Singer/songwriter Tom T. Hall was a staple on the country charts for more than two decades with 33 Top 20 hits. Hall scored his first No. 1 single in 1969 with “A Week in the Country Jail.” Of course, more chart-toppers followed, including 1972’s “(Old Dogs, Children And) Watermelon Wine,” 1974’s “I Care,” and 1975’s “Faster Horses (The Cowboy and the Poet),” among others.
Dubbed “The Storyteller” for his ability to spin a musical yarn, Tom T. Hall was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. Hall is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and the Grand Ole Opry.
In addition to his own success on the charts, Tom’s songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, George Jones, Buddy Miller, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Gram Parsons, and many more.
In honor of Hall’s 85th birthday on May 25, 2021, let’s take a look at three songs from The Storyteller that were big hits for other artists.
‘Harper Valley P.T.A.’
In July 1968, Jeannie C. Riley had to be talked into recording Tom T. Hall’s controversial “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” which took aim at a narrow-minded school district. However, the story of the brash young widow who stood up to the town’s hypocrites caught fire with the public and turned Jeannie C. into a household name. “Harper Valley P.T.A.” rocketed to No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. In addition, the tune won the CMA Award for Single of the Year in 1968.
‘That’s How I Got to Memphis’
Tom T. Hall recorded “That’s How I Got to Memphis” on his 1969 album, Ballad of Forty Dollars. That was just the start of the song’s journey. The tune has been covered by a who’s who of artists, including Bobby Bare, Deryl Dodd, Solomon Burke, Rosanne Cash, Eric Church, Bill Haley, Ronnie Dunn, Buddy Miller, and more. Bobby Bare’s version reached No. 3 in 1970.
Alan Jackson introduced Tom T. Hall’s penmanship to a new generation of fans when he recorded “Little Bitty” in 1996. Hall’s newly penned tune served as the lead single to Alan’s fifth studio album, Everything I Love. Before Alan recorded the up-tempo ditty, Tom T. had been out of the songwriting spotlight for about a decade. When the song hit the top of the charts for three weeks in 1996 and 1997, there was a Tom T. resurgence.