Lera Lynn: More than Just the Sad Bar Singer on “True Detective”

As I’ve been watching HBO’s “True Detective” Season 2, there have been so many questions: “Can female detectives really wear skinny jeans and cool shirts on the job?” (according to a real cop – turns out this is true, as long as it doesn’t restrict your motion), “Did Vince Vaughn known when he was filming ‘The Internship’ that he would once again get a chance at a serious acting job?’ (No, maybe?), and probably most important, “WHO IS that sad-eyed lady singing those heartbreakingly depressing songs in the bar that Frank and Ray (and sometimes Ani) frequent?”

If you Google “singer true detective bar”, the internet responds by letting you know the lady is American singer-songwriter Lera Lynn. But why stop there? Here are 10 cool things to know about her:

1. She was born in Texas, raised in Georgia and Louisiana, and now lives in Nashville.

According to Wikipedia, Lynn has had a life-long helping of good Southern living — giving her the perfect material (and musical influence) for coming up with ideas for those sad sad songs that evoke the darkest bits of the American experience.

Lera Lynn
Photo by Ixchel Lara

2. Her manager hooked her up with ‘True Detective’ musical supervisor T Bone Burnett, and the rest is kinda history.

Lynn’s manager, Sheri Sands, knew Burnett from working together on the Robert Plant + Alison Krauss album Raising Sand. Sands asked Burnett if he would be interested in using a song off of Lynn’s new EP, Lying in the Sun, for “True Detective” and after taking a listen, he asked for a meeting with Lynn in Nashville. Once he had Lynn there in person, Burnett asked if she would like to write some original songs together for the show. Lynn jumped at the chance.

She even got to co-write with Rosanne Cash on the haunting song “My Least Favorite Life” from the show:

3. “True Detective” showrunner Nic Pizzolatto gave her super-vauge concepts to write songs about, and hardly any time to practice them once written.

Out of fear of leaking any plot points or major twists about the show, Nic Pizzolatto gave very little information about the story arc to Lynn. He’d basically just give her a sense of the mood/tone he wanted — maybe a basic concept like “write a song about church ruins” that that was basically it. After the song was written, Pizzolatto would rush to film it — Lynn told Noisey, “[Nic] wanted very languid performances and it was difficult to do that because we’d just write the song and then immediately set up the mics and I’d record it.”

4. She doesn’t want to be tied to the Man. She self-releases all of her own music, thankyouverymuch.

For Lynn, artistic control is most important, and that’s why she self-produces and releases with the help of artist-friendly outfits like Slow Records. She told the Chicago Reader that’s she’s had offers from labels, “but the most important thing … is being able to make the music that I want to make, and to be able to perform it the way I want to perform it. That’s not always in line with the business side of things.”

5. She credits her mom with introducing music into her life in a significant way.

Lynn’s mom was a singer in a rock music cover band, and that’s how she first got introduced to music. Mom also would play all sorts of artists, from Vince Gill to Joni Mitchell to Michael Jackson around the house, giving Lynn wide exposure to all sorts of musical genres.
Continue reading “Lera Lynn: More than Just the Sad Bar Singer on “True Detective””