When I heard three months ago that Loretta Lynn was playing Chastain Park Amphitheater, there was no way I was gonna miss it. Those of you who live in Atlanta are familiar with Chastain. But for people out of town, Chastain Park is an absolutely beautiful city park in Buckhead. There are horse stables, and leafy, winding roads and it’s gorgeous. The amphitheater is a wonderful place to see a show since it’s relatively small, and you can nearly always bring in coolers and little tray tables. You can rent a table down in front and you can either bring dinner or have it catered. Long story slightly shortened: it’s a lovely place to spend an evening.
So my bestie Carla and I met up to spend an evening with the most famous daughter of a coal miner in the world. We heard from Carla’s hairdresser – reliable gay source – that there was a cool new bar in the basement of the Georgian Terrace Hotel. I lived in the Georgian Terrace for a week last year while a TV series filmed in my house, so it brings back great memories; memories of having the car brought around so I could take the girls to school, and memories of ordering up slices of cheesecake and milk before bed. I could get used to that life quick, fast and in a hurry.
Anyhoo, the place – Proof & Provision – looked really intriguing so we took seat to check out the menu. And then we sat. And sat. And sat some more. Finally a very irritated-looking kitchen guy brought over water and silverware. And then we sat, watching the two waitresses stand over by the bar, picking at their nails and playing with their hair. Nope. Don’t think so, girls! One of the great things about being older is knowing exactly what you don’t need to put up with. We peaced out and went upstairs to the very lovely Livingston Bar, where we enjoyed a couple rounds of Ponce Pom Fizzes and a cheese plate. Delish.
Right around the time we estimated the opening act would be going on, we headed out for the venue. Finding an amazing parking spot (it’s always good when you don’t have to totter on your heels over bumpy trails) made us feel like the night was definitely going in the right direction. In Carla’s super cute cooler, we had the makings for Dark and Stormies so we filled our Solo cups and sat back just in time for Loretta’s daughter Patsy to come out and introduce her mom. She assured us that LL was very excited to perform and that we wouldn’t be disappointed with her…or her dress! Sure enough, the First Lady of Country Music came out in one of her amazing, full skirted, full glittered gowns. Powder blue, naturally. She proceeded to play ALL the hits with her band, the Coal Miners. She kept asking the audience what they wanted to hear and she played ’em all: The Pill, Fist City, You Ain’t Woman Enough, Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’, Blue Kentucky Girl, You’re Lookin’ At Country, One’s on the Way*, and on and on. In between songs, she bantered with the crowd, inviting everyone up to her ranch in Hurricane Mills – Tennessee’s 7th largest attraction! For Carla and me, hearing those songs was nostalgic and sweet. That’s the sound of growing up. The sound of Hee Haw and Merv Griffin and the Carol Burnett Show. The sound of AM radio.
via @zooeydeschanel (Loretta chose ZD to play her in the Broadway production of Coal Miner’s Daughter.)
And something I realized for the first time Friday night is what a PR problem feminism has. What I mean by that is that someone like Loretta Lynn is unlikely to identify as a feminist. Yet this powerful woman had hit songs in the 1970s about birth control pills, the terror of realizing you had another unplanned baby on the way, the thankless nature of being a wife and mother, etc. If that’s not a feminist, honey, I don’t know what is. I don’t know where we went wrong, but it’s sad to think how few of us want to identify ourselves as feminists these days. I would hope that someone like Loretta Lynn would feel proud of all she did to advance the choices women have today. And she probably does. Who knows? Obviously, after this shitty, shitty legitimate rape-y week, this stuff has been on my mind, as I’ve contemplated how to explain to my daughters that the things the women who came before them fought so hard for are in jeopardy.
I feel so grateful that I got to see her live. I wish she’d done more of the songs from her Jack White collabo, but I’m not complaining. Seeing her was seeing a true living legend and I loved every minute of it.
In case you need a reminder of her astounding talent, here you go:
*What the what? Did you know Shel Silverstein wrote this song?