Ashley Judd Reflects on Growing Up With ‘Aunt Retty’ in Emotional Tribute to Loretta Lynn

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Loretta Lynn’s unexpected and tragic death sent shockwaves of sadness through the country music world. Fans and artists alike took to social media to share kind words about the late Queen of Country. However, a handful of those artists were lucky enough to know Lynn on a personal level. As the daughter of Naomi Judd, Ashley Judd grew up around the Coal Miner’s Daughter. To us, she was an icon, but to Ashley, she was Aunt Retty.

Earlier today, Ashley Judd took to Instagram to share a photo of her and Wynonna alongside Loretta Lynn and some other iconic women. In the caption, Judd talked about her connection to Lynn. “Aunt Retty treated me like one of her own,” Ashley wrote. “She pulled me onto her lap and encircled her arms around my waist, the first time I met her… even though she had on a big ole fluffy ball gown.”

Ashley Judd added that she has a photo of that initial meeting and will share it as soon as she finds it. Then, she reflected on her final moments with Loretta Lynn.

Ashley Judd Visited Loretta Lynn Before She Passed

“Recently, when I visited her when she was feeling poorly, I just caressed her hand and played mountain music for her,” Ashley Judd wrote. She added that those quiet moments they spent together just enjoying the music transported them “back to our eastern Kentucky hills,” if only for a moment. Judd revealed that she and Loretta Lynn listened to Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs, and other bluegrass greats. “She got a thrill out of ‘The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn’ on Alison Krauss and Union Station’s Live Album.”

“The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn” Live

“We just giggled and drifted with the music and I knew I was having a sacred, liminal experience and that it was my last time with her,” Ashley Judd wrote.

Judd’s Praise for Lynn

After looking back on her first and last times with Loretta, Ashley Judd talked a little about Lynn’s decades-long career. “[Loretta Lynn] was brave, kind, and delightful,” Judd said. “She sang about family planning, men wanting sex while drunk and women setting that ‘I’m not putting up with that’ boundary, poverty, love, resilience, and all with a hallmark voice that was inimitable as it was recognizable.”

Ashley Judd referred to two songs specifically when talking about Loretta Lynn’s songwriting. “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” was Lynn’s first chart-topper. It was also a defiant song in which she laid down the law to her husband. Additionally, Judd referenced “The Pill” in which Lynn sings about birth control. That was one of the handful of Loretta’s songs that got banned from the radio.

“The Pill”

Ashley Judd finished her post with “This pioneer, mother, grandmother, and idol was truly a humble giant of the 20-21st centuries. Be free, Aunt Retty. Sing purdy.”