By KRISTIN M. HALL | Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tom T. Hall, the singer-songwriter who composed “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and sang astir life’s elemental joys arsenic state music’s consummate bluish collar bard, has died. He was 85.
His son, Dean Hall, confirmed the musician’s decease connected Friday astatine his location successful Franklin, Tennessee. Known arsenic “The Storyteller” for his unadorned yet incisive lyrics, Hall composed hundreds of songs.
Along with specified contemporaries arsenic Kris Kristofferson, John Hartford and Mickey Newbury, Hall helped usher successful a literate epoch of state euphony successful the aboriginal ’70s, with songs that were political, similar “Watergate Blues” and “The Monkey That Became President,” profoundly idiosyncratic similar “The Year Clayton Delaney Died,” and philosophical similar “(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine.”
“In each my writing, I’ve ne'er made judgments,” helium said successful 1986. “I deliberation that’s my secret. I’m a witness. I conscionable ticker everything and don’t determine if it’s bully oregon bad.”
Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell performed Hall’s opus “Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken)” erstwhile Hall was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame successful 2019.
“The simplest words that told the astir analyzable stories. Felt similar Tom T. conscionable caught the songs arsenic they floated by, but I cognize helium carved them retired of rock,” Isbell tweeted connected Friday.
Hall, the 4th lad of an ordained minister, was calved adjacent Olive Hill, Kentucky, successful a log compartment built by his grandfather. He started playing guitar astatine property 4 and wrote his archetypal opus by the clip helium was 9.
Hall began playing successful a bluegrass band, but erstwhile that didn’t enactment retired helium started moving arsenic a disc jockey successful Morehead, Kentucky. He joined the U.S. Army successful 1957 for 4 years including an duty successful Germany. He turned to penning erstwhile helium got backmost stateside and was discovered by Nashville steadfast Jimmy Key.
Hall settled successful Nashville successful 1964 and archetypal established himself arsenic a songwriter making $50 a week. He wrote songs for Jimmy C. Newman, Dave Dudley and Johnny Wright, but helium had truthful galore songs that helium began signaling them himself. The mediate archetypal “T” was added erstwhile helium got his signaling declaration to marque the sanction catchier.
His breakthrough was penning “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” a 1968 planetary deed astir small-town hypocrisy recorded by Jeannie C. Riley. The opus astir a parent telling a radical of busybodies to caput their ain concern was witty and feisty and became a No. 1 state and popular hit. It sold millions of copies and Riley won a Grammy for champion pistillate state vocal show and an grant for azygous of the twelvemonth from the Country Music Association. The communicative was truthful fashionable it adjacent spawned a movie of the aforesaid sanction and a tv series.
“Suddenly, it was the speech of the country,” Hall told The Associated Press successful 1986. “It became a drawback phrase. You’d flip the vigor dial and perceive it 4 oregon 5 times successful 10 minutes. It was the astir awesome clip of my life; I caused each this stir.”
His ain vocation took disconnected aft that opus and helium had a drawstring of hits with “Ballad of Forty Dollars” (which besides was recorded by Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings); his archetypal vocation No. 1 deed “A Week successful a Country Jail,” and “Homecoming,” successful the precocious 1960s.
Throughout the ’70s, Hall became 1 of Nashville’s biggest singer-songwriters, with aggregate deed songs including, “I Love,” “Country Is,” “I Care,” “I Like Beer,” and “Faster Horses (The Cowboy and The Poet.)” He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame successful 1978.
“Tom T. Hall’s masterworks alteration successful plot, code and tempo, but they are bound by his ceaseless and unyielding empathy for the triumphs and losses of others,” said Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, successful a statement. “He wrote without judgement oregon anger, offering a rhyming journalism of the bosom that sets his compositions isolated from immoderate different writer.
He besides penned songs for children connected his records “Songs of Fox Hollow (for Children of All Ages)” successful 1974 and “Country Songs for Kids,” successful 1988. He besides became an author, penning a publication astir songwriting, “The Songwriter’s Handbook,” and an autobiography, “The Storyteller’s Nashville,” arsenic good arsenic fabrication novels.
He was big of the syndicated TV amusement “Pop Goes the Country” from 1980 to 1983 and adjacent dabbled successful politics. Hall was adjacent to erstwhile President Jimmy Carter and Carter’s brother, Billy, erstwhile Carter was successful the White House. Tennessee Democrats urged Hall to tally for politician successful 1982, but helium declined.
For his 1985 medium “Songs successful a Seashell,” helium spent six months walking up and down Southern beaches to get inspiration for the summertime temper of the LP.
He was inducted successful the Country Music Hall of Fame successful 2008 and successful 2012, helium was honored arsenic the BMI Icon of the year, with artists specified arsenic the Avett Brothers, bluegrass stars Daily & Vincent, Toby Keith and Justin Townes Earle paying tribute to the songwriting legend.
“I deliberation a opus is conscionable a song,” Hall said astatine the ceremonial successful 2012. “They tin bash it with each kinds of antithetic bands. It’s conscionable a lyric and a melody. I was talking to Kris Kristofferson 1 time. They asked him what was country, and helium said, ‘If it sounds country, it’s country.’ So that’s my philosophy.”
He joined English-born songwriter Dixie Deen successful 1968, and the 2 would spell connected to constitute hundreds of bluegrass songs aft Hall retired from performing successful the 1990s, including “All That’s Left” which Miranda Lambert covered connected her 2014 album, “Platinum.” Dixie Hall died successful 2015.
In 2015, euphony fable Bob Dylan singled retired Hall for immoderate harsh disapproval successful a rambling code astatine a MusiCares event. He called Hall’s song, “I Love,” “a small overcooked,” and said that the accomplishment of Kristofferson successful Nashville “blew ol’ Tom T. Hall’s satellite apart.”
The disapproval seemingly confused Hall, arsenic helium considered Kristofferson a person and a peer, and erstwhile asked astir Dylan’s comments successful an 2016 nonfiction for “American Songwriter” magazine, helium responded, “What the hellhole was each that about?”