5 Songs You Didn’t Know Loretta Lynn Wrote for Other Artists

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Loretta Lynn left her mark as the first woman in country to write her own songs. Over the decades, she often collaborated with longtime duet partners and friends, the late Conway Twitty and Willie Nelson, along with Ernest Tubb (“Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be,” 1964), Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette (“Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” 1993) Frank Sinatra (“All Or Nothing At All,” 1977) and later unions with Elvis Costello (see below) and Jack White (“Portland, Oregon,” 2004)—off Lynn’s 2004 album Van Lear Rose, which White also produced.

In between releasing 46 albums of her own material, Lynn also wrote songs for other artists—recording several for herself later on—including tracks for sisters Peggy Sue and Crystal Gayle to The Osborne Brothers, and Warner Mack among others.

Here are five songs that Loretta Lynn wrote for other artists.

1. “I Pray My Way out of Trouble,” The Osborne Brothers (1968)
Written by Loretta Lynn and Teddy Wilburn

Loretta Lynn and Teddy Wilburn, of the 1960s country sibling duo The Wilburn Brothers, wrote this story of the power of prayer for The Osborne Brothers. Released on the group’s 1969 album Favorite Hymns, Lynn later recorded the song herself on her 20th album, God Bless America Again, in 1972.

The smallest prayer from the world’s bigger sinner
Brings a smile to His saddened face
So I just go to Him any time I’m in trouble
Wash my heart in the waters of my Savior’s grace

I pray my way out of trouble
And I ask my dear Lord to help me each day
I pray my way out of trouble
And the dear nail scared hand wipes my teardrops awa
y

2. “I’m Dynamite,” Peggy Sue (1969)
Written by Loretta Lynn

The middle sister of Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle, Peggy Sue recorded the Lynn-penned “I”m Dynamite” for her 1969 debut, Dynamite, which hit the Top 30 on the country chart. A year later, Lynn put her own spin on the song for her 15th album Wings Upon Your Horns.

You turn me on, but I can’t turn me off
I guess the switch is buried in my mind
The flame of love is burning, just begging to be used
I’m dynamite, so please don’t light the fuse

Peggy Sue and Lynn collaborated regularly in the early days, when both were signed to Decca with Lynn also writing several other songs for her younger sister, including their co-write “Love Whatcha Got at Home,” first recorded by Peggy Sue then by Lynn on her 18th album, You’re Lookin’ at Country, in 1971. Lynn also penned “No Woman Can Hold Him Too Long” and “Mrs. Leroy Brown” for Peggy, the latter track released on Lynn’s 2004 album Van Lear Rose.

By 1986, Peggy Sue switched to singing as a backup singer and designing stage wear for her younger sister Crystal Gayle—who she continues to perform with to date. All three sisters would often perform with Lynn at her Hurricane Mills, Tennessee ranch, and Peggy Sue also helped Lynn write some of her earlier songs, including Lynn’s first No. 1 country hit “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” released in 1967.

3. “Let’s Get Back Down to Earth,” Warner Mack (1969)
Written by Loretta Lynn

Another track Lynn would record herself on her 15th album, Wings Upon Your Horns, “Let’s Get Back Down to Earth” was written by Loretta Lynn but first recorded and released by Warner Mack in 1969. The country singer released a number of hits throughout his career, including “Is It Wrong (For Loving You)” in 1957 and “The Bridge Washed Out” in 1965, along with his final album, Better Than Ever at the age of 85. Mack died on March 1, 2022, in Nashville, at the age of 86.

When we all come to this old world, we didn’t bring a thing
When we all leave this old world, we’re gonna take the same
You’ll be no better than I am when the man says “dirt to dirt”
So come on down and get your feet on the ground
Let’s get back down to earth

Let’s get back down to Earth and live with the common people
Then we won’t be miserable when we get old and feeble
Let’s all be honest with ourselves, we all know what we’re worth
So come on down and get your feet on the ground
Let’s get back down to earth

4. “I’ve Cried (The Blue Right Out of My Eyes),” Crystal Gayle (1970)
Written by Loretta Lynn

When younger sister Crystal Gayle eventually signed on to Decca Records, joining Lynn and Peggy Sue, Lynn wrote several songs for her, including her first single “I’ve Cried (The Blue Right Out of My Eyes),” which peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Lynn went on to write a number of other songs recorded by Gayle, including “Sparklin’ Look of Love,” which was released as the B-side to “I’ve Cried (The Blue Right Out of My Eyes),” and “Mama It’s Different This Time.”

The two sisters would often perform together, and when Gayle was just 16, she even filled in for Lynn at the Grand Ole Opry. “Loretta was sick,” said Gayle in a 2016 interview. “I know Mooney [Oliver Lynn], her husband, talked somebody into letting me go on stage that night.”

Gayle added, ”She got me my first recording contract, and she told me the best advice: ‘Don’t sing anything that I would because we’re only going to be compared,’” said Gayle. “She was right.”

Oh I’ve hurt enough
For the both of us
Since we said our
Goodbyes

And I’ve cried
And cried
Until I’ve cried
The blue right
Out of my eyes

5. “I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came,” Elvis Costello (2009)
Written by Loretta Lynn and Elvis Costello

For his 2009 album Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, recorded in Nashville by T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello connected with Lynn to co-write the roots and bluegrass—leaning “I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came.” Filled with more bluegrass, Americana, and country-driven tracks, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 for Costello. 

In 2016, the pair teamed up again for a duet on “Everything It Takes,” written by Lynn and Todd Snider and released on her 43rd album Full Circle. Lynn called the song a “woman song—something more for a woman.” She added, “I wrote ‘Everything It Takes’ real fast. I probably wrote it in 30 minutes. Sometimes I can write a song real fast, and sometimes it’ll take me two, or three days. And I get so aggravated that I’ll probably lay it down and go back to it later. But that song came easy. I’ll come up with the title first and, when I come up with the title, I always know I got a good title.”

Of her first meeting with Costello six years earlier, while writing “I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came,” Lynn said:

“We sat down in the studio to write a song. I had a piece of paper and a pencil, and he had a computer. So we looked at one another like, ‘What’s going to come out of this?’ He was laughing about it, but I didn’t think it was funny because that’s the way I write all my songs. When I write a song, I don’t want to be on a computer.”

Well, there’s a difference in the way that you kissed me
And there’s a sadness in your eyes that you can’t hide
Why do you tremble when I hold you?
I wonder if you feel the same
I felt the chill, before the winter came

But it’s easy to say that I won’t give in again
I was just tempted for a moment and then some
But it’s so easy when you love, to lose to control
Now look here if you will
At the faithful man you stole

Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Patsy Cline Crazy

The Best 18 Patsy Cline Quotes

The Cure Open Tour with Two New Songs, Return of Former Band Member Perry Bamonte