In Memoriam: Tom T. Hall (1936-2021)

Country Music Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall has passed away at the age of 85.

The Tennessean reports:

A consummate country songwriter who captured life’s intimate details with lighthearted songs such as “I Like Beer,” penned the classic “That’s How I Got To Memphis” and showcased era-defining sharpness with “Harper Valley PTA,” Hall entered the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008, alongside Emmylou Harris, The Statler Brothers and Ernest Stoneman.

He joined Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver in bringing a class of storytelling to country music unlike those before them. Hall timelessly and empathetically chronicled human spirit — from barstool stories to cemetery caretakers — with tales that would influence generations of wordsmiths to follow.

His songbook of country hits includes “(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine,” “A Week in a Country Jail,” “I Love” … and the list goes on.

Many knew him as “The Storyteller,” a fitting nickname gifted to Hall by another country great — Tex Ritter.

“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, said in a statement Friday. “He wrote without [judgement] or anger, offering a rhyming journalism of the heart that sets his compositions apart from any other writer.”

Tom T. Hall ranked at #25 on our list of 100 Greatest Men back in 2014.

Share your favorite Tom T. Hall songs and performances in the comments.


  1. Easily the one country artist who simultaneously felt like a close friend, a lover, a trusted co-worker, a good neighbour, and a special uncle.

    What a songwriting talent. I always also thought his singing was so conversational and unforced, natural and comfortable

    His passing has stunned me. What a loss. Ships go out, eh?

    I hope he is laid down with local flowers.

  2. My favorites are probably Homecoming, Faster Horses and How I Got To Memphis. For a fun song, I also like Who’s Gonna Feed Them Hogs.

    As a fan of cover songs, I recommend “Real: The Tom T Hall Project”. I’m not sure how easy it is to find these days but it had some great covers of his songs by mostly Americana-type artists.

  3. Although not a compelling vocalist, his warm & folksy style served him well – all of his recordings rang with truth and sincerity, often coupled with wry humor. Naming a favorite Tom t Hall song is difficult since I love nearly all of them. Among my favorites would be “Ballad of Forty Dollars”, “Pinto the Wonder Horse Is Dead”, “Ain’t Got The Time”, “The Monkey Who Became President” “Homecoming”, “Faster Horses”, “Song of the South”, “Ain’t No country Music On this Jukebox” and “How I Got To Memphis”


  4. And let’s also remember the hot baloney, eggs, and gravy he had while spending “A Week In A Country Jail” back in the winter of 1969-70 (LOL).

    In all good seriousness, yes, another great one leaves us, leaving the country music landscape just a little bit more barren than it already was.

  5. This is a deep loss for country music. We’re lucky for the songs that he’s left behind. I was unknowingly introduced to Tom T. Hall a few years before I even understood what country music was. His “I Love” was not only in a Chevy truck commercial, but it was also in my music book in 4th grade and I remember that it was one of the songs that we regularly sang. So, I was delighted to learn years later that he was a revered songwriter/artist and for very good reason! RIP to another incomparable legend.

  6. So sad to hear we’ve lost yet another one of country music’s legends. :( I’ve always liked his easygoing style and his brand of humor in some of his songs. Like Leeann, “I Love” was also my introduction to Tom T. Hall. My parents had this compilation album from the 70’s called Country Superstars in their record collection, and that was one of the songs featured on it. We recorded it on to one of my tapes in early 1991, and “I Love” was always one of my favorite songs I’d always like to go back to whenever I listened to that tape. Even as a kid, that song about enjoying life’s simple pleasures and just enjoying life in general always appealed to me. I’ve always loved the song’s pretty melody, as well, and Tom T. Hall’s natural charm and laid back voice was such a perfect fit. Even today, that’s still one of my favorite songs of his.

    I actually just heard “(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine” on the music choice Classic Country channel last night, which is also another one of my favorites. There’s also a song of his from 1979-1980ish I recently discovered that I really like called “The Old Side Of Town.”

    Also, I’ve always loved “That’s How I Got To Memphis,” especially Deryl Dodd’s version which was the first version I ever heard. I almost forgot that he wrote “Little Bitty,” as well, which is one of my favorites of Alan’s fun songs.

    RIP to another one of the genre’s all time greats. We’ve been losing way too many for these last several years. :(

  7. …not exactly an easy task to come up with a shortlist of tom t. hall essentials. since i rate “harper valley pta” as one of the top ten essential country songs of all time, i’d have to mention that one in the first place. however, “the lincoln park inn” is in essence of the same extraordinary quality (bobby bare made some wise pickings at the time). most enjoyable too, his casual way of expressing big feelings in “i love”. what a gifted storyteller with a great sense of humor he was. no doubt, right up there with the best in the business.

  8. I love his Alice songs: “Pay No Attention to Alice,” and “Dress and Shoes that Alice Wore.” “The Man Who Shot Himself.” George Strait should cover “Goodbye Cowgirl.” “Ships Go Out” “Bill Monroe for Breakfast.” “Grocery Truck.”

    Is there a Tom T. Hall song I actively dislike? I don’t think so. He acknowledges writing duds, but he was savvy enough to make sure those compositions never found their way on to an album.

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