Jack White Pens Emotional Tribute to Loretta Lynn: ‘She Was Like a Mother Figure to Me’

by Alex Falls
Rick Diamond / Staff / Getty

The death of Loretta Lynn at the age of 90 has left a major crater in the world of country music. Lynn was a pioneer who influenced generations of musicians with her boundary-pushing songwriting.

Her influence extended beyond country music as well. Notable artists from all genres, including indie rocker Neko Case and pop-punk pioneers Paramore, have taken on Lynn’s material while paying tribute to the fallen icon. Lynn was so ubiquitous that she couldn’t be restricted by just country music. She put her female-forward attitude into all forms of music.

One of her biggest proteges in the modern music world is rock star Jack White. The unlikely duo came together in 2004 for one of Lynn’s most acclaimed albums of her entire career, Van Lear Rose. White produced the album for her and they even collaborated on the song “Portland, Oregon.”

Jack White’s Statement on the Passing of Loretta Lynn

“What a sad day today is. We lost one of the greats, Loretta Lynn,” White said in his statement. “I said when I was first asked about her what I thought and I said years ago that I thought she was the greatest female singer-songwriter of the 20th century. I still believe that. Loretta used to say to make it in the business, you had to either be great, different, or first, and she thought that she was just different and that’s how she made it, but I think she was all three of those things and there’s plenty of evidence to back that up too.”

“She was such an incredible presence and such a brilliant genius in ways that I think only people who got to work with her might know about. What she did for feminism, women’s rights in a time period, in a genre of music that was the hardest to do it in, is just outstanding and will live on for a long time. She broke down a lot of barriers for people that came after her.”

A Heartfelt Tribute

See Jack White’s full tribute to the iconic Loretta Lynn below.

White concluded his tribute by saying, “I learned so much from her working together on this album Van Lear Rose. And there was times where I just had to take a pause and step outside because she was just so brilliant. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing and hearing. I almost felt like she didn’t even realize it, you know. But she was just a genius and just brilliant at what she did and we were lucky to have her and people can learn from example the rags to riches part of it and the beautiful natural voice part of it. She was like a mother figure to me and also a very good friend at times. She told me some amazing things that I’ll never tell anybody. Rest in peace Loretta. God bless you.”