What Patsy Cline Taught Loretta Lynn About Friendship

Next week sees the release of a Lifetime movie based on the friendship between two country music legends, Pasty Cline and Loretta Lynn. Before it hits our screens I thought I’d take a look back to Loretta’s biography ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ and find out more about the connection between these two legendary artists.

Loretta dedicates a chapter of her autobiography to her friendship with Patsy, and explains how Patsy managed to not only support her fledging career but also helped Loretta to be accepted by other women working in Nashville. She goes so far as to admit:

If it wasn’t for Patsy Cline, I don’t think I would have lasted

The kindness and support offered by Patsy would set a model for Loretta that she too would pass down to other women during her career.

When Loretta first came to Nashville Patsy Cline was the best girl singer in town and already on her way to legendary status. Patsy heard Loretta’s song on the radio and even though she was in hospital recovering from a car wreck, she invited Loretta along to meet her. When we talk about how women support women in the industry we need to remember moments like this – instead of worrying about a new artist in town who could have potentially been a rival, Patsy instantly offered Loretta advice, support and unconditional friendship.

Loretta explains that such friendship was not the norm at the time. In fact many other female singers at the time were worried about Loretta’s success and called a meeting to discuss what to do about her. Fortunately Patsy was invited and she made sure to take Loretta along with her. Loretta describes the incident:

When we got to the house, there were all these Cadillacs belonging to the top women singers in the country. We went in there and they didn’t say a word. That ended their plan. Patsy put the stamp of approval on me, and I never had any problems with them again. In fact they are my friends now.

Through her support of Loretta, Patsy encouraged others to do the same. Later in her career Loretta was dragged into the debate about whether Olivia Newton John should have won a CMA, considering she was a pop artist. Loretta recalls how Patsy stood up for her and so she did the same thing for Olivia, writing:

Olivia Newton-John when you come to Nashville, you give me a call, and I’ll help you any way I can. There’s room for all of us, honey.

And decades later you can see how Loretta’s words still resonate. Artists were lining up to pay tribute to her at her recent birthday celebrations, covering her songs just like Loretta covered Patsy’s in her honour. Many women in the genre are working together to show support for each other, like Pistol Annies and the Highwomen, even when fans or the media are trying to encourage rivalry. Just this week Miranda Lambert wrote an impassioned endorsement of her friend Carrie Underwood, explaining why she should win Entertainer of the Year at the CMAs saying, ‘I’ll always have her back’. It was heartening to read and you hope Patsy is up there somewhere smiling at how her legacy of friendship continues.

Patsy’s last words to Loretta were ‘Little gal, no matter what people say or do, no matter what happens, you and me are going to stick together.’ Pasty understood that there’s more to be gained by uniting rather than competing. Even after her tragic death, Loretta never forgot those words. Patsy was with her, always. She even named one of her daughters after her.

I haven’t seen the movie yet but I hope they present this relationship in the positive way that Loretta wrote about it. Patsy’s friendship was immediate, unconditional and sincere. We could all learn from her example. Another woman’s success does not negate our own. There’s room for all of us, honey.

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