The Story Behind Tom T. Hall ”The Year That Clayton Delaney Died”

Tom T. Hall
Tom T. Hall

If country music ever had a Mark Twain, it was probably Tom T. Hall. He is known as “The Storyteller” because his songs stand apart from most in the sense that they speak poetically of normal life and normal people. There is a direct, no-nonsense quality about his tunes, evident in their simplistic story lines. But while Hall’s compositions may appear that way upon first glance, they are actually built in layers, with each piece of fabric slowly revealing Hall’s own life experiences.

Tom’s interest in music began at a very early age and by his teenage years he had already formed a small string band, playing backwoods schoolhouses and small fairs. His band also performed on the local radio station, where Hall also took a job as a disc jockey and his daily show became quite popular in the area. Hall had begun writing songs by that time, but when he turned twenty-one he grew restless (as most young men that age do) and wanted to see the world. About the only way for a poor boy to manage that was to join the Army, which he did in 1957. By the end of his three-year hitch, he had been a lot of places and seen a lot of things, and many of those adventures would later end up in some of his songs.

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