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Tom T. Hall

Tom T. Hall is known as a storyteller, a songwriter with a keen eye for detail and a knack for narrative. Many musicians have covered his songs -- most notably Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 hit "Harper Valley P.T.A." -- and he also has racked up a number of solo hits, including seven number one singles.

Hall is the son of a bricklaying minister, who gave his child a guitar at the age of eight. He had already begun to write poetry, so it was a natural progression for him to begin writing songs. Hall began learning music and performing techniques from a local musician, Clayton Delaney. At the age of 11, his mother died. Four years later, his father was shot in a hunting accident, which prevented him from working. In order to support himself and his father, Hall quit school and took a job in a local garment factory. While he was working in the factory, he formed his first band, the Kentucky Travelers. The group played bluegrass and gigged at local schools as well as a radio station in Morehead, Kentucky. The station was sponsored by the Polar Bear Flour Company; Hall wrote a jingle for the company. After the Kentucky Travelers broke up, Hall became a DJ at the radio station.

In 1957, Hall enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany. While in Germany, he performed at local NCO clubs on the Armed Forces Radio Network, where he sang mostly original material, which usually had a comic bent to it. After four years of service, he was discharged in 1961. Once he returned to the States, he enrolled in Roanoke College as a journalism student; he supported himself by DJ'ing at a radio station in Salem, Virginia.

One day a Nashville songwriter was visiting the Salem radio station and he heard Hall's songs. Impressed, the songwriter sent the songs to a publisher named Jimmy Key, who ran New Key Publishing. Key signed Hall as a songwriter, bringing the songs to a variety of recording artists. The first singer to have a hit with one of Hall's songs was Jimmy Newman, who brought "DJ for a Day" to number one on the country charts in 1963. In early 1964, Dave Dudley took "Mad" to the Top Ten. The back-to-back success convinced Hall to move to Nashville, where he planned to continue his career as a professional songwriter.

After Johnnie Wright had a number one hit with Hall's "Hello Vietnam," the music industry began pressuring Tom to become a performer. He decided to take the plunge in 1967, signing a contract with Mercury Records. His first single, "I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew," was released in the summer of 1967 and became a minor hit. Hall followed the single with two other singles in 1968 that failed to crack the Top 40. Then, in the late summer of 1968, Jeannie C. Riley had a major hit with Hall's "Harper Valley P.T.A.," which spent three weeks at the top of the charts and was voted the Single of the Year by the Country Music Association. Its success brought attention to Hall's own recording career, which was evident from the performance of "Ballad of Forty Dollars." The song became his first Top Ten hit, climbing all the way to number four.

Throughout 1969, he had a string of hit singles, culminated by the release of the number one single "A Week in a Country Jail" at the end of the year. The following year was just as successful, as "Shoeshine Man" and "Salute to a Switchblade" both hit the Top Ten. In 1971, he had his second number one single and his biggest hit, "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died," which was based on his childhood hero.

For most of the early '70s, Hall was a consistent hitmaker as well as a popular concert attraction. Between 1971 and 1976, he had five number one hits besides "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died": "(Old Dogs-Children And) Watermelon Wine," "I Love," "Country Is," "I Care," and "Faster Horses (The Cowboy and the Poet)." Hall was appearing on television shows with regularity during this time, particularly Hee Haw. He also wrote a book on songwriting, which led to his authorship of a pair of books in the late '70s and early '80s -- the semi-autobiography The Storyteller's Nashville (1979) and the novel The Laughing Man of Woodmont (1982).

Although he continued to have the occasional Top Ten hit in the late '70s -- most notably the number four "Your Man Loves You, Honey" (1977) -- Hall didn't deliver hit singles as consistently as he did during the first half of the decade. That pattern continued in the early '80s, when he began having trouble cracking the Top 40; only 1984's "P.S. I Love You," a cover of a 1934 Rudy Vallée hit, made it into the Top Ten. After 1986, Hall retired from recording, although artists continued to record his songs. In 1996, he delivered Songs from Sopchoppy, his first album in ten years. Hall was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2011. To celebrate his 75th birthday, producers Eric Brace and Peter Cooper assembled a tribute album covering Hall's 1974 album, Songs of Fox Hollow. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: We All Got Together...Storyteller

1. Turn It On, Turn It On, Turn It On

3. Pamela Brown

6. She Gave Her Heart To Jethro

7. Coot Marseilles Blues

8. The Monkey That Became President

11. Me And Jesus

12. More About John Henry

16. Willy The Wandering Gypsy And Me

18. Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine


Track List: In Search Of A Song / The Rhymer And Other Five And Dimers

1. The Year That Clayton Delaney Died

2. Who's Gonna Feed Them Hogs

3. Trip To Hyden

4. Tulsa Telephone Book

5. It Sure Can Get Cold In Des Moines

6. The Little Lady Preacher

8. Kentucky, February 27, 1971

9. A Million Miles To The City

10. Second Handed Flowers

11. Ramona's Revenge

12. Ravishing Ruby

13. Don't Forget The Coffee Billy Joe

14. Spokane Motel Blues

16. I Flew Over Our House Last Night

21. Candy In The Window

22. Old Five And Dimers Like Me

23. Hello, We're Lonely


Track List: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of Tom T. Hall

1. The Year That Clayton Delaney Died

2. Country Is

3. Ballad Of Forty Dollars

4. A Week In A Country Jail

5. Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine

6. Ravishing Ruby (Single Version)

7. I Like Beer

8. That Song Is Driving Me Crazy

9. I Care

10. Faster Horses (The Cowboy And The Poet)

11. P.S. I Love You

12. I Love


Track List: Home Grown

1. Bill Monroe For Breakfast

2. The Beautiful River Of Life

3. Legend Of The Lady Bear

4. Royal Annie

5. Waiting On The Other Shoe To Fall

6. Local Flowers

7. Watertown, Tennessee

8. The Way I've Always Been

9. Life Don't Have To Mean Nothing At All

10. Back When The Old Homeplace Was New

11. What A Song


Track List: Storyteller, Poet, Philosopher

Disc 1

1. Old Dogs, Children, And Watermelon Wine

2. Magnificent Music Machine

3. A Million Miles To The City

4. I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew

5. The Hitch-Hiker

6. Ballad Of Forty Dollars

7. I Hope It Rains At My Funeral

8. Turn It On, Turn It On, Turn It On

9. Strawberry Farms

10. Watergate Blues

11. I Want To See The Parade

12. 100 Children

13. The Year That Clayton Delaney Died

14. The Son Of Clayton Delaney

15. The Old Side Of Town

16. I Can't Dance

17. Last Of The Drifters

18. Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken)

19. A Week In A Country Jail

20. Spokane Motel Blues

21. Homecoming

22. Ravishing Ruby

23. Hello, We're Lonely

24. Down At The Mall

25. Fox On The Run

Disc 2

1. Shoeshine Man

2. Flat Footin'

3. Old Five And Dimers Like Me

4. Willy The Wandering Gypsy And Me

5. More About John Henry

6. Give Her My Best

7. Pamela Brown

8. I Flew Over Our House Last Night

9. Molly And Tenbrooks (feat. Bill Monroe)

10. The Monkey That Became President

11. That's How I Got To Memphis

12. Mama's Got The Catfish Blues

13. I Like Beer

14. Day Drinkin' (Feat. Dave Dudley)

15. That Song Is Driving Me Crazy

16. Salute To A Switchblade

17. Margie's At The Lincoln Park Inn

18. Subdivision Blues

19. America The Ugly

20. Hang Them All

21. Levi Jones

22. Faster Horses

23. I'm Forty Now

24. Deal

25. Me and Jesus


Track List: Country Classics

1. The Year That Clayton Delaney Died

2. Me And Jesus

3. I Love

4. Homecoming

5. Ballad Of Forty Dollars

6. Ravishing Ruby

7. Country Is

8. Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine

9. That Song Is Driving Me Crazy

10. Everything From Jesus To Jack Daniels (Bonus Track)

11. Who's Gonna Feed Them Hogs (Bonus Track)


Track List: 100 Children / I Witness Life


Track List: Ballad Of Forty Dollars / Homecoming

1. That's How I Got To Memphis

2. Cloudy Day

6. Ain't Got The Time

7. Ballad Of Forty Dollars

8. I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew

10. The World The Way I Want It

13. A Week In The Country Jail

14. Strawberry Farms

15. Shoeshine Man

18. Margie's At The Lincoln Park Inn

19. Homecoming

21. Flat-Footin' It

23. I Miss A Lot Of Trains


Track List: The Essential Tom T. Hall: The Story Songs

1. The Year That Clayton Delaney Died

2. It Sure Can Get Cold In Des Moines

3. Ravishing Ruby

4. The Little Lady Preacher

5. A Week In A County Jail

6. Ballad Of Forty Dollars

8. Who's Gonna Feed Them Hogs

9. Salute To A Switchblade

10. Turn It On, Turn It On, Turn It On

11. Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine

12. Coot Marseilles Blues

13. Don't Forget The Coffee Billy Joe

14. Homecoming

15. Trip To Hyden

16. The Ballad Of Bill Crump

17. Second Handed Flowers

18. She Gave Her Heart To Jethro

19. Pay No Attention To Alice

20. Before Jessie Died


Track List: The Magnificent Music Machine

1. Fox On The Run

2. Paradise

3. Mama's Got The Catfish Blues

4. Bluegrass Break Up

5. I Don't Want My Golden Slippers

6. Molly And Tenbrooks (Feat. Bill Monroe)

7. The Fastest Rabbit Dog In Carter County Today

8. I'll Never Do Better Than You

9. Magnificent Music Machine

10. Rank Stranger

11. Bluegrass Festival In The Sky


Track List: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2

1. Country Is

2. I Love

3. The Little Lady Preacher

4. Sneaky Snake

5. I Like Beer

6. Ravishing Ruby

7. Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine

8. Deal

9. Who's Gonna Feed Them Hogs

10. That Song Is Driving Me Crazy

11. I Care


Track List: Tom T. Hall's Greatest Hits

2. Shoeshine Man

3. I Miss A Lot Of Trains

4. Salute To A Switchblade

6. Ballad Of Forty Dollars

7. The Year That Clayton Delaney Died

8. That's How I Got To Memphis

9. A Week In A Country Jail

10. One Hundred Children

11. Me And Jesus


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Nothing better than a lazy evening listening to Tom T Hall on a bluetooth Bose speaker on the patio watching the sun go down
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Glory, Glory, Glory...!
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Wish he was still writing singing, miss his truisms!
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Tom T. Hall's singing brings tears to my eyes...touch e s one soul.
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I grew up with Tom T Hall... I can't imagine what it would have been like w/out his beautiful ballads..... . Thank you Tom T!!!
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He was always funny on Hee-Haw. Used to watch it every Saturday night with mama and daddy and family. Good times and Mr. Hall also had a nice country voice and his music always had a theme to them....good or bad....very nice stuff.
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Tom T. Hall is my favorite country singer of all time, I love listening to his stories that he puts to music.
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We need to get more of this music played ...all over the world!
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Tom t Hall, my grandfather used to sing Clayton Delaney, to me in the yard raking leaves, love you Grady Bolls
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Hi how are you
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Still great story teller.!!!!
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Brings tears to a persons eyes...
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Tom T. Hall? ballads from the HEART of Americana. #numero uno songwriter for years
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I've been listening to Tom T. Hall for as long as I can remember. Never tire of hearing his real music.
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Still great story's
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Trend setter in story telling songs, forever
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Tom T. Hall..trend setter in torun telling songs...fore v e r .
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Haven't heard this in years! Love it.
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Makes your heart feel full.
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What happened to this kind of beautiful music? This is real music.
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He made an altar out of a stump
We should live out lives for the creator of that stump!
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One of a kind. Faster Horses and Clayton Delaney are 2 of his works that are unparalleled .
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smithcarter1 8 1
I believe he wrote pretty green hills, song by Dave Evans. . Great song and two great artists
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He is the king of storytellers , My favorite singer and I could listen to his music for hours
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Sneaky snake?
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I've had this station for a year!!
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I saw many times in the 70's I can't even count em. At the old pal amino club. My favorite by his is "I flew over our house last night". Anyone that has ever had a love go bad can feel the "regret" on that song. It still tugs the heart.
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Yea you right.
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Im a young guy and Tom T. Hall is a great singer I would really like to listen to Tom T. Hall music forever because I love country music. I really am so proud that we have great country singers in America I want that tradition to go on forever because I think its great for people to listen to and enjoy really I do know that for a fact everyone should listen to country music forever.
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Would like more info on how and what
Tom t is doing know
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Love that song.
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I have loved his music since I was in junior high (many years ago). One song I remember that I haven't heard on here is Sneaky Snake. There has never been a better story-tellin g singer than Tom.
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Tom T. Hall was a good singers i love I love song and other and guys out there tom t hall ain't dead yet he is i think he is like 77 and Ronnie millsap is like 71 he is still alive too
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One of my favorite singers and writers. His songs tell stories. Also like Pig Robbins who plays piano for some of his albums.
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i love the song i like beer
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Tom T. is the best storyteller ever. I do some of his songs at Karaoke and they are alwasy a hit, not for me but Tom T. I truly knows how tell a story. I like the one about Ramona. Also CLayton Delany, That Song is Drivin' Me Crazy.
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Part 2 ... watermelon wine. I believe his songs will resonate with people as long as people still have time to sit and listen. God Bless
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Tom T. Hall never told you what to feel, he allowed you as a listener to feel it firsthand... T h e worlds he opened in the heartbreakin g honesty of the traveling musician in The Homecoming and the wonderful stories of the Ballad of Forty Dollars, or The Week in a County Jail leaving you hanging on every word sometimes blurring the lines with humour and trajedy .Or the amazing schronicity of a writer aware of the universal truth in fromt of him and to put it down in Old Dogs and Children and Waterm
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i think he is great
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youthsponsor d a v e
His music has a special place in my childhood:-)
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Loved "Sneaky Snake" as a little girl. Remember my sister and I singing it and giggling about it!!!
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best ever!!!!!!!
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I love anything that Tom T Hall sings. He is awesome.
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Dad brought me up on his songs. Imagine a 3rd grade little girl singing one of his songs for talent day (not very well either) in the mid 70s.
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Love the old stuff
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