Lynn’s life has more than its share of gothic turns, and the singer swears her recent comeback began when she heard the voice of her dead husband telling her to get out of bed. Known for her floor-length gowns and poor family-planning, she may not seem like the portrait of a modern woman. But at a time when country music was still a boys’ club, Lynn converted her personal history into chart-bursting hits that ranged from classic three-chord honky-tonk (“Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ with Lovin’ on Your Mind”) to controversial anthems of social change (“The Pill”).
In one of her best-known songs, Lynn, who was born during the Great Depression and who won a Best Country Album in 2004 for the Jack White-produced Van Lear Rose, declares, “When you’re looking at me, you’re looking at country,” which, while true, doesn’t go quite far enough. You’re also looking at history. — Chris Davis