DEL MAR — After almost 30 years in the business, country singer Loretta Lynn still gets excited about being on the road. Lynn, traveling with two buses and 23 crew and band members, will play more than 100 shows by the end of her tour.
"We all start to get on each other's nerves," she said in a sweet Southern drawl on the telephone during a tour stop in Reno, Nev. "I get on them when they're ornery, but when we get to the hotel, I lock myself in my room."
Lynn, in her early 50s, has been touring on and off since March and will make a stop in San Diego County to perform at the Del Mar Fair at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. She said she enjoys playing fairs more than nightclubs.
"I like what goes on at fairs," she said. "I like to eat all that greasy food, cotton candy and sausage."
Lynn, one of the most honored women in country music, is known as the "Coal Miner's Daughter" from the song she wrote and the biographical movie. She may also be one of the richest women in country music. Besides having 16 No. 1 hits, the Kentuckian owns several tourist attractions--campgrounds, restaurants and gift shops.
Lynn finished work recently on a songbook of her hit tunes, which includes lyrics and anecdotes.
"That's at press now," she said. "I don't think I'm going to give that over to a publishing company. I want to get rid of the middleman. I'm just going to sell the book in my gift shops. After a long time in this business, I know about getting taken advantage of."
Although she has become a shrewd businesswoman, Lynn said her heart is really in music. With country music taking a swing back to its roots, spawning new traditionalists such as Randy Travis and fellow Kentuckians The Judds and Dwight Yoakam, Lynn is back in her element.
"There was a time when country music was splitting down the middle," Lynn said. "Country singers were doing pop and pop singers were doing country and neither of them were doing what they do best.
"I think Randy Travis is about as country as cornbread. He's even more country than me. I like what those young people are doing, like Ricky Skaggs. That's what country music is all about."
Lynn will be heading back to Nashville after her last show in Los Angeles to record two albums for MCA Records, one of which will be a duet project with long-time partner Conway Twitty. They hope to release a single from the album before fall. Lynn said she and Twitty are also thinking of making a record of country and pop oldies.
"We don't know what we're going to do yet," she said. "But when we get together, it don't take us long to figure out things. Maybe that's why we've been touring together for seven years."
Lynn said that she and Twitty split up on this tour, each taking half the band, because their fans weren't thinking of them as individuals any more.
She is dedicated to bringing her country music across the country. "I've been doing it so long I don't know anything else," Lynn said.