Tom T. Hall

Thomas T. Hall (born May 25, 1936) is an American country music songwriter, singer, instrumentalist, novelist, and short-story writer. He has written 12 No. 1 hit songs, with 26 more that reached the Top 10, including the No. 1 international pop crossover smash "Harper Valley PTA" and the hit "I Love", which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. He is included in Rolling Stones list of 100 Greatest Songwriters. He became known to fans as "The Storyteller," thanks to his storytelling skills in his songwriting.

Tom T. Hall
Hall in 1967
Hall in 1967
Background information
Birth nameThomas Hall
Born (1936-05-25) May 25, 1936 (age 84)
OriginOlive Hill, Kentucky, U.S.
GenresBluegrass, country, Outlaw Country, Folk
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, saxophone
Years active1963–2011
LabelsMercury, RCA, Columbia
Blue Circle
Associated actsDave Dudley, Patti Page, Johnnie Wright, Roger Miller, Johnny Cash

Early life and careerEdit

Hall was born in Olive Hill, Kentucky, United States.[1] As a teenager, he organized a band called the Kentucky Travelers that performed before movies for a traveling theater.[1] During a stint in the Army, Hall performed over the Armed Forces Radio Network and wrote comic songs about Army experiences.[1] Following his time in the army he used the G.I. Bill program to enroll at Roanoke College, where he worked as a disc jockey.[2] His early career included being a radio announcer at WRON, a local radio station in Ronceverte, West Virginia. Hall was also an announcer at WMOR 1330AM in Morehead, Kentucky. Hall was also an announcer at WSPZ, which later became WVRC Radio in Spencer, West Virginia, in the 1960s.[3]

Hall's big songwriting break came in 1963, when country singer Jimmy C. Newman recorded his song, "DJ For a Day."[1] In 1964, Hall moved to Nashville and started to work as a $50-a-week songwriter for Newkeys Music, the publishing company belonging to Newman and his business partner Jimmy Key, writing up to half a dozen country songs per day.[4] Key suggested that he add the middle initial "T" to his name.[4] Hall has been nicknamed "The Storyteller," and he has written songs for dozens of country stars, including Johnny Cash, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Alan Jackson, and Bobby Bare.

One of his earliest successful songwriting ventures, "Harper Valley PTA," recorded in 1968 by Jeannie C. Riley,[1] hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Country Singles charts a week apart, sold over six million copies, and won both a Grammy Award and CMA Award. The song would go on to inspire a motion picture and television program of the same name. Hall himself has recorded this song, on his album The Definitive Collection (as track No. 23). Hall's recording career took off after Riley's rendition of the song, releasing a number of hits from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Some of Hall's biggest hits include "A Week in a Country Jail", "(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine", "I Love", "Country Is", "The Year Clayton Delaney Died", "I Like Beer", "Faster Horses (the Cowboy and the Poet)", "That Song Is Driving Me Crazy" and many others.[1] He is also noted for his children-oriented songs, including "Sneaky Snake" and "I Care", the latter of which hit No. 1 on the country charts in 1975. In 1979, Hall appeared on the PBS music program Austin City Limits during Season 4.

Hall has largely been retired from writing new material since 1986[5] and from performing since about 1994;[6] his last public performance, which was also his first in several years, was in 2011.[7]


Hall won the Grammy Award for Best Album Notes in 1973 for the notes he wrote for his album Tom T. Hall's Greatest Hits. He was nominated for, but did not win, the same award in 1976 for his album Greatest Hits Volume 2. He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1971.[8][9]

Together with his wife Dixie Hall he won the Bluegrass Song Writer of the Year award in 2002,[10] 2003,[11] 2004,[12] 2005,[13] 2007,[14] 2008,[15] 2009,[16] 2010,[17] 2011,[18] 2013,[19] 2014,[20] and 2015,[21] awarded annually by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA).


Hall succeeded Ralph Emery as host of the syndicated country music TV show Pop! Goes the Country in 1980 and continued until the series ended in 1982.[22] He also composed the theme song for Fishin' with Orlando Wilson.

In the mid-to-late 1970s, Hall was a commercial spokesperson for Chevrolet trucks.


His 1996 song "Little Bitty", from the album Songs from Sopchoppy, became a No. 1 single that year when it was recorded by Alan Jackson for the album Everything I Love.

In 1998 his 1972 song "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine" came in second in a BBC Radio 2 poll to find the UK's favorite easy listening record, despite never having been a hit in the UK and being familiar to Radio 2 listeners mostly through occasional plays by DJ Terry Wogan.[23]

His song "I Love", in which the narrator lists the things in life that he loves, was used, with altered lyrics and a hard rock arrangement, in a popular 2003 TV commercial for Coors Light,[24] and also used in 2014 in a TV advertisement for Clipper Teas.

On July 3, 2007, he released the CD Tom T. Hall Sings Miss Dixie & Tom T. on his independent bluegrass label Blue Circle Records.

On June 1, 2014, Rolling Stone magazine ranked "(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine" No. 93 in their list of the 100 greatest country songs.[25]

Hall of fameEdit

Hall was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2002.[26]

On February 12, 2008, Hall was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.[27] In regard to Hall's longer-than-anticipated wait to be inducted, he attributed it to being somewhat reclusive and "not well liked" among the Nashville music industry, noting that he almost never collaborated with other songwriters and by the 1990s was largely out of step with the corporate style of country music.[6]

In November 2018 Hall and his wife Dixie Hall were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.[28]

On June 13, 2019, Hall was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Of all the honors he had received in his lifetime, he considered the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction to be his proudest moment and the pinnacle of his achievement, also stating he was taken by surprise for even being considered.[29]

Personal lifeEdit

Tom Hall was married to bluegrass songwriter and producer Dixie Hall from 1969 until her death on January 16, 2015. Dixie Hall was born Iris Lawrence in the West Midlands, England, in 1934 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1961.[30][31][32] They lived in Franklin, Tennessee.[30] Tom and Dixie met at a 1965 music industry award dinner she was invited to for having written (as Dixie Deen) the song "Truck Drivin’ Son-of-a-Gun" which became a hit for Dave Dudley.[31]

Hall has a son, Dean Hall, from his 1961 marriage to Opal "Hootie" McKinney from Grayson, Kentucky.[33][34] In the early '80s Dean Hall, who is a singer, musician and songwriter, worked for his father, first as a roadie and then as a guitar player, before joining Bobby Bare’s band.[33]


Books written by HallEdit

  • How I Write Songs, Why You Can (1976), Chappell Music Co.
  • The Songwriter's Handbook (1976), Rutledge Hill Press
  • The Storyteller's Nashville (1979), Doubleday & Co.; (Spring House Press, 2016), ISBN 978-1-940611-44-0
  • The Laughing Man of Woodmont Coves (1982), Doubleday & Co.
  • The Acts of Life (1986), The University Of Arkansas Press
  • Homewords (1986), The University of Tennessee Press
  • Christmas and the Old House (1989), Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Spring Hill, Tennessee (1990), Longstreet Press, Inc.
  • What a Book! (1996), Longstreet Press, Inc.

Use in MediaEdit

  • That's How I Got to Memphis used in The Newsroom TV Series Season 3 Final Episode 'What Kind of Day Has it Been'
  • “Homecoming” used in Master of None Season 1, Episode 6 ‘Nashville’

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 561/2. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ "Artists Spotlight | Roanoke College". Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  3. ^ "History of WSPZ/WVRC, Spencer". WVRC. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Batey, Angus (March 15, 2015). "Cult heroes: Tom T Hall, the singer who wrote of real lives and changing times". The Guardian. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  5. ^ "Tom T. Hall Biography". Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Tom T.Hall keeps a rappin' – October 1997". Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  7. ^ Konc, Riane. "Tom T. + Dixie Hall – Country's Greatest Love Stories". The Boot. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  8. ^ "Tom T. Hall". Grand Ole Opry. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  9. ^ "Opry Member List PDF" (PDF). April 23, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 7, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  10. ^ "2002 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  11. ^ "2003 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "2004 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  13. ^ "2005 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  14. ^ "2007 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  15. ^ "2008 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  16. ^ "2009 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  17. ^ "2010 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  18. ^ "2011 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  19. ^ "2013 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  20. ^ "2014 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  21. ^ "2015 Award Winners". Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  22. ^ "Full cast and crew for "Pop! Goes the Country"". IMDb. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  23. ^ "Eagles' Hotel Flys to Top of Poll". Birmingham Post. December 8, 1998. p. 16. Archived from the original on February 20, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2016 – via Highbeam Research.
  24. ^ "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW – 1-26-03 – PROCESS – How to Write a Catchy Beer Ad". The New York Times. January 26, 2003. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  25. ^ "93. Tom T. Hall, 'Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine' (1972)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  26. ^ "KMHF Inductees". Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  27. ^ "Tom T. Hall and The Statler Brothers Join the Country Music Hall of Fame". Broadcast Music, Inc. August 5, 2008. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  28. ^ Kessler, K (November 14, 2018). "Award Category: Hall of Fame Inductees". IBMA. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b Cooper, Peter (February 5, 2015). "Dixie Hall, prolific bluegrass songwriter dies at 80". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  31. ^ a b Himes, Jeffrey (January 13, 2008). "Who Needs Country Radio? Not Tom T. Hall". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  32. ^ "Dixie Hall". discogs. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  33. ^ a b "Tom T. Hall's Son?". Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  34. ^ Hall, Tom T. (October 2016). The Storyteller's Nashville. Spring House Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-940611-44-0.

External linksEdit