Your new album, Full Circle, includes songs from your childhood that you never recorded. Why revisit them now?
I was always busy writing new songs and recording them, but I never got back to the songs I did when I was a little girl that Mommy had taught me. I got to thinking when I started recording, Hey, I’m doing this on my own, I’ll cut what I want to. I got 93 songs cut. A lot of them are the old stuff. Some of them are new.
The record label don’t care how many songs I sing, ’cause they’ll pick from them what they want me to come out with. They’ve already got the next album picked.
You duet with Willie Nelson on “Lay Me Down.” Has he ever tried to get you to smoke?
Willie’s never tried to get me to smoke marijuana. I think people know whether you want to smoke or not.
Some radio stations banned your 1968 song “Fist City,” about women who pursued your husband while you were away. Were you surprised by the reaction?
Oh, I couldn’t figure out why they thought it was bad! I just wrote about the everyday thing that was happening.
In live performances of that song, you’re smiling, even when you’re singing about hitting a woman. Did people underestimate you because of your demeanor?
Other women underestimated me. If you can’t fight for your man, he’s not worth having.
In the PBS documentary Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl, Sheryl Crow says country music is too cosmopolitan now. Do you agree?
I think so. We don’t have real country music anymore, not like they used to have. It’s more or less a pop sound. I think someone will probably save it. They’re going to have to, because you can’t lose something that we’ve had for a hundred years.
Are there any country artists you do like?
Miranda Lambert is good. The last record she had out, “Little Red Wagon,” I didn’t think that was good. It wasn’t real country. I hope they don’t try to put her down the middle of the road and start recording pop with her.
You’ve previously backed Donald Trump. Is he still your candidate?
I got a little mad at him the other day. He gets a little aggravated with people, and you can’t be like that. What he says he’s going to do, I think he can do. But I hope to heck he don’t mess that up.
When you worked with Jack White of the White Stripes on 2004’s Van Lear Rose, you made him chicken and dumplings. Is that your signature dish?
I thought, Well, maybe everybody don’t like beans and fried potatoes and corn bread like I do. They were a little cold, because he got down here a little late. I live 100 miles outside of Nashville. That way you write your own songs and you don’t listen to someone else telling you what they want to hear.
In the documentary, he describes watching you pull out dozens of song sheets to record. How many unreleased Loretta Lynn songs are you sitting on?
Hundreds of ’em, let me tell you. People get lazy.
Are you offended when people ask if you’ll retire?
Somebody asked Tammy Wynette one day, “Why don’t you move over and let us younger singers take over?” Tammy said, “Why don’t you try and move me?” Tammy told me that, and I laughed because I’ve had stuff like that happen to me. Try to move me! I could work every night if I wanted to.
Do you ever get tired of singing your signature songs?
Oh, I’ve been tired of them things for years. But the people don’t get tired of it.
This appears in the March 14, 2016 issue of TIME.
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