Category: Certain Songs

Certain Songs #970: Loretta Lynn (feat. Jack White) – “Portland, Oregon”

Album: Van Lear Rose
Year: 2004

I’ll admit it: in 2004, when Van Lear Rose came out, I only had a vague knowledge of Loretta Lynn’s music. I mean, obviously, I knew that she’d been a Country superstar in the 1970s, and that Sissy Spacek had won the Oscar for Best Actress playing her in Coal Miner’s Daughter.

On the other hand, I completely knew who Jack White was, as The White Stripes were probably at the peak of both their popularity and their powers, and I was interested in Van Lear Rose because it was his first(?) extracirrcular project outside of the peculiar constraints he’d previously set on the music made.


Certain Songs #969: Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty – “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man”

Album: Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man
Year: 1973

Like Rod Stewart or Neil Young, Loretta Lynn was such a juggernaut in the early 1970s that she had two separate careers happening at once: releasing solo records and collaborations with a frightening frequency.

I can’t pretend to heard — well — any of these, but she released 17 solo albums and another 9 collaborations with Conway Twitty in the 1970s, and while they probably weren’t all great, or even good, judging from a song like “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” there were probably gems throughout.


Certain Songs #968: Loretta Lynn – “Fist City”

Album: Fist City
Year: 1968

Loretta Lynn wrote enough great songs worrying about other women stealing her man that you could occasionally wonder why she didn’t choose better men in the first place. But maybe we should be glad, because otherwise we wouldn’t have ever gotten a song as awesomely clever as “Fist City.”

Yes, I know that violence is awful and stuff, and apparently the violence threatened in “Fist City” got it banned from Country radio, no doubt because said violence was threatened by a woman, that didn’t matter to the vast majority of the late 1960s country music audience, because “Fist City” was a Country #1 in 1968.


Certain Songs #967: The Long Winters – “Ultimatum”

Album: Putting The Days To Bed
Year: 2006

John Roderick thought so much of “Ultimatum” that he recorded two entirely separate versions of it. The first one was the title track of the 2005 EP that also contained “The Commander Thinks Aloud,” and it was lovely, wistful and acoustic.

The other version is loud, raggedly and very much electric, and it’s the highlight of the album that turned me onto The Long Winters in the first place, 2006’s Putting The Days To Bed.


Certain Songs #966: The Long Winters – “The Commander Thinks Aloud”

Album: Ultimatum EP
Year: 2005

On the short list of the Prettiest Songs Ever Recorded, SPACE! Division, “The Commander Thinks Aloud” is a spiritual & musical sequel to songs like “Space Oddity” and “Rocket Man” but has the extra added frisson-inducing fact of being based upon a real life event: the disintegration of the Space Shuttle Columbia upon reentry in 2003.

It’s one of those songs to which you can listen endlessly and find something new and amazing each and every time.