My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Loretta Lynn – ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’

Loretta’s sixth studio album was released on Decca in September 1966. It marks a significant advance in her career, as her first album to hit #1 on the country album chart. Produced by Owen Bradley, there is no doubt that this record is solid country from the first note to the last. Loretta wrote half the twelve tracks, mostly without assistance.

The title track is one of Loretta’s classic hits, a confident rebuttal to a woman making moves on Loretta’s husband, and one of my personal favorites, as she firmly declares:

Sometimes a man’s caught lookin’
At things that he don’t need
He took a second look at you
But he’s in love with me

This song strikes the perfect attitude, balancing awareness of male frailty with faith in love, and like many of Loretta’s best songs, drawn from real-life experience (although not directly autobiographical – it was inspired by a couple at one of her shows). It was the only hit from the album, but it was a significant one, reaching #2.

Equally assertive is a sassy country cover of Nancy Sinatra’s then-current pop hit ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’’, written by Lee Hazlewood. Loretta’s own ‘Keep Your Change’ is a cheerfully assertive up-tempo riposte to an ex wanting to crawl back; it is not as good as the title track but still entertaining and full of attitude as Loretta tells the guy she doesn’t want him back, and asks witheringly,

What happened to the scenery
That looked so good to you?
Did you get tired of the change you made –
Or did she get tired of you?

Not everything is assertive. The B-side of ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’ was the hidden gem ‘A Man I Hardly Know’ (covered a few years ago by Amber Digby). This song has a honky tonk angel as the protagonist, a woman seeking refuge from her heartbreak in the arms of strangers.

‘God Gave Me A Heart To Forgive’, which Loretta wrote with Bob and Barbara Cummings (her only co-write on the album), shows a more vulnerable side to Loretta as she plays the long-suffering wife of a husband who stays out all night leaving his wife lonely at home, with the attitude of the title track sadly wanting; the protagonist of this song is more of a doormat:

You brought me every misery that there is
But God gave me a heart to forgive

You hurt me as much as you can
Then you tell me that you’re just weak
Like any other man
Still you’re the only reason that I live
And God gave me a heart to forgive

Although it wasn’t written by Loretta, Bobby Harden’s ‘Tippy Toeing’ (about getting a restless baby to sleep) feels autobiographical for the mother-of-six, and has a bouncy singalong nursery rhythm perfectly suited to the subject matter.

An interesting inclusion is Loretta’s take on the then unknown Dolly Parton’s plea to a lover planning to leave, ‘Put It Off Until Tomorrow’, which is rather good, with Loretta’s voice taking on more vibrato than usual. This may be one of Dolly’s first cuts as a writer. Dolly’s own version of the song was released as a single in 1966 (and appeared on her debut album the following year), but failed to chart. Loretta’s ‘The Darkest Day’ is a less memorable look at a woman left by her man.

Another fine song with a classic feel is ‘Talking To The Wall’, about a woman who leaves the man she believes is not happy with her, and is trying not to admit she regrets it:

But I might as well be talking to the wall
When I tell myself I’m not missing you at all

It was customary for country artists to record covers of current and recent hits by other artists in the 1960s, and the songwriter Warner Mack had his own hit with the song in 1966 (#3 on Billboard). Loretta also chose to cover one of his older hits, the pained ‘Is It Wrong (For Loving You)’, which was a top 10 hit in 1957.

‘It’s Another World’ is a not very memorable perky love song, a cover of a hit for Loretta’s mentors the Wilburn Brothers (#5 in 1965), with double tracked vocals retaining the duo feel of the original. A much better Wilburn Brothers cover is their 1966 top 10 hit ‘Someone Before Me’, a classic style lovelorn ballad here given a gender switch in the lyrics so that it is about a woman loving a man still hung up on his ex, which is another one I like a lot. It was a top 10 hit for the Wilburn Brothers in 1966, but Loretta’s version is superior:

Someone before me still turns you inside out
When we’re together she’s all you talk about
You’re always wanting me to do the things she used to do
Someone before me sure left her mark on you

I’ve tried to get inside your heart but I don’t have a chance
Now I can see she’s still on your mind with every little glance
You’re living on old memories
My love can’t get through to you
Someone before me sure left her mark on you

The Osborne Brothers recorded a beautiful version the following year for their album Modern Sounds Of Bluegrass Music.

Loretta at her peak has the reputation of being more of a singles artist than an albums one, but this classic album is pretty solid throughout and one which I really enjoy. It has been re-released in its entirety on a budget CD and is also available digitally.

Grade: A-

6 responses to “Album Review: Loretta Lynn – ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’

  1. Razor X April 9, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I like this album a lot. “Talking to the Wall” is one of my favorites. I don’t like “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”, though, no matter who sings it.

  2. J.R. Journey April 10, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I’ve never listened to this entire album until today, though I had heard several of the tracks on various compilations. ‘Talking To The Wall’ is my favorite, aside from the title track. It’s also on her Honky Tonk Girl box set.

    After doing a bit of research leading up to this month’s Loretta Lynn coverage, I remember being a bit surprised that only 1 single was released from several of her 1960 and 70s albums. Was this a regular practice back then? Or was Loretta just a very prolific artist for her time?

    • Razor X April 10, 2010 at 10:44 am

      I think the usual practice in the 60s and 70s was to release about two singles per album. I’m not sure why so many of Loretta’s albums only featured one single per album. Even her 1982 album I Lie contained just one single, the title track.

      I always noticed back in the 80s that the MCA artists in my music collection tended to release about two singles per album while artists on other labels were usually releasing three (and very occasionally four) singles per album, so perhaps it’s just a label thing. Most of Reba’s 80s albums had only two singles, for example.

  3. Paul W Dennis April 13, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Actually many country albums of the sixties and seventies had only one single on them – in fact Buck Owens issued one high-charting album (ROLL OUT THE RED CARPET FOR BUCK OWENS AND THE BUCKAROOS) from which NO singles were released . I have several other albums of that vintage from which no singles were released, although the Owens album was the only one that was a major success

  4. Pingback: “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” | Loretta Lynn « 3 CHORDS A DAY

  5. Ken Johnson April 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    When it came to albums the country music industry of the late 1950’s & early 1960’s was not as “single” minded as today. They viewed the 45rpm buyer and the 33rpm buyer as two different markets. Singles were primarily released for radio stations & jukeboxes and albums were for adult record buyers. (Rock & roll 45’s were definitely for the kids) Many early albums by artists such as Hank Thompson, Ferlin Husky, Faron Young, Red Foley, Hank Snow & Eddy Arnold often contained NO single releases. Albums that did have the single hits were usually “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of” compilations.
    Many albums had a musical theme that tied all of the tracks together such as traveling songs, story songs, railroad/train songs and of course religious songs. In some cases artists would record entire albums of songs that had already been hits for OTHER performers or were standards/country classics.

    There also seemed to be a view by record labels that if a song was released on a 45rpm single why duplicate the release on a 33rpm LP? That potentially meant more sales because fans had to buy both. Often the “B” side of the 45 release also never made in onto an LP. Many “lost” B sides were unavailable until the advent of the CD box set resurrected them.

    As the 1960’s wore on, country albums began to regularly include an artist’s latest singles (usually both “A” & “B” sides) In the mid-1960’s when artists such as Loretta Lynn & Buck Owens gained great popularity, labels realized that there was also an advantage to releasing as many albums as possible to get more sales. Many of Charley Pride’s early 1970’s album had but ONE single included. Also a second song from the LP may have been scheduled for a single release, but was edged out by a newer song that had just been recorded. A period of many months or sometimes more that a year may pass between the time an album is recorded and it’s finally released. In that time the artist may have discovered or written that amazing new song that the label felt had more hit potential than the other tracks on their current LP.

    To recap what was mentioned above, artists often recorded recent hits by other performers for their LP’s up until the early 1970’s. “Tippy Toeing” was a #2 hit in May 1966 for the Harden Trio. “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” was a #6 hit in June 1966 for Bill Phillips (which included an uncredited harmony vocal by Dolly Parton who wrote the tune) The aforementioned Nancy Sinatra hit “These Boots Are Made For Walking” topped the pop survey in February 1966. “It’s Another World” gave the Wilburn Brothers a #5 hit in December 1965 and “Someone Before Me” peaked at #8 for the duo in May 1966. “Talking To The Wall” climbed to #3 in June 1966 for Warner Mack who earlier scored a #9 hit in March 1958 with “Is It Wrong (For Loving You)” Webb Pierce’s version of that song peaked at #11 in June 1960. So all told, only FIVE songs on Loretta’s album were truly brand new at that time. Today’s fans would probably be quite upset if the majority of the tracks on their favorite singer’s new CD contained remakes of hits for other acts. However, it was interesting back in the day to hear a different interpretation of a familiar hit. And Loretta was one of the best in that department.

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