On This Day: Loretta Lynn Records ‘Fist City’ in 1968

by Madison Miller

Loretta Lynn’s song “Fist City” is about cheating, a narrative that continues to be a popular one to explore even today.

This headstrong, independently fierce song continues to be a relatable hit for women in precarious relationships. Even now, country music is dominated with songs like “Before He Cheats,” “White Liar,” “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough.” For country artists, cheating is the ultimate disgrace and the ultimate No.1 hit.

The hit came out during the women’s liberation movement. It showed Loretta Lynn’s devotion to being a voice of equality.

Success and Controversy of ‘Fist City’

“Fist City” topped the Country music charts when it was released. It was her second of 16 No.1 hits she had during her career. However, the song got banned from the radio in the 1960s for some of its more controversial messages.

Lynn was married to Doolittle. When she was off touring in Tennessee, she caught wind of a woman trying to pursue her husband. She then showed up on the woman’s doorstep to beat her up.

“If you don’t wanna go to fist city / You better detour around my town.”

According to Song Facts, Lynn wrote the entire song on her 75-mile drive back home. Her husband didn’t hear the song until she was singing it at the Grand Ole Opry. He underestimated just how much of a hit the song would be. Lynn explained the success by saying, “I think my story sounded a little familiar.”

Loretta Lynn’s Relationship with Her Husband

Besides issues with infidelity, Lynn and Doolittle had other toxic traits in their romance.

Lynn grew up with four brothers and cites this as the reason she knows how to pick and win a fight. Their marriage was a rocky one. He allegedly threw her out of the house early on in the relationship apparently because of her bad cooking.

She released “Full Circle” in 2016, which had a remastered version of the song on it. Lynn spoke with NPR about the background of “Fist City,” specifically in how it reflected an ugly and dark relationship.

One in which she was often known to hit back just as hard. This is part of why the song remains so controversial, as both husband and wife take part in physical abuse.

“He came in, and he told me he was going to take me someplace. And he never took me nowhere. I had four babies, one right after the other. And he walked by and he took a hold of one of my pin curls and pulled it, and it hurt. He was drinking a little bit,” Lynn said.

She responded to this by taking a swing.

“No because when he hit me, I hit him twice. He got the wrong woman to fight with because I was raised with a bunch of boys. I whipped every one of my brothers,” Lynn said.

‘Fist City’ Years Later

Lynn won’t say who the woman is now because she has kids and a family. However, Lynn made it clear that the woman knew the song was about her at the time.

In an interview with Marc Myers, Lynn explained how the woman came back after her husband passed away.

Even in the face of death, some fights are hard to let go of.

“Then, in 1996, when Doo was on his deathbed and I was taking care of him, the bell rang. When I opened the front door, this woman walked right past me. I didn’t know who she was at first, but then I realized it was her. She found Doo in his bed and was talking to him. Can you imagine? Honestly, I felt like killing her. As you can probably tell, I still don’t like her to this day,” she said, according to Song Facts.