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  LL. & Cool J: The Woman 'n' White 
A Review of Van Lear Rose by Lorretta Lynn 
(Produced by Jack White of the White Stripes) 

The Rock Doc.  
“When I heard Van Lear Rose
I got a tingling feelin'
From my head down to my toes
Heaven knows
And it showed
When I heard Van Lear Rose...
Extracted from "When I Heard Van Lear Rose"
Words and music by Dr. B.L.T. (c) 2004 
 
Rock has been resurrected. Country rocks! The spirit of The Man in Black is alive and well in Van Lear Rose. Ever since Johnny Cash passed away back on September 12, 2003, I've been searching for his spirit. 

I've had to travel down some pretty dark roads to find it.  But it's here, it's there, it's everywhere.  

The first dark road I traveled was Buck Owens Boulevard, in Bakersfield, California, where I pulled up to the Crystal Palace just a few days after Johnny Cash had passed away.  It was at this great Buck Owens establishment that I witnessed country legend Buck Owens joining spirits with Cake frontman, John McCrea,in a performance that was imbued with the spirit of Cash.   

More recently, I traveled down that same dark road and entered the same Palace where I found the spirit of Johnny Cash alive and well in one of the most promising new country artists of our time-Mr. Josh Turner

On Thursday, May 6, 2004, I traveled down the same dark road that Merle Haggard often took on his way to perform at small, bars long before he became a big star: Highway 99 South.  After teaching a class at Chapman University in Visalia, California, I stopped by a Borders Books on Mooney Boulevard and picked a copy of Van Lear Rose.  Sure, I knew that I would be receiving a complimentary reviewers copy in a few days.  Perhaps it was already waiting in my mailbox in Bakersfield.  I couldn't wait.  After coming across glowing reviews by LA Times staff writer Robert Hilburn; Billboard magazine writer Deborah Evans; and Country Weekly writer Wendy Newcomer, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. I could say that these gifted writers stole my thunder, but the thunder was never mine for them to steal, and besides, they are the lightening rods in the business, so they are the first ones to pick up on the thunder and the first ones to get struck by lightening (in this case, White lightening).  Besides, this was a big storm, so there was much more thunder and lightening to come.  More treasures can be extracted each time I listen to the CD.
 
“Little Red Shoes” is a prime example in which Lynn's narrative, sing-song voice is brilliantly set to a beautiful musical frame that playfully echoes variegated vocal tones.  The volume of Lynn's voice is buried just below the relative volume of the instrumental arrangement, so that the story-song almost takes on a subliminal, hypnotic quality.  Each time I hear the song, the story becomes enhanced and it is a great story indeed.  Like so many other stories told through the medium of passionately charged country rock, the story of the red shoes comes from straight from Loretta's heart.

The sweet smell of the thorn-embraced Van Lear Rose does not come from producer Jack White's brilliance alone. Neither is it Loretta Lynn's powerful voice or her immense musical talent alone that makes this CD what it is: a glorious, refreshingly authentic masterpiece. It’s not the genius of either that either can cling to as their claim to fame, but the “geni-US”--two passionate souls have pooled their resources and reached to the bottom of their tortured, if triumphant, souls to create a seamless series of intimate song-stories that make country rock like it hasn't rocked since Johnny Cash took “Folsom Prison Blues” to Folsom Prison.
 
LL Cool J-you're a slick, talented rapper, and a pretty fine actor, but you've got nothing on L.L. and the cool "J".  Loretta Lynn and Jack White, the duo I call The Woman 'n' White, have made the Man in Black come back just to take a listen.  He was having a heck of a time in heaven with June, but I think he's discovered that even the angels can't top Van Lear Rose.  

By psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. B.L.T., 

 
 

 

   
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