(The sources of Mr. Hall’s quotes are referenced at the end of this article.)
“I’d find the young men in the far off places of the world/I’d bring them home to see their fathers, mothers and their girl.” – “The World The Way I Want It” – 1968 Tom T. Hall song
”I was born in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains,” country songwriter, singer and musician Tom T. Hall once said, “and spent my whole life trying to get out of there.” But he achieved worldwide acclaim and success writing songs and singing about the people who lived there. Hall and his late wife Miss Dixie, a prolific bluegrass songwriter until her passing in 2015, will be inducted in the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame on September 22.
Hall was born on May 25, 1936 in Olive Hill, Kentucky. One of eight children, he grew up in a house with “a porch from which to view the dusty road and the promise of elsewhere beyond the hills – the birthplace of a dreamer.” His mother died of cancer when he was 13. Several years later when his father, a bricklayer and minister, was injured in a shooting accident, Hall dropped out of school to look after the family. Hall began playing guitar when he was four and was deeply influenced by a local musician who died at 22 of tuberculosis. The song he wrote about his musical mentor, “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,” later became a hit.
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Playing bluegrass with a neighbor’s traveling cinema led to a broadcasting stint with the Kentucky Travelers on a program on WMOR, Morehead, Kentucky. Hall broadcast regularly as part of the Kentucky Travelers. When the band broke up (members were drafted into the Korean War), he…