Legendary country singer Tom T. Hall dies At 85


One of a kind  

His singing and songwriting career reached commercial heights in the 1970s, as Hall eventually topped country airplay charts a dozen times and penned more than two dozen songs that reached the top 10.


He used simple words to weave smart stories that approached subjects without bias. Hall built musical statues of local pickers (“The Year That Clayton Delaney Died”) and observed small-town grief with a light touch (“Ballad of Forty Dollars”). 

In a few lines, he described what “Country Is” — setting a scene of whippoorwills and walkin’ in the moonlight  — years before it became a benchmark for Music Row radio hits. 

And he crossed into all-genre success with “I Love,” an endearing list of what warms one’s heart — from leaves in the wind to slow movin’ trains. The chorus ends, of course, with Hall singing, “And I love you, too.”

“Irony of ironies, it’s been my biggest money-making song,” Hall told CMT in 2005. “It’s just three chords, and it’s only two minutes long. For some reason, I walked into a great melody. It sounds almost like what Mozart would have done or Chopin. I got really lucky on that melody, and it’s been used for a lot of different things.” 

But no song may be more beloved than “That’s How I Got To Memphis,” a country standard made famous by Bobby Bare. 

He sings: “I know if you’d seen her you’d tell me ’cause you are my friend
I’ve got to find her and find out the trouble she’s in
If you tell me that she’s not here
I’ll follow the trail of her tears
That’s how I got to Memphis
That’s how I got to Memphis.” 

“Tom T. is one of a kind,” Bare told the Tennessean in 2008. “He tells stories about people and has the uncanny ability to capture the spirit of the people he’s writing about.” 

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