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Tom T. Hall, The Storyteller of country music, dies at 85 – Tennessean

Tom T. Hall, a Country Music Hall of Fame artist who wrote unassuming songs with distinct depth, died Friday at age 85.

Hall died at his home in Franklin Tennessee, according to his son, Dean Hall.

A consummate country songwriter who captured life’s intimate details with lighthearted songs such as “I Like Beer,” penned the classic “That’s How I Got To Memphis” and showcased era-defining sharpness with “Harper Valley PTA,” Hall entered the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008, alongside Emmylou Harris, The Statler Brothers and Ernest Stoneman.

He joined Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver in bringing a class of storytelling to country music unlike those before them. Hall timelessly and empathetically chronicled the human spirit — from barstool stories to cemetery caretakers — with words that would influence generations of wordsmiths to follow.

His songbook of country hits includes “(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine,” “A Week in a Country Jail,” “I Love” … and the list goes on.

Tom T. Hall performs as part of the PolyGram/Mercury Records show during Fan Fair at the state fairgrounds June 9, 1987.

Many knew him as “The Storyteller,” a fitting nickname gifted to Hall by another country great — Tex Ritter.

“Tom T. Hall’s masterworks vary in plot, tone, and tempo, but they are bound by his ceaseless and unyielding empathy for the triumphs and losses of others,” Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame, said in a statement Friday. “He wrote without judgment or anger, offering a rhyming journalism of the heart that sets his compositions apart from any other writer. His songs meant the world to Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, George Jones and other greats, and those songs will continue to speak to generations.”

Hall was a Grand Ole Opry member since 1971, and the venerable radio program paid tribute to him late Friday.

“Thank you for all of the music, Tom T. Hall,” the Opry shared on social media. “We’ll miss you.”

This is a developing story. Return to Tennessean.com for more information.

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