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A legend reborn

When Loretta Lynn and Jack White went on the stage to accept Lynn’s Grammy for their collaborative effort on Van Lear Rose, White positioned himself away from the spotlight, not wanting to detract from the woman hailing from Butcher Holler. Lynn would have none of it. In her no-nonsense style, she told White, “Get on up here and thank the people. What are you hiding in the back for?” — That’s classic Lynn for you.

Like her recently deceased contemporary Johnny Cash, Lynn took a chance on something new. Rick Rubin, who is best known for producing rap and metal artists, produced Cash’s last album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. But unlike Rubin, White not only produced Van Lear Rose, but he also plays guitar on the CD. In fact, the White Stripes plays on it.

Far from what some may conjecture, the collaboration of these two polarities does not read like a recipe for disaster. The music they have produced dazzles the ears, and any listener of Van Lear Rose is in for a treat. For the first time in her career, Lynn wrote every song on a recording. And if it took her 68 years to write such great songs, then it was worth the wait.

By Lynn’s own admission, Van Lear Rose is the album that she is most proud of. The songs on the CD range from the good ol’ honky tonk tunes to theological fatalism. As for White’s production, he succeeds at infusing the music with haunting ambiance that enhances each song, but White’s hand is also skillfully restrained at the same time. The duo’s effort, which is deeply poignant, is more than the sum of their parts.

Lynn plays many tracks from Van Lear Rose in her recent concerts. When Lynn played last year at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, there was a clear distinction between the Van Lear Rose catalogue, her latest songs, and older ones. Van Lear Rose‘s songs sound heavier and more raw than her previous works.

Lynn, who never claimed to be anything other than a blessed girl from West Virginia, has turned this sentiment and talent into a hell of a career. An undisputable legend and the first woman to win the prestigious CMA Entertainer of the Year award in 1972, Lynn has consistently been churning out hits for decades, sometimes to the blind eye of the commercial music world.

The Coal Miner’s Daughter will perform this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the new Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven. Admission to the park is $29.95 and includes general seating for the concert. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Tickets can be purchased at the park or by calling (863) 324-2111.