My name is not Loretta…but I was a Loretta – Townes’ famous barroom girl, who wears those sevens on her sleeve. When I was a Loretta I never pined for no man to marry me, to quit his rambling ways and play domestic honeybunnies in some godforsaken interstate town here or there. I had my coterie of Townes’ back in the day, tripping free through life, enjoying the fact they came and went again, and didn’t hang around so long as to irritate me.
Loretta’s don’t want your pity, Loretta’s don’t hang on the telephone waiting for your call, Loretta’s want you to strap on your guitar, have another little shot of booze, and to see you again one day down the road, in six months or so, just when they start to miss you.
Loretta’s have their girlfriends, and their own bottles, their drugs and their own parties and daydreams and guitars and nightmares. Loretta’s “dance like a diamond shines’ and never ever get older than 22, no matter what happens. Loretta’s have their Blaze Foley’s and their Townes Van Zandts – strange men who have their own wars and never ask for things she can’t give them.
Loretta’s “long and lazy, blonde and free.” You might think you can have her any time, but Loretta has herself, she is not some wet weeping longing filled sad sack who waits on the possibility that she can cut the damn wedding cake with any hobo musician who will take her dancing slippers away. You had better beg Loretta to keep you on her mind a while, cause Loretta is fickle, Loretta sings freedom, Loretta dances with one hand in the air, and the other holding a fifth of rum. Loretta eyes laugh, not cry, at least not while you are watching. To deny Loretta this dignity is to deny her humanity.
So when I heard Lydia Ainsworth’s new song, Cake, which she is writing from the point of view of Townes Van Zandt’s Loretta, I was bereft, I was angry, I was just plain old perplexed: to lift a line directly from Talking Thunderbird Blues in a song about Loretta without making it clear is churlish to say the least, if not plain old plagiarism. The joke doesn’t even damn well work, because she is missing the set up to the punchline.
Got a few more bottles, chugged them down
I pulled myself up off the ground
Decided I go see my dearest sweet wife
Who met me at the door with a carving knife
Said “Get them damn grape peel from between your teeth.”I could see we’re gonna have a little misunderstanding
I said “Dear, I better get in touch with you later”
She said “Forget it, man, you’re never touchin’ me again!” (Talking Thunderbird Blues, Townes Van Zandt)
Mmmm I got no time left for your gambling Mmmm you broke my phone pieces with your incessant rambling You say – ‘I’ll be back in touch with you around the bend’ – Boy, best believe you won’t be touching me ever again Ooooooooooooh You cut me cut me cut me cut me good Ooooooooooooh (Lydia Ainsworth, Cake)
Loretta’s don’t eat cake, let alone wedding cake, Loretta’s subsist on cigarettes and booze, for a start. The tune is mindless mumbled Adele wannabe wholesome new country crapola, with the most mindnumblingly weak, co- dependent lyrics I have heard since…well…last time I listened to Lydia Ainsworth. It is awful. Quite why the video needed to be shot in Tokyo, I dunno. Loretta is from some midwest casino bar, hardfaced, bottle bleach blonde in her 40s, Loretta is imdominable. Loretta deserved so very much more. There is nothing redeeming about this track at all. The best I can tell you is if you haven’t heard it, go listen to Townes’s Loretta…that man could really write a song.