How Loretta Lynn learned to stand up to ‘dirty old men’ — and her husband — thanks to Patsy Cline


Loretta Lynn — the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” who died at 90 Tuesday — had a special bond with another female country legend: Patsy Cline.

The two singers — who were born just five months apart in 1932  — forged a close friendship that was cut short by Cline’s untimely death in a 1963 plane crash. But in a short span of time, Lynn was profoundly inspired by the “Crazy” songbird both personally and professionally, even naming one of her twin daughters Patsy the year after Cline died.

It all started after Lynn dedicated a radio performance of Cline’s song “I Fall to Pieces” to the stricken star when she was recovering from a near-fatal car accident in 1961.

Cline, who was the more established artist at the time, heard Lynn’s rendition and summoned her to the hospital.

“That’s the first time I ever met her,” said Lynn on the 1977 tribute album “I Remember Patsy.”

Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn, whose life was the subject of the Oscar-winning film “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” died at 90 Tuesday.
Getty Images

“Did I know meeting Patsy that day would change my life? No. How could I?” Lynn wrote in her 2020 book “Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust.” “But I knew I’d found a real friend: a great singer, a proud momma, a woman who wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself.”

Cline took Lynn under her wing, helping her to deal with the difficulties of being a woman in the predominantly male country music world while also juggling a family life with a husband and kids. It was Cline who taught Lynn everything from how to drive to how to shave her legs, while encouraging her to wear makeup onstage.

Cline also pushed Lynn to assert herself as a woman in the business by demanding fair pay and standing up to men in the industry. “Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust” recalls that Cline advised Lynn on how to handle the “dirty old men” in the biz long before the MeToo and Time’s Up movements. “You gotta set them straight, little gal,” Cline said. “Show them you don’t go for that kind of thing.”

The book also recounts how, when a shocked Lynn once heard Cline yelling at her manager, it became a teachable moment for her: “Hell’s bells, Loretta!” said Cline. “Those boys are your managers, not your bosses!”

Jessie Mueller and Megan Hilty in "Patsy & Loretta."
Jessie Mueller (left) and Megan Hilty starred as Lynn and Patsy Cline in the 2019 Lifetime movie “Patsy & Loretta.”
Jake Giles Netter

With Cline in her corner, Lynn also became emboldened at home with her husband, Oliver Lynn. “After I met Patsy, life got better for me because I fought back,” she told the Nashville Scene. “Before that, I just took it. I had to. I was 3,000 miles away from my mom and dad and had four little kids. There’s nothin’ I could do about it. But later on, I started speakin’ my mind when things weren’t right.”

And Cline also helped her fellow Country Music Hall of Famer to get in touch with her sexuality. Lynn revealed in “Me & Patsy” that she had never had an orgasm in 15 years of marriage until she wore some sexy lingerie that Cline gave her.

Patsy Cline
Cline emboldened Lynn to stand up for herself — in the industry and at home.
Redferns

For Lynn, the impact of their relationship — which was also the subject of the 2019 Lifetime movie “Patsy & Loretta” — endured in the years and decades after Cline died. “That was a friendship that would just last and last and never die,” she said on “I Remember Patsy.”