Tom T. Hall, the singer-songwriter who brought new levels of pungent wit and narrative sensitivity to country music as one of the genre’s leading figures in the 1970s, died Friday at age 85.
The long-retired Hall died at his home in Franklin, Tenn., his son Dean Hall told the Tennessean.
Hall had decades ago been bestowed with the nickname of “The Storyteller” — which, as a singular honorific in a genre as historically rich with story-songs as country, was saying something.
As a songwriter, Hall was known for hits for others, like “Harper Valley PTA,” recorded by Jeannie C. Riley in 1968, as well as his own unusually literary No. 1 country singles of the ’70s like “The Year Clayton Delaney Died” and “(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine.” Not that all of his songs had to be that eloquent to get across; he’s also famous for the prosaically titled “I Like Beer,” a top 10 hit in 1975.
I either didn't know he wrote Harper Valley or Watermelon, or I forget. Could go either way.
My favorite Tom T. song, by a young Leo Kottke. I saw him do this one in a boat with Bill Dance, I think: