Country Throwback: Loretta Lynn Sings ‘Christmas at the Opry’ in 1966 Film ‘Nashville Rebel’

by Jon D. B.

Throwback with us to 1966 as Loretta Lynn joins the Wilburn Brothers for a performance of ‘Christmas at the Opry’ in the rare film, ‘Nashville Rebel’.

In this rarely-seen Christmas film, Waylon Jennings “stars as Arlin Grove, a young rebel trying to make his way in the music business. Sound familiar?” the movie’s description asks. “Lovable gullible Arlin (Jennings) becomes a star only to be betrayed by his evil manager. With guts, determination and a few encouraging words from Tex Ritter, he makes a comeback.”

The film hit all the way back in November 1966. Fittingly, the majority of the film was shot in Nashville. In addition, it features “many live performances from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry” by many classic country stars. Among them? Loretta Lynn herself.

Within “Nashville Rebel”, Lynn sings “Christmas at the Opry” alongside the Wilburn Brothers. The song laments the passing of many famous country icons, as the singers yearn to visit with them during an afterlife Opry performance in Heaven.

Loretta Lynn & The Wilburn Brothers

Interestingly, it was the Wilburn Brothers that secured Lynn a contract with Decca Records in the 60s, just years before the release of “Nashville Rebel”.

It was Lynn’s relationship with the Wilburn Brothers that landed her appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, as well. As a result, Lynn became the “No. 1 female recording artist in country music”.

Moreover, the Wilburns held all publishing rights to Lynn’s materials. This would lead to a grueling – and tragic – battle for Loretta Lynn that lasted 30 years. For three decades she fought the brothers to regain rights to her own songs. In fact, Lynn withdrew from writing songs entirely in the 1970s as a result of this crippling debacle.

Below, Loretta Lynn sings this charming rendition of this lesser-heard Christmas country song alongside the Wilburns. Whether she was on good standing with the brothers at the time, however, is unknown.

In addition, Lynn also sings “You Ain’t Woman Enough” within the film.

Other classic country stars to sing in ‘Nashville Rebel’ include Cousin Jody: Mockingbird / Waylon Jennings: Nashville Rebel / Faron Young: Sweet Dreams / Tex Ritter: Hillbilly Heaven / Porter Wagoner: Howdy Neighbour Howdy, and more.

Lynn continues to play and love music to this day. A soul as bright as hers is unlikely to ever let what the Wilburn Brothers did to her diminish her legacy.

For more on the life and music of Loretta Lynn, has you covered.

[H/T YouTube]