Recorded at Mercury in 1971 , “One’s on the Way” was released as a single in November 1971 ( as single from album “ One’s on the Way” of Loretta Lynn . Written by Shel Silverstein, it climbed to #1 on the US Billboard Country charts and to the position number 1 in Canadian RPM Country Tracks.
Country music writer Tom Roland described “One’s on the Way” as a “humorous piece on motherhood,” wherein a stay-at-home mother in Topeka, Kansas (pregnant with the latest in a family of several children) contemplates her hectic lifestyle and compares her conditions to the glamor-based lives of Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor. The song also makes reference to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy at the White House and sex symbol actress Raquel Welch again in contrast to the housewife vocalist’s conventional life.
The song was the latest in a series of what genre historian Bill Malone said was “feisty” songs from Lynn. In effect, “One’s on the Way” and similarly themed songs, such as “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” and “The Pill”, helped Lynn become “the spokeswoman for every woman who had gotten married too early, pregnant too often and felt trapped by the tedium and drudgery of her life.”
Each of the song’s verses has Lynn speaking in awe about the outside world. For instance, in the first verse, she draws comparisons between such things as Taylor flying to France to have her hair done and the joy and gaity of the social scene in Washington and her own dull life:
Here in Topeka, the rain is a-fallin’,
the faucet is a-drippin’,
and the kids are a-bawlin’
At one point, she angers her husband after a misunderstanding (he had called from a nearby tavern to announce he was bringing some old Army friends home, just as she was trying to shoo one of her children away from somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be). The end of the song includes Lynn sighing, “Gee, I hope it ain’t twins again!”
On the other hand, the lyrics—considering there is no apparent jealousy in the way in which they are sung in the Loretta Lynn version—can be taken as a sardonic observation on the shallow, pointless existence of the glitterati by one who is living a more common life. At some points in the lyrics the singer mentions the (then new) birth control pill and women’s liberation movement, seeming to lament that such changes will soon affect the rest of the country, but may never have a real influence on her life.
Loretta appeared as a guest star in episode 8 of season 3 of The Muppet Show in 1978 and sang this song.
In later years when Lynn would perform the song in concert, she would frequently substitute references to the now deceased Jacqueline Kennedy (called simply “Jackie” in the song) with Nancy Reagan, but presently uses Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States. Despite the March 2011 death of Elizabeth Taylor, Loretta does still include “Liz” in the song.
Some Versions :
Loretta Lynn November 6, 1971
Norma Jean August 1972
Sissy Spacek March 7, 1980
Heidi Hauge 2007
Lallie Bridges May 2, 2008
Melinda Schneider & Beccy Cole
Loretta Lynn – One’s On The Way Lyrics
They say to have her hair done Liz flies all the way to France
And Jackie’s seen in a discotheque doing a brand new dance
And the White House social season should be glittering and gay
But here in Topeka the rain is a-falling
The faucet is a dripping
And the kids are a-bawling
One of them is toddling
And one is a-crawling
And one’s on the way
I’m glad that Raquel Welch just signed a million dollar pact
And Debbie’s out in Vegas, working up a brand new act
While the TV’s showing Newlyweds a real fun game to play
But here in Topeka the screen door’s a-banging
The coffee’s boiling over
And the wash needs a hanging
One wants a cookie
And one wants a changing
And one’s on the way
Now what was I doing?
Jimmy get away from there
Darn there goes the phone
What’s that you say?
You’re bringing a few ole Army buddies home?
You’re calling from a bar?
Get away from there!
No not you honey I was talkin’ to the baby wait a minute honey the door bell
Honey could you stop at the market and hello hello well I’ll be
The girls in New York City, they all march for women’s lib
And Better Homes and Gardens shows the modern way to live
And the pill may change the world tomorrow
But meanwhile today
Here in Topeka the flies are a-buzzing
The dog is a-barking and the floor needs a scrubbing
One needs a spanking and one needs a hugging Lord
One’s on the way
Oh gee I hope it ain’t twins again