Coal Miner's Daughter
In a Nutshell
Back in 1999, a lot of people were worried about the new millennium. People thought that on New Year's Eve all computer operating systems were going to crash and leave the nation in a blackout, without light, food or water (forget about heat or air conditioning). The more paranoid elements purchased generators and stockpiled bottled water and energy bars. Alas, all those trips to Costco were wasted, and on January 1, 2000, business continued as usual. Relief prevailed—but there was maybe a little disappointment, too. Living off the grid might have sounded a little romantic.
Country music legend Loretta Lynn wrote in 2002 that the risk of a great millennial blackout didn't make her even the slightest bit nervous. The reason is simple: "I lived without electricity, indoor plumbing, or central heat every day of my life until I was a grown woman," says Lynn. Her family often hunted for food to avoid going hungry; she'd never heard of air conditioning and didn't see a car until she was 13. Lynn, born in 1934 in rural Eastern Kentucky, lived the life of a coal miner's daughter. In her autobiographical hit "Coal Miner's Daughter," there's definitely no bottled water or back-up generators. But living off the grid ain't the worst thing that can happen to a girl, either.
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Loretta Lynn (vocals)
|Album||Coal Miner's Daughter|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Lynn told her own childhood story in "Coal Miner's Daughter" in 1970, and the song also provided the title for her 1976 memoir and the award-winning 1980 film about her life. Lynn's celebrated biography is a great window into history: the devastation of the Great Depression
, the low wages and terrible labor standards
for rural miners, and the growing role of women in country music
are all a part of her work.
But Lynn's sentimental lament about old-time life in a coal mining town is no less significant these days, when we are still as dependent on coal as we were during World War II
. Can you imagine a romantic country song about being a windmill maintenance man's daughter? Or the son of a solar panel builder? Better start preparing for the years to come.
On the Charts
"Coal Miner's Daughter" was number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for a week in December 1970, after slowly climbing up the chart throughout the year.
"Coal Miner's Daughter" was #13 on CMT's 2003 countdown of the top 100 country songs in history
The song was the only single off of Loretta Lynn's 1970 album Coal Miner's Daughter
, and also provided the title for Lynn's 1976 memoir and a 1980 film about her life. Sissy Spacek won the 1980 Oscar for Best Actress for her performance as Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter
"Coal Miner's Daughter" was ranked #185 of 365 "Songs of the Century"
in a 2001 list released by the Recording Industry Association of America.