Rules Of Life No 1: never judge an
album by its liner photographs.
There’s a picture of Tom T Hall in
this package which shows him
standing in a library in a bow-tie,
big-toothed cheesy grin, tux and
smartly combed silvery hair.
“Republican fund-raising dinner”
may be your first thought. Listen to
the songs and you quickly realise
that not only is it probably Tom’s
own library, but that he’s almost
certainly read all of the books.
“Listen” is the operative word.
Put these twofers on in the
background and all you will hear is
fairly standard-issue Nashville
country music; well played, for
sure, but nothing revolutionary in
the instrumentation or
composition. Open your ears to the
words, however, and you can
immediately understand why Hall
was nicknamed “Storyteller”, for
these are tales of, from, and for
the many peoples of the USA. He
does politics (The Monkey That
Became President), death (Turn It
On…) and random encounters (Old
Dogs, Children & Watermelon
Wine). He even does She Gave Her
Heart To Jethro, a song in the
same vein as Kenny Rodgers’ Ruby
Don’t Take Your Love To Town, but
without the wince factor. In short,
a somewhat overlooked genius.