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Published on Sep 6, 2008
Kaylea Harris performing "Coal Miners Daughter" at the Centennial Rodeo Opry in OKC's Historic Stockyards City on the September 6th, 2008
"Coal Miner's Daughter" is an autobiographical 1969 country music song written and made famous by Loretta Lynn. Released in 1970, the song became Lynn's signature song, one of the genre's most widely-known songs, and provided the basis for both her autobiography and a movie on her life. "Coal Miner's Daughter" tells the story of her life growing up "in a cabin on a hill in Butcher Hollar", while her father, Melvin "Ted" Webb, worked all night in the Van Lear coal mine. The song depicts the real story of Lynn's life growing up in rural Kentucky, and discusses how she and her seven siblings lived off of a coal miner's salary ("Daddy loved and raised eight kids on a miner's pay"), and that her father always made sure there was love in the Webb household.
Subsequent verses recall Lynn's other childhood experiences and hardships, such as her mother reading the Bible by a coal-oil light or having bloody fingers from constantly using an abrasive washboard (while doing the family's laundry), ordering shoes from a mail-order catalog, and working so hard every day that everyone slept because "they were tired."
In the song's final verse, the now-adult Lynn returns to her homestead, which has since been abandoned ("Not much left but the floor; nothing lives here anymore ..."). However, she remarks that the "memories of a coal miner's daughter" remain.
"Coal Miner's Daughter" was unlike anything Lynn had ever recorded previously. She had become known for her sassy back-talking songs, including "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)" (an angry-wife's warning to a hard-drinking husband not to come home drunk and intent on making love) and "Fist City" (wherein a married woman threatens her husband's would-be temptress). However, fans quickly reacted to the song with praise and turned the song into one of country music's iconic hits.