Elvis Presley inspired her to start a rock n roll band (an all GIRL band btw) in high school. In a 2012 interview with LA Record she said "in fact I was in a way sorta wearing my hair like Elvis. But I wouldn’t do that again now, Lord! But at the time I was trying to shape my hair like Elvis Presley. Of course—when I got older I was still into the music. " At this time she began to develop her famous and highly unusual upside down left-handed guitar playing technique.
In 1962 she recorded her first self-penned hit "You'll Lose A Good Thing" which helped to usher in an era of feminist-leaning pop and soul music. She was a woman declaring her worth at a time when women were encouraged to stand by their men and keep their mouths shut. More importantly, she was a Black woman declaring her worth in the heat of the Civil Rights Era. Her music was revolutionary.
I had the honor of hanging out with her for 3 days in 2005. This was right before the current wave of vintage soul resurgence. Younger folks didn't really know who Barbara Lynn was at the time. Some how we convinced her to come up to Olympia and play Ladyfest backed by local punk musicians Chris Sutton, Olivia Ness, and Warren Lee. I can't tell you how incredible it was to tell her how much her music has meant to me. Among many other things, I spoke to her about the feminist theme that ran through her compositions. She didn't really seem aware of her legacy. She didn't know there was a series of compilations on Europe named after her song "I'm A Good Woman". She also didn't know that other artists had covered the song.
When the concert came around she took the feminist theme and RAN with it, inserting epic empowering spoken interludes during her songs "You'll Lose a Good Thing" and "I'm a Good Woman." It was a show for the ages. The best time of my life!
I'm happy to say that since that show Barbara has received a lot more attention from a whole new generation of fans. "I'm A Good Woman" is now a standard on the soul dance floors across the nation and she's receiving credit for being the groundbreaking pioneer she's always been.
The Record of the Day is another example of Barbara's advocating for her self-worth. She's taken all she's gonna take! No more BS!