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ELLN April Music Quick Pick

Each month, I highlight an album as part of the ACC’s Employment and Labor Law Network’s outreach and engagement, and just to give you something non-legal related to enjoy every month.  I hope you join us on our Forums and at today’s monthly teleconference where we will discuss Building a More Empathetic Workplace. If you’re an in-house counsel and not part of the ACC or the ELLN, you can join ACC and ELLN today and see what we’re all about!  I hope to (virtually) see you soon.

ELLN April Music Quick Pick

Former ELLN Chair Doug Hass has long been a music buff (he founded country music site Roughstock.com in 1993) and had plenty of windshield time for work over the years. That’s given him lots of time to indulge and explore his music interests! To help entertain you on your commutes or at the gym, office, home, or on the go, Doug is offering another year-long series of picks that will showcase some of the best albums you may have never heard, or that deserve another listen. We hope that each monthly choice piques your interest in these albums and artists. These may be titles that you have never heard of, but our hope is that your interest will be piqued and your musical world enriched!

Tom T. Hall – Storyteller, Poet, Philosopher (1995)
  Amazon Music – Apple Music – Spotify — Pandora

In February, we looked at one of my favorite storytelling songwriters: Shel Silverstein and his work with Bobby Bare.  This month, I wanted to return to another country music storyteller par excellence: Tom T. Hall (the “T.” doesn’t stand for anything; Hall has no middle name).  Like Silverstein, Hall is a fabulous lyricist, author, and poet. You probably know at least some of Hall’s biggest hits as a songwriter: Jeannie C. Riley had a #1 hit on both the pop and country charts with “Harper Valley PTA” in 1968, and Alan Jackson took “Little Bitty” to #1 in 1996. Bobby Bare, among others, recorded “That’s How I Got To Memphis.” The Statler Brothers first found mainstream success with 1966’s “Flowers on the Wall,” but if you flip that record over, you’ll find Hall’s “Billy Christian” on the B-side.  His late wife, Dixie (Miss Dixie) had over 500 songs of her own recorded, including the Dave Dudley’s hit song, “Truck Drivin’ Son-of-a-Gun,” where Tom wrote “I Got Lost,” on the B-side.

Hall spent the late 60s and 70s as a pitchman for Chevy Trucks and writing hit after hit for himself, including crossover hit “I Love” (which was remade/destroyed in the 90s into a hideously cringeworthy Coors Light ad that later played a role in Pete Coors’ failed 2004 Senate campaign), (Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine, which was written after the 1972 Democratic National Convention where Hall played a gig, and more.  “I Love” is not included in this month’s collection, though you will find the latter kicking off the set.  I am usually reticent about picking “greatest hits”-style collections, both because they usually reflect a record label’s desire to sell records and not an artist’s vision and because box sets used to be really expensive!  With streaming options, the latter is not a big issue anymore, and this collection is an exception to the former rule. 

This 50-song collection showcases Hall’s immense talent as a songwriter that grabs you with detailed vignettes: sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes both, but always listenable.  Ballad of Forty Dollars opens with the line “The man who preached the funeral said it really was a simple way to die.” You can’t hear that line and not want to hear what happens next!  Other standouts include my personal favorite “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” about his neighbor and childhood hero Lonnie Easterly, I Like Beer (well, I do!), Faster Horses, A Week In A Country Jail, and Margie’s At The Lincoln Park Inn.  These and so many others come to life with a master songwriter’s humility and care in telling stories.  Enjoy!

Can’t get enough? Further Listening:

If you don’t go the box set route, I’ll give you two further listening options: an early album and Hall’s last, bluegrass album that wills show you how things started and where he ended up.

Tom T. Hall, In Search of a Song (1970) (via Spotify)
Tom T. Hall, Tom T. Hall Sings Miss Dixie and Tom T. (2007) (via Apple Music)

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