Aftermath: Loretta Lynn at Arena Theatre
Photos by Craig Hlavaty
The Arena Theatre off the Southwest Freeway was completely packed with gray-haired grannies, tattooed gals in Misfits tees, well-coiffed gay men and even the stray cowboy or two who wandered away from the cook-off to see one of the last country music's old guard. Oldsters came running up to the theatre's revolving stage numerous times during the show to foist things on Lynn for her to sign, yelling out requests and "I Love You"s Imagine a rabid and loving gang of grandmas wielding disposable cameras and magic markers.
"Dear Uncle Sam" was recorded in 1966 at the height of the Vietnam War, and Lynn began singing it live again at the beginning of the current Iraq War. It's the chronicle of a woman giving up her man to the war effort, only to get a telegram informing her of his death. It's the kind of song that sadly gets played in places like Killeen too many times to bear.
At the end of the show, Miss Loretta got up from her seat, thanked the rabid crowd and walked back up the theatre's ramp to her waiting bus. She stepped over mounds of flowers and even a coal-mining helmet a fan had made for her lain before her on stage. She walked by all of us and her blue dress seemed to twinkle like a million stars shining over the Blue Ridge Mountains.