About the song[edit source | editbeta]Edit

"Coal Miner's Daughter" tells the story of her life growing up "in a cabin on a hill in Butcher Holler", while her father, Melvin "Ted" Webb, worked all night in the Van Lear coal mine. The song depicts the real story of Lynn's life growing up in rural Kentucky, and discusses how she and her seven siblings lived off of a coal miner's salary ("Daddy loved and raised eight kids on a miner's pay"), and that her father always made sure there was love in the Webb household.

Subsequent verses recall Lynn's other childhood experiences and hardships, such as her mother reading the Bible by a coal-oil light or having bloody fingers from constantly doing the laundry using an abrasive "warsh"board (this pronunciation was reflective of her Appalachian Kentucky roots),[1] ordering shoes from a mail-order catalog, and working so hard every day that everyone slept because "they were tired."

In the song's final verse, the now-adult Lynn returns to her homestead, which has since been abandoned ("Not much left but the floor; nothing lives here anymore ..."). However, she remarks that the "memories of a coal miner's daughter" remain.

"Coal Miner's Daughter" was unlike anything Lynn had ever recorded previously. She had become known for her sassy back-talking songs, including "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)" (an angry-wife's warning to a hard-drinking husband not to come home drunk and intent on making love) and "Fist City" (wherein a married woman threatens her husband's would-be temptress). However, fans quickly reacted to the song with praise and turned the song into one of country music's iconic hits.

Chart performance[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Lynn recorded "Coal Miner's Daughter" in October 1969, but the song's release was delayed until mid-1970. The song slowly climbed the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart during the latter half of the year, and reached No. 1 on December 19 for a single week.[2]

In addition to reaching No. 1 on the Country charts, "Coal Miner's Daughter" also became Lynn's first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 83.

An album of the same name was also released in 1970, and despite the fact that the title track was the lone single, Coal Miner's Daughter became quite successful.

Chart (1970) Peak


U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 83
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1

Legacy[edit source | editbeta]Edit

"Coal Miner's Daughter" served as the name of Lynn's 1976 autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter: The Autobiography, which Lynn co-wrote. The song title also served as the name of Lynn's 1980 biographical motion picture on her life,Coal Miner's Daughter. The movie starred actress Sissy Spacek as Lynn and Tommy Lee Jones as Lynn's husband. The film's soundtrack featured Spacek singing all of Lynn's hits sung in the movie, including "Coal Miner's Daughter". Spacek won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Lynn in the film.

"Coal Miner's Daughter" helped provide a better understanding of Lynn, and led to the widespread fascination with her life story.

The song was listed at No. 185 on RIAA's list of Songs of the Century and was also listed in 2003's TV special at No. 13 on CMT's 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.

In 2010 the Library of Congress put "Coal Miner's Daughter" on the National Recording Registry.

Cover versions[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Few singers have released cover versions of Lynn's hit, as it is a biographical song about Lynn's life. However, there have been several karaoke sing-along versions made in the past ten years.

The most famous cover of the song is the version recorded by Sissy Spacek for the motion picture, which is also featured on the soundtrack. The soundtrack peaked at #2 on the Billboard country album chart and at #40 on the Top 200 chart. In Canada the soundtrack peaked at #1 on the country album chart and #23 on the pop album chart. The single off the soundtrack peaked at #23 on the Billboard country singles chart and at #7 on the Canada county singles chart.

Loretta Lynn re-recorded the song with guest vocals from Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow in 2010 for Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute To Loretta Lynn. Additionally, this recording was released as a single in September 2010. This version of the song debuted and peaked at #55 on the Hot Country Songs chart for the week dated December 4, 2010. They also recorded a music video of the song and it became a CMT top ten hit. Additionally they were nominated for a Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music and a CMT Video award for the effort.