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Loretta Lynn Collaborator Todd Snider Celebrates the Country Icon’s Songwriting Philosophy — and Her Refrigerator Full of Lyrics

"She was so funny, I would laugh till I was coughing," remembers the singer-songwriter, who also shares what he knows about Lynn's final day.

Country music legend Loretta Lynn was known for her song and autobiography âThe Coal Minerâs Daughter,❠which became a hit movie. (David McClister/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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Loretta Lynn died Tuesday at age 90. Todd Snider is a singer-songwriter who collaborated on writing songs with Lynn, including “Don’t Tempt Me,” which he recorded, and “Everything It Takes,” which appeared on her “Full Circle” album. Lynn penned the forward for a biography of Snider that will be published in 2023, writing in part, “”Todd Snider is a flat-out musical genius. I’ve been around a pretty good while, and there are a very few singer-songwriters who I would say that about, but Todd is one of them.” He wrote down thoughts about his working friendship with Lynn for Variety:

I knew Loretta through her daughter Peggy. She is married to one of my oldest and closest friends, Mark Marchetti, and because of them Loretta knew of me.

She asked if I wanted to try to write a song. We sat at her office and wrote a song called “Don’t Tempt Me,” and I just remember that we were laughing the whole time and that I felt like I’d really made a friend.

Then she asked me out to the house to write another song. This time we went to her writing cabin and we were playing guitars and talking about what we could sing about. She said, “Go look in that refrigerator, Todd.” So I did, and when I opened it a bunch of yellow legal pads, with her words written all over them, fell out onto the floor. The refrigerator was stuffed completely full of bits of lyrics by Loretta Lynn that went back to the ‘60s. She said, “Smoke one of your doobies and go through those. See if anything jumps out at you.”

I sat there on the floor going through them. I couldn’t believe what i was seeing. I quickly found a lyric that said, “I love you more than she ever will, but the only way she can get a man is steal. I don’t know if I should tell you this or not, but she’s got everything it takes to take everything you’ve got.”

And I said, “Loretta, my God, what is this?” And she said, “Oh yeah, I remember that little bitch.” She asked me to sing it, knowing i’d only seen the lyrics, so I just sang a melody without thinking, and she said that was it.

Then she made up the rest, as if “we” were doing it. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, but not ‘cause I was talking. She said, “Always keep the poetry out.” She said they ruined lyrics. 

Swoon… I’ll never forget that. 

She wanted to know about Elvis Costello, because she was working with him and she thought he wanted to use too many chords.   

She mentioned the scruffy kid from Minnesota who got caught out with his name. She said he had some songs she admired and that he seemed to still be doing really good. I said, “Bob Dylan?” and she said yes. She said he was good at lyrics. 

When she recorded the song i wrote with her, she did it in the cabin Johnny Cash passed away in. John Carter told me that she would park her bus by the cabin and stay overnight just below his bedroom window. One night at 3 a.m. he woke to the sound of some old country music, and looked out his window to see Loretta Lynn spinning barefoot in the grass like a teenager. She was 80.

The next day he asked her what she was doing, and she said, “I was dancing with your dad.” 

He said the next night she did it again.

I have to admit I had a genuine crush on her. I loved her so much. She was so funny… I would laugh till I was coughing. She was magic.

My buddy Mark told me that earlier in the day on Tuesday, Loretta said, “I’m going to heaven tonight.”