Connie Smith Looks Back on Longtime Friendship With Loretta Lynn

by Alex Falls
Terry Wyatt / Stringer / Getty

Tributes continue to pour in for Loretta Lynn days after the country music icon passed away at the age of 90. Now her longtime friend and fellow influential female voice Connie Smith has commented on Lynn’s life and memory.

“I’m pretty good other than losing my friend,” Smith said almost 24 hours after learning of Lynn’s passing. “I miss her a lot. It’s a big loss, but she’s going to be with me for the rest of my life.”

Smith met Lynn in 1964 during her first trip to Nashville when Smith was just first breaking into the business. They were both at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. Lynn sent her husband to bring Smith backstage after she performed. Smith and Lynn remained best friends for 58 years until Lynn’s passing this week.

Six months after their first meeting, Lynn was making her debut at the Grand Ole Opry. Smith came to see her perform, but Lynn had something bigger in mind for her new friend.

“(Loretta) was on at the Opry one night, so I just showed up backstage to watch. I used to follow her around like a puppy in those days,” Smith said. But Smith had just scored her first number-one hit song with “Once a Day,” so Lynn saw the chance to make music history.

“What?” Lynn exclaimed. “You’ve got the No. 1 record in the country and you’re not on the Grand Ole Opry? Well, you’re going to sing with me.” Smith joined Lynn onstage to sing the harmony parts of Loretta’s “Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

“That shows the type of person (Lynn) was,” Smith said.

Connie Smith on Loretta Lynn’s Legacy

Smith said her favorite song from Lynn’s long career is the 1972 single “Here I Am Again.” She said her friend had an ability to “do a great job performing great songs, so prettily” and set an unparalleled standard in music history.

“Outside of trying to put my own take on ‘World of Forgotten People,’ and a few others, I didn’t try too much to sing any of Loretta’s songs,” Smith said. Adding that Lynn’s songs as performed by the legendary singer cannot be topped. “Why even try?” she says jokingly.

The biggest lesson Smith took from her friend was how to balance musical acclaim and motherhood. She admired Lynn’s ability to maintain a “rough” schedule even while considering herself a mother first.

“Above everything else – and at times, she was the hottest singer in the world – Loretta was a mama first,” Smith says. “Parenthood didn’t faze her. She could be in the middle of doing anything, but she’d always take the time to be sure to correct her children’s behavior herself in front of everyone. It didn’t matter.”

“Loretta always cared,” Smith continued. “She opened doors to success for all of us and was a queen of country music. I think it was the Charlie Louvin song that she sang with Conway Twitty, and later with (Smith’s husband Marty Stuart), ‘Will You Visit Me on Sundays,’ that says one of the best ways to remember her: ‘Promise me that time won’t separate me from your memory.'”