Tom T. Hall, country great known as “The Storyteller,” RIP
Tom T. Hall, one of the great storytellers in country music, died on Friday at age 85. “Tom T. Hall's masterworks vary in plot, tone, and tempo, but they are bound by his ceaseless and unyielding empathy for the triumphs and losses of others," Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, wrote in a statement. "He wrote without judgment or anger, offering a rhyming journalism of the heart that sets his compositions apart from any other writer. He was a storyteller, a philosopher, a whiskey maker, a novelist, a poet, a painter, a benefactor, a letter writer, a gift giver, a gentleman farmer, and many more things. My bet is that we won't see the likes of him again, but if we do I'll be first in line for tickets to the show.”
Born in 1936, Hall was a radio disc jockey while writing his own songs that he hoped would one day get played on the airwaves. After selling a song in 1963, he moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting and music full time and his nack for nuanced characters earned him the nickname "The Storyteller," and his songs were recorded by everyone from Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Waylon Jennings and more. It was 1968 classic "Harper Valley P.T.A." -- which went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for Jeannie C. Riley -- that brought him acclaim beyond the country charts. In the 1970s he became a country star in his own right, with such hits as "(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine", "I Love", "Country Is", "I Like Beer", and "Faster Horses (the Cowboy and the Poet)."
Hall took his knack for storytelling further as a novelist and short story writer.
Rest in peace, Tom. Listen to some of his classics, and read a few tributes, below.