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And the new queen of country is....

Country Musings by Robert Loy, June 1998

It's time to crown the new queen of country music. Past time, actually; the throne has been empty since Her Royal Highness Loretta abdicated the throne.

In order to be Monarch of Middle American Music, a candidate must have a solid track record. No flashes-in-pans need apply. She must represent country music well no major scandals or skeletons. She must also (sorry, but this is the video age) be beautiful. (But by the same token, she shouldn't take herself too seriously.) And, of course, she should have red hair. (It looks so good with the purple robe.)

Two candidates pass the above requirements: Royal Reba and Peerless Patty. Let's see if we can winnow it down further.

The new queen must be content to be queen. She shouldn't see the throne as a stepping stone to bigger and "better" things, such as crossover success or movie stardom. I don't doubt Reba's countryness for a second, but she does keep popping up in movies a lot lately. The other night I saw her play a race car driver in "The Little Rascals." Hardly appropriate for an empress.

And the new Queen must be consistent. Reba is consistently good, but Patty Loveless is consistently great. Her last three albums will stand the test of time as some of the best of the 1990's. That's not my opinion; it's verifiable scientific fact. If you don't believe it, put on your lab coat and listen. If you don't get goose bumps there's something wrong with you, and you will not be invited to the coronation cotillion.

Not only that, but (for those believe in blood succession) Patty is kin to the last Czarina, a cousin of Loretta Lynn.

So Dah!Dah!Dahdahdah! the new Queen of Country Music joining the hallowed ranks of Patsy, Tammy and Loretta - is Patty Loveless.

Queen Patty. You gotta like the sound of that.