…is the route that Tom T. Hall presumably had in mind when writing the classic song,“That’s How I Got to Memphis.” Also responsible for “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and many more songs, he was born today in 1936.
Singer songwriter Thomas Hall aka Tom T. Hall was born in a log cabin at Tick Ridge, near Olive Hill, Kentucky, USA. First picking up a guitar aged 4, Tom spent much of his childhood playing and singing country songs learned from listening to the radio.
Losing his mother to cancer when aged 13, Hall left school two years later and found employment in a factory, becoming the family breadwinner following his father’s incapacitation in an accident.
Playing with a bluegrass band (The Kentucky Travelers) Tom made numerous radio appearances and worked as a DJ before joining the US Army in 1957 for three years.
Returning to DJing, Hall’s break came when a music publishing company employed him as a staff songwriter in 1962. His first success was “DJ For a Day” - a country top 10 hit for Jimmy C. Newman in 1963 and Tom relocated to Nashville in 1964.
Hall’s efforts would hog the charts over the following years, providing hits for artists including Dave Dudley, Johnny Wright and The Statler Brothers. However it was his song, “Harper Valley P.T.A.” that gave Jeannie C. Riley a mega pop hit in 1968 – and considerably raised Hall’s profile.
A solo deal saw him record his own work – and add the T to his name – penning standards such as “Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine”, ”Old Five And Dimers Like Me” and “That’s How I Got To Memphis.” His varied output also includes novelty, satirical and children’s songs.
In typically self-effacing style, the man once dubbed the ‘Country Poet Laureate’ has always sought to demystify his ‘art’, once commenting that, “You don’t have to make such a fuss about a song. Just write it, sing it and wish yourself a lot of luck.”
Check out and purchase Tom T. Hall CDs from our e-shop, Propermusic.com by clicking on the logo below:
And here’s some footage of Tom in action: