Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine


My earliest memory of Tom T. Hall-is his classic song The Year That Clayton Delaney Died. My older brother, Steve, had a triple record set of country hits-which he forbid me and Paul to touch. But as soon as he left for work we’d grab the tunes and listen to the country greats of the day.

Tom T. Hall is called The Story Teller for the moving songs he writes about slices of real life. He was born in 1936 (one year before Pap) in Olive Hill Kentucky. After serving in the Army-Hall was a radio announcer as well as a performer-finally getting his big break in 1963 when one of his songs was recorded by a country artist, Jimmy C. Newman. After moving to Nashville, Hall went on to record hit songs-as well as write songs for many of the greats like-Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, George Jones and more recently-Alan Jackson. I was surprised to learn he also wrote Harper Valley PTA-a favorite song of my elementary school days.

Maybe Hall’s songs move me-cause I’m a sucker for a sad song-a lover of the melancholy-but I’d rather think it’s cause they tell a story common to all our lives. In my favorite Hall song-The Year That Clayton Delaney Died-a man who influenced Hall’s youth died a hard death-and it stuck with him through the years. I’m sure we could all think back to our youth and find one death that stands out above the rest-maybe a family member or schoolmate-maybe a young reckless boy who lived down the road.

Old dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine is another of Hall’s songs. Have you ever made a connection with a stranger that stayed with you? A clerk at a store who offered a tidbit of wisdom or someone sitting in a hospital waiting room who shared their story?

The song details a run in with an airport lounge worker. Even though Hall isn’t much interested in talking-the old man strikes up a conversation with Hall as he straightens the room. As he sits there and listens, the old gentleman imparts his wisdom about life-he sums it up to old dogs, children, and watermelon wine being the only things worth a solitary dime.

Paul has sung the song for years-I remember him sitting on the couch singing it when we still lived with Granny and Pap. But since he videoed it for the Blind Pig-I’ve listened to it anew as Pap would say. I’m listening to it with older ears now. Older ears that realize for some folks life is so rough they do indeed narrow it down to a small list of things that are worth living for-and sadly faith-family-and love just don’t make the list.

For this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot-Paul goes solo on Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine.

Hope you’ll leave me a comment about the song.


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  • Reply
    July 28, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Found your blog this morning, while searching for the words to this old song. Glad to know another fan of Tom T. Hall. Love his songs.
    I posted an entry today about the song and included a link to your site.

  • Reply
    July 22, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I grew up on country music and loved this song. But definitely older ears now. I’m sure I didn’t know/understand half the words when I listened to it as a kid.
    I wonder if my younger brother stole my things when I wasn’t around!

  • Reply
    Amy - parkcitygirl
    July 16, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Beautiful post all the way around Tipper!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Tom T and Miss Dixie write amazing songs, and every one tells a story. I love story songs, and enjoy the Hall’s writing. In recent years, they have assisted many bluegrass artists, contributing songs, and time in their recording studio. ( )
    Several years ago, Tom T. and Miss Dixie announced that they were leaving their song catalog to the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA).
    We recently heard Jerry Butler (of Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road) sing “Daddy’s Girl” and new song from the Halls written for Jerry about Jerry and Tami’s daughter, Sami. A wonderful song, as are all of Tom T’s.
    My favorite of his more recent catalog is “Bill Monroe for Breakfast”, a cool song I first heard Gary Brewer sing.
    Interestingly, the BMI Repertoire ( )database contains 800+ songs by Tom T and nearly 300 by Miss Dixie. Wow!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Hey Tipper, Paul did a fine job on that song! I remember Tom T Hall….we had him on an 8 track tape…a long time ago!
    He wasn’t a singer and song writer, he was a bard and a poet, speaking of life and times. His was the voice that could see very deeply into the very soul of this life we live.
    It is your wisdom that lets you hear with another ear and see with another eye. You have such good strong beliefs and values. That’s what wisdom is made of, you know. Faith, Family, and Love…and the greatest of these is love.
    I love you, Tipper!

  • Reply
    Farm Chick Paula
    July 13, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I love Tom T Hall too, Tipper… every time I hear one of his songs, it takes me back to my childhood. Paul did a great job on the song!
    I had to chuckle at you saying you were a sucker for a sad song… remember the John Conlee song “Rose Colored Glasses”? My Mom would cry every time that came on the radio. Funny how you remember stuff like that!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Tom T. Hall sure has written a lot of beautiful ballads. Many of them are my favorites. I didn’t realize he had written for other artists as well, or if I did I had forgotten.
    Michelle loved the song, Sneaky Snake when she was young. He had a lot of great hits.
    Thanks for the interesting post.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Oh, what sweet memories- my Daddy absolutely loved to listen to Tom T. Hall- and “Old Dogs….” was one of his favorites.
    Every Saturday evening the t.v. was set and Daddy watched Flatt and Scruggs, and Porter Wagoner- and later, Ralph Emery. If we were in the car, the radio was set to clear channel 650- and the Grand Ol’ Opry. So many good memories attached to that music.
    Thanks for reminding me of those good days.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Interesting post Tipper, and you bring to mind that I listen often to music with one ear and then another. One ear hears the catchy tune and fun lyrics. Then the other ear listens to what the lyrics are really saying, whether the song writer meant to point it our or not. Life takes a totally different direction depending on the foundation you build it on that is for sure.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I grew up in Nashville, and Tom T was an intergral part of the music scene then.
    Fun post~

  • Reply
    July 11, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I grew up listening to Tom T. Hall also. Love him and love Paul’s version. I didn’t know he wrote Harper Valley PTA, but now that I think about it, it sure does sound like him.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2009 at 11:20 am

    The stranger connection happens all the time. I think it’s a choice.
    Thanks for this post. I enjoyed the listening and the reading.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Tipper, you got some good guitar picking men- and you do good too. You’re all very talented.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2009 at 10:55 am

    I remember seeing Tom T. Hall on the Mike Douglas show when I was a kid. A gifted musician and he seemed to be a very kind and humble person too.
    Beautiful job Paul!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2009 at 7:10 am

    You know I love the story tellers. And Tom T. Hall is one of the greats.
    Loved hearing Paul sing one of his songs.
    You know, I don’t have any Tom T. Hall music. I need to go out and find some. I’ll bet Boo would love him too.

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    July 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Awesome singing on the video! I love that song! Some of the best country is the really old stuff.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I love to hear Paul play and sing. Thank you for sharing that with us. I never realized that Tom T. Hall was born in Olive Hill, Kentucky. My grandmother and grandfather lived near there.
    Blessings, Annie

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    July 10, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Paul did a great job on this song by Tom T. Hall who has been a favorite of mine for many years. This song is one that touches my heart.
    Thanks for sharing it.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Tom is my favorite of all time!!
    His songs tell us that we can “think”,we
    are not sheepeople.The simple life he sang
    about should show us how to live our lives
    in a day to day world!!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    More and more I listen the more I like all your music.

  • Reply
    Sallie C aka Cybergranny
    July 10, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Wow, I like that song…guess I am the same age as your Uncle Tom T. Hall. Amazing. I love mountain music…

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    July 10, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Tipper: That was a fun song and Paul did a great job.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    We have a Country Legends radio station here in the Columbus, Ohio area and I just heard that the other day. Paul does ole Tom T. proud!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Love it! Of course, he could sing “The ABC’s” and I’d like it. Interesting thought about older ears. I find that with so many things the small stuff doesn’t matter anymore.

  • Reply
    Matthew Burns
    July 10, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I absolutely love Tom T. Hall’s music. He is one of my all-time favorites. I probably have a tie of my favorite song of his, it is either “Homecoming” or “The Year Clayton Delaney Died”. Both songs are just so real that if you’d cut ’em, I’m sure they’d bleed.
    A little claim to fame here, on the album cover, “Live at The Grand Ol’ Opry”, by Tom T. Hall, you’ll see in the front row my wife Shirley, her Mama and her Daddy. I have reflected glory now that I’m married to Shirley!! By the way, she still loves Tom T. Hall, even after all these years.
    One of our friends is currently trying to teach us the guitar (I say trying to because whatever she tells me to do, I have to improvise it to suit me). Lucky for me, most (if not all) of Tom T.’s songs are only three chords!! We did introduce him to our friend, and we found the sheet music to Clayton Delaney online and she up and played the whole song, never having heard it before! Lucky Dog! She has since fell in love with him too, and currently works his stuff into her set when she performs around town.
    His songs just seem to have a timeless quality about them.
    Paul does a bang-up version of “Watermelon Wine”. My granddaddy used to sing this song when we’d be driving somewhere. It makes me think of him.
    Thanks for this post!

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    July 10, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful song by Hall. I love this tidbit of wisdom and relate to it waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s office. Hope you have a fantastic weekend. Maybe I’ll see you at the Festival on the Square in Hayesville this weekend or at the rodeo. Have a safe weekend.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Oh, my, Tipper. That’s one of my absolute favorite songs, just as Tom T. is one of my absolute favorite singer/songwriters. To this day, I never make it through that song without getting choked up! That and “The Homecoming” absolutely tear me up.
    On the flip side, he also did some really funny ones. “A Week in a Country Jail” and “I Like Beer” are prime examples.
    And my kids are all the time singing “Sneaky Snake.”

  • Reply
    July 10, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I love songs that tell a story. Tom T. Hall is one of the greats. Clayton Delany is in my list of songs to perform. I enjoyed Paul’s rendition. Pappy

  • Reply
    Valerie Boivin
    July 10, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Love it!! I could listen to him all day.

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