Friday, January 1, 2016

Tom T. Hall

It was 45 years ago today, January 1, 1971, that Tom T. Hall first became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I have always enjoyed Tom T., and his talents as a songwriter. He now considers himself retired and has not performed on the Opry in a number of years. I still thought it was appropriate to remember this member of the Opry and of the Country Music Hall of Fame. I could not find a clip of Tom T. performing on the Opry, but I did find this from five years ago, when he performed at the Loveless Cafe as part of the Music City Roots series.



  1. While I think there's a lot more to the story, I'll say this: T said he wasn't going to show up, and he didn't and hasn't (I've also wondered if he was at Jimmy C. Newman's funeral). Compare that with hypocrites--not to name names, but I'll start with Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley--who say they love the Opry and then don't do a thing.

    But let's cherish those we DO have and say, Happy New Year to Byron and the Fayfarers.

  2. Fred, Bismarck:

    Tom T. is one of the great ones, in the true storytelling country tradition. I underappreciated him for a long time, in his heyday, for his lack of country instrumentation, which I'm sure was at the insistence of his producers.

    So my favorite Tom T. recordings are those for RCA, after his biggest hitmaking days were done, when he finally added fiddles and steel for such as "Back When Gas Was Thirty Cents a Gallon," "The Old Side of Town" and "Whiskey Castles."

  3. In response to Fred's comment about Tom T. Hall's lack of country instrumentation (which I thought as well) I found this video clip featuring him that uses the classic Country Instrumentation, which appears to be filmed at the Opry house:

    I'm one of the younger commentors and don't know the whole story of why Tom T. Hall left the Opry for good, but it makes me wonder if maybe he had a feeling that older members like him would end up being tossed aside to rarely appear, and end up being replaced by younger, not very country guest artists in the future.

  4. Just discovered that Jimmy C Newman recorded Tom T’s song, “DJ for A Day,” back in 1963. (This was Hall’s first big songwriting break) Jimmy was an important mentor to Tom T, telling the future Country Music Hall of Famer that “success is like a bird: If you hold it too tight, you'll kill it. If you don't hold it tight enough, it'll fly away."
    Information from the Tennessean newspaper, June 22, 2014

    Frank Apperson

    1. Frank, when Jimmy C. sold the publishing company, he bought his 600-plus acre ranch, and T gave him an old and very valuable saddle. So they were close to each other. I don't know if they stayed close.

  5. Tom T Hall's history with the Opry is interesting. His induction date is listed as January 1, 1971, which was a Friday. His first appearance on the Saturday Grand Ole Opry was January 8, 1971. He was an Opry member until March 1974, when he and his friend Bobby Bare quit the Opry when it moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the new Grand Ole Opry House. While Bobby would not rejoin the Opry, Tom T. did come back as a member in March 1980. According to Tom T, he ran into Ernest Tubb in the Opry parking lot on night and Ernest told Tom T he needed to come back to the Opry, which he did. From the mid 1980s into the very early 1990s, Tom T averaged around 20 appearances per year. 1992 was his last Opry appearance and he has not been back since. He has given no real reason or explanation, other than to say that he was never going back. While he now considers himself retired, he will occasionally make appearances, usually in the Nashville area.