Loretta Lynn died this week. She was 90 years old, so she had a long run, if not necessarily a good run. Like many of the country stars of her era, her personal life was often complicated. Most were people who lived hard lives and their music was often about the consequences of living a hard life. Of course, their audience was mostly people who also had complicated lives.
It is trite to say upon the passing of an icon that they are not making them like that anymore, but in the case of these old country stars it is true. They really are products of a bygone era. Pop music stars of all genres are now manufactured products, created by a system that selects for stability and predictability. The days of the gonzo rock star or wild living country star are long gone.
In the case of Loretta Lynn, she is also the last of the alternative feminists that flourished in the country scene into the 1970’s. We think of feminism as the increasingly deranged nonsense that comes from the harpies on the college campus, but for a long time there was an alternative to the left-wing feminism. This alternative conception of the strong women turned up in classic country songs.
Probably the closest thing today to that old right-wing image of the strong female is the trad-wife business, but that is more of an internet meme. It is also more about what it opposes than what it proposes. Like so much of what passes for right-wing now, it is mostly a reaction to the excesses of the culture wreckers. Perhaps in time it will mature into a genuine alternative to the lunacy of feminism.
Of course, when one of these old legends dies, and there are not many of them left at this point, it is a reminder that they came from a world that has been entirely replaced by something different. The world that produced someone like Loretta Lynn is gone and the audience she appealed to is also gone. There was a clean break somewhere in the last few generations and that old world is fading away.
It is most obvious in the case of someone like Loretta Lynn. She grew up in what we call grinding poverty. Fifty years ago, everyone knew someone who came from such conditions because we still had lots of genuine poor people. A young person today will expect to live their whole life never having met a poor person. That is poor as in no food poor, not as in not the newest gaming console poor.
It is not an accident that the collapse of authenticity and realism in the popular culture tracks with the elimination of want. Those old country stars like Lynn could sing about the troubles of the human condition because they lived them and more important, their audience was living them. In a world where the hardest choices are on the menu, people are not interested in the human condition.
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This Week’s Show
- Clown Horn (Link)
- Sad Trombone (Link)
- Boob Update (Link)
- More Sad Trombone (Link)
- Clowner Men (Link) (Link)
- David French (Link)
Full Show On Spreaker
Full Show On Odysee