Legendary country singer Tom T. Hall dies At 85


‘Do it your way’ 

Hall wouldn’t reserve his words for only song; he published fiction and non-fiction books.


In 1979, he wrote of the self-described “hairy-legged town” in “The Storyteller’s Nashville”; his novels include “The Laughing Man of Woodmont Cove,” “The Acts of Life,” and “Spring Hill, Tennessee.” 

He stepped away from recording for a decade in the late 1980s and early ’90s, returning in 1996 to release his album “Songs from Sopchoppy.” In turn, “Sopchoppy” helped return Hall to country charts as a songwriter that year, when neotraditional star Alan Jackson cut his song “Little Bitty.”


In the 21st century, Hall focused on shepherding bluegrass music with his late wife, Iris “Miss Dixie” Lawrence Hall. 

As Hall wrote, recorded and occasionally performed the music synonymous with his  home state, what he once called “retirement” wouldn’t stick. 

Or, as he said at the 2010 Country Radio Seminar in Nashville:  “People say breaking into the business is hard. You ought to try to break out of it sometime.” 

Hall and Dixie Hall released a bluegrass album, “Tom T. Hall Sings Miss Dixie and Tom T.,” in 2007. Hall gave his final public performance in 2011, and in 2018 — three years after Dixie Hall died — they entered the Bluegrass Hall of Fame as a couple. 


“In bluegrass, you’re pretty much selling these things door-to-door,” Hall told The Tennessean in 2007. “I always thought if I had to go back to selling anything door to door that it would be vacuum cleaners, ’cause they’re easier to sell and you don’t have to autograph ’em.” 

Before Hall died, he received his share of lifetime honors in Nashville and beyond, including a membership into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979, a Country Music Hall of Fame induction in 2008, a BMI Icon Award in 2012 and Songwriters Hall of Fame invitation in 2019. 

And country music faithful may recognize him most recently for being featured prominently in Ken Burns’ 16-hour 2019 PBS documentary, “Country Music.” 

But he’ll be most remembered for the songs that continue to feel lived-in for years to come. 


“Art moves this way,” he said in 2010, pointing forward. “If you’re doing it the way they used to do it, that’s copying. It’s already been done. … Do it your way, and have some fun.” 

4 of 4Next
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse