Cline was killed when she was returning home after a performance. However, Lynn never stopped talking about her best friend. She revealed that Cline was always in her thoughts, noting, "A lot of times, not even expecting it, but I'll be sitting and thinking and I'll see Patsy."

Loretta Lynn has faced addiction troubles

Loretta Lynn has previously mentioned that she was addicted to sleeping pills when she was struggling to cope during a difficult period during the 1970s. According to People, her busy, stressful life had led to several health issues, such as blackouts and bleeding ulcers, making everything even more difficult. Lynn was also having trouble getting enough sleep and tried to get some respite by turning to sleeping pills. However, Lynn became addicted and ultimately needed the help of a psychiatrist to get over her addiction.  

Not much is known about Lynn's addiction, but it's clear that she was able to beat it and make a full recovery. Also, the singer wrote in "Coal Miner's Daughter" that she was often misunderstood and accused of being hooked on either pain pills or alcohol. She denied these allegations and stated that she was hurt by the claims. Lynn explained that pain pills were a necessity for her because she had migraine attacks for years and needed something to be able to function. She wrote, "I certainly wasn't taking aspirin to get high, I just wanted my headaches to go away. To tell you the truth, I've always been scared of dope." She further explained that drugs didn't appeal to her and that she was never tempted to try them.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She regrets some parts from her life

While Loretta Lynn is no doubt a source of inspiration for many, she does have some regrets and wishes that she could have done a few things differently in her life. The legend mentioned in a conversation with The Washington Post that she'd missed out on spending enough quality time at home with her family, something that bothered her. Her numerous work commitments meant that she spent a lot of time away from home, and Lynn wasn't exactly a fan. She said, "I think I would have preferred to be a housewife and a mama. I never would have had anything, I know that. But is something everything? I think I would have really enjoyed being home more."

What made things more complex was her relationship with her late husband. According to CBS News, Lynn was acutely aware of the fact that her life was rough, and if she could have been given a second chance, she would not repeat her past mistakes and wouldn't want to relive her experiences. Loneliness was a big part of her life. Her daughter, Cissie, noted that her success didn't take away from one undeniable reality: Lynn was very lonely. Cissie said, "She lived a lonely life ... and so did dad. She has had this unbelievable success but that doesn't make up for lonely. That doesn't make up for coming home one day and your children are all grown up and married."