This day in 1960, Loretta Lynn made her debut on the charts with her first single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.”
The song was among the first to not only be recorded by Lynn, but also to be penned by her. She composed the song while living in the state of Washington, maintaining her role as a housewife and occasional member of a local country music band. The composition was later recorded in California after Lynn was given money by a local businessman, who was impressed by her singing. “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” was then issued as a single under the newly founded and independent Zero Records label in March 1960.
“I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” was self-promoted by Lynn and her husband, driving from one radio station to another. The effort paid off by that summer when it peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard country songs chart. The story behind the song’s promotion became one of the trademarks of Lynn’s career. Its story was profiled in the 1980 film about her life Coal Miner’s Daughter and has been covered by other artists. “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” has since received positive praise from music critics and writers alike, who have credited the song as being one of her signature tunes.
Listen to “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” here.