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Christmas with Loretta Lynn

Andrea Warner

Before 2016, Loretta Lynn’s last record was the critically acclaimed 2004 Jack White-collaboration, Van Lear Rose.

Now, the 84-year-old country music legend has released two albums this year: March’s Full Circle, and her new holiday album, White Christmas Blue. You can listen to the album right now via CBC Music.

It’s a followup, of sorts, 50 years in the making. Her first seasonal record, Country Christmas, came out in 1966, and featured a mix of originals and classic favourites. White Christmas Blue features one new song, the title track, co-written by Lynn and Shawn Camp (Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn), and new recordings of two originals — “To Heck With Ole Santa Claus” and “Country Christmas” — from the 1966 album.

Lynn spoke with CBC Music about her favourite holiday memories, making a new record and the real truth about what motivated her to write one of her classic Christmas songs.

“To Heck With Ole Santa Claus” makes me laugh so hard.

[Laughs] And people will holler for it. I wrote that song because I got mad at Doo [her late husband], you know. He had him a little fling on the side there. [Laughs] For Christmas he got that gal a silk pant, silk shirt and I don’t know what all, and he got me a Bible on sale at Walmart. I found that out.

Oh my gosh. Well that won’t do.

No, it didn’t do. [Laughs] Doo got in trouble for doing that.

Tell me about "White Christmas Blue." It has the sound of an instant classic.

Well, we just threw that together, you know. Little Shawn Camp, we wrote together for two years. Little Shawn Camp would help me, so I called Shawn over and I said, “Shawn, honey, we wrote a Christmas song.” He said, “What is it?” and I told him, and we got it done.

The fiddle and the piano are so great.

Yeah, I would have never done that song without him on there. He’s been wanting to write with me for so long and he wants to write all the time and he does do a lot to help me when I’m doing other things. He’s great.

Is it hard or easy to find people that you really trust to work with?

It’s hard. When you are on a line in a song and you can’t say it, but that other person can say it? That was Shawn. It makes it a lot better that way. But a lot of people can’t write together, and I can’t write with a lot of people. I don’t know why. I have to lock myself in a room.

Are you a big Christmas fan?

I do love Christmas. Christmas is what I miss most when I was a little kid. It was so simple. And Christmas is not simple anymore, it’s gotten to be such a thing, it’s not good anymore like it should be. I’d like to go back to Kentucky and to that old Kentucky house and pop the popcorn on the grate over the fireplace. If you got two kernels that didn’t burn up, you were lucky! Mommy’d put the skillet over the fireplace and shake it and the lid would fly off and the popcorn would be in the barn and us kids would start running and try to find the popcorn because it would be popping everywhere. [Laughs] Christmas at our house, it wasn’t too easy. Things happened at my house at Christmas time. Mommy said that she went and got some of that strapping stick candy. She had it hid for a month, and she didn’t think I knew where it was at. Why, I knew where it was at. I was taking a bite a day! I was taking a bit off of that candy every day. [Laughs] But it was fun, we had a good time.

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory aside from the popcorn, which is a great one, by the way?

Mommy made it — she called it horehound candy. Where would you come up with candy called horehound? Have you ever in your life heard of such a thing? Well, I went into a store and asked for it somewhere and they found it! We ate sorghums all the time in Butcher Holler, but when it comes to candy time she made the candy out of sorghums and she called it horehound candy.

Hang out with me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner

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