The Story Behind the Final Song Loretta Lynn Wrote for Her Husband

The Story Behind the Final Song Loretta Lynn Wrote for Her Husband
Photo: Loretta Lynn /Facebook

At the tender age of 15, Loretta Lynn, a coal miner’s daughter, found herself swept off her feet by Oliver Vanetta Lynn, a 21-year-old known affectionately as “Doolittle,” “Doo,” or “Mooney,” during a quaint pie social in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Their young love blossomed swiftly, culminating in marriage in 1948, with the news of their first child, Betty Sue (1948-2013), arriving before the year’s end.

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Their journey together, spanning nearly five decades, was marked by tumult and trials, fueled by Oliver’s struggles with alcoholism and infidelity. Yet, amidst the storms, Loretta found solace and inspiration in music, pouring her heart into songs like “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” and “Fist City,” which candidly depicted their rocky relationship. However, amidst the strife, there were also tender melodies celebrating their enduring love, such as “Love Is The Foundation” and “I’m All He’s Got (But He’s Got All Of Me).”

Reflecting on their rollercoaster romance in 2010, Loretta shared, “[We had] lots of ups and downs. He never hit me one time that I didn’t hit him back twice.”

Despite the challenges, Loretta attributed much of her success to “Doo,” who not only supported her musical endeavors but also served as her steadfast companion and confidant. “I married Doo when I wasn’t but a child and he was my life from that day on,” she revealed in her heartfelt memoir “Still Woman Enough” in 2002. “But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door.”

>>READ ALSO: Loretta Lynn’s Daughter Pays Heartbreaking Tribute to Her Memory

“Doo was my security, my safety net,” Loretta continued, her voice tinged with nostalgia. “And just remember, I’m explainin’, not excusin’… Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through.”

In 1985, Loretta penned her final tribute to Doo, a poignant song titled “Wouldn’t It Be Great?” Recorded in Nashville and featured on her 1985 album “Just a Woman,” the song yearns for one last moment of clarity and love from her husband: “Say you love me just one time, with a sober mind.”

“My husband liked to drink a lot, and that’s where that song comes from,” Loretta reminisced with a bittersweet smile. “‘Say you love me just one time, with a sober mind.’ I always liked that song, but I never liked to sing it around Doo.”

Wouldn’t it be fine if you could say you love me
Just one time with a sober mind?
Wouldn’t that be fine, now wouldn’t that be fine?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could love me first
And let the bottle wait?
Now wouldn’t that be great, now wouldn’t that be great?

Wouldn’t it be great, hey, hey, wouldn’t that be great?
Throw the old glass crutch away and watch it break
Wouldn’t it be great, hey, hey, wouldn’t that be great?
Lord, it’s for our sake, now wouldn’t that be great?

In the name of love, what’s a man so great
Be thinking of? In the name of love
What a man he was

In 1993, Lynn, along with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, re-recorded “Wouldn’t It Be Great” for their collaborative album “Honky Tonk Angels.” Fast forward to 2018, Lynn released her final rendition of the song on her penultimate album of the same name.

Produced by her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash, this version holds a special place for Lynn Russell, who expressed, “That song just always meant so much to me because of the lyrics ‘When my fancy lace couldn’t turn your face.’ It was just so powerful and was a song that needed to be recorded for this album with Loretta. It shows just how masterful my mom is with writing down her feelings.”

>>READ ALSO: Loretta Lynn’s Children: Meet The Coal Miner’s Daughter’s 6 Kids

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