Watermelon Wine

I remember the year that clayton delaney died

Paul, Tipper, and Steve

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. He finally got 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 because I’m a sucker for a sad song-a lover of the melancholy, but I’d rather think it’s because 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 or 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 Hall 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. 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.


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in July of 2009. It’s one of my favorites from the Blind Pig music archives.

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  • Reply
    August 28, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Our internets been down for over a week,,and still down,, finally today got to visit the Pig, (we’re on vacation).. I believe you cannot be from the country and not love Tom T Hall, He’s got a song or a story that will touch just about everyone at one time or another, my wife’s cousins banjo player for their Bluegrass band,, has recorded and played with Tom T.. really nice job on the song..

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    August 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Tom T. was a big favorite in our family. As I grow older I really like and appreciate the detail he uses in all his songs. In Watermelon Wine, he is pouring blended whiskey down. That is a different person and visual than single malt or small batch bourbon drinkers. Each line tells us something and paints a picture. Great tribute and singing of Tom. T. Hall’s song.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    August 25, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    I’ve always loved that song — being right fond of old dogs and children. Watermelon wine sounds nice but I’ve never seen any…

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    August 25, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Your picture reminds me a lot of our pictures when we were growing up. Momma would line us up at Easter or Christmas and no matter how hard she tried one of us was always not looking at the camera. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks for posting again Tom T. Hall’s “Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine.” I enjoyed it when you first posted back in 2009, and equally as well this go-around! Paul plays and sings so easily and soulfully. Give him a special thanks from me! I guess I’m just a nostalgic-type person; I like most everything that is a reminder–the sad and the happy! Life is a variegated fabric of both and we need a mix to keep us realistic and on target! Thanks to all the Blind Pig Gang–and especially to one wonderful Tipper Pressley–for helping us to stay tuned to these finer nuances of Appalachian life!

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    August 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    What a treat…..Paul has me smiling this morning. Thank you!

  • Reply
    August 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Being from Kentucky, I am of course a big Tom T. Hall fan! As usual, Paul does a great job on this song and any song he sings. I too am a big fan of Paul and the whole BP gang! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    August 25, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Tom T Hall is just about my favorite. I have most of his records and have added many cd’s. I even have a cookbook autographed by Tom and his wife.

  • Reply
    August 25, 2013 at 11:41 am

    It just doesn’t get any better than
    this! I love Paul’s singing, and I
    think he’s the BEST guitar man I
    ever heard. He just knows how to
    make one sound Good.
    And this Watermelon Song of Tom T.
    Hall’s, I have that thing in my
    favorites and watch the video of
    him often. He’s like another of my
    favorite singers, Jim Reeves…Ken

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    August 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Tipper:you are so right about everyone having a Clayton Delaney in their life. mine was my dad,born in proctor 1907. he inspired all that i am. he has been gone now 29 years. he taught me how to survive ,and how to prevail. how i miss him . blessing’s. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    August 25, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Beautiful song. Paul does an excellent job on this. I’ve always loved Tom T. Hall. It’s an honor for me to be able to listen to all of your family sing. It touches my heart so much..

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    August 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Always liked Tom T. Hall.Just read that he has retired. Paul did a great job!

  • Reply
    August 25, 2013 at 8:55 am

    That was a great song and Paul did it justice. Tom T. Hall wrote so many great songs. OLD DOGS, AND CHILDREN AND WATERMELON WINE is one. My Personal favorite by him was I LOVE. You know, “Little baby ducks, little fuzzy pups”. My Momma used to softly sing that song to my daughter when she was just a toddler. I’ve never forgotten that song or those two rocking in that chair.
    As for OLD DOGS AND CHILDREN AND WATERMELON WINE, those last two lines in that song are so well written to me they sound like something out of a Hemingway novel.
    “That night I dreamed in peaceful sleep of shady summertime,
    Of old dogs and children and watermelon wine.”
    Thanks Tipper and Paul.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    August 25, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I too am a fan of Tom T.,I think everyone has a Clayton Delaney in their lives if they will think back and though I’ve never tried Watermelon Wine who can deny that Old Dogs and Children hold a special place in their lives. Tom T. has an ability to point out the obvious that most of us are to busy to notice and many of us appreciate him prodding us into realizing the many small things which helped make us the people we are.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 25, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Paul certainly does do a fine job of that song. Memories are a funny thing, there is no accounting for what sticks and what doesn’t.

  • Reply
    Susan Cook
    August 25, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Oh my, bet Paul had to chase the girls away. Cool dude! And he sings and strums as well. Triple threat!
    Love Tom T, he’s comfort music to me. Course I love A J a whole lot too,

  • Reply
    August 25, 2013 at 8:02 am

    A great way to start my day! Thanks for a new song for my ears!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 25, 2013 at 7:34 am

    While I did not know the writers name I have always loved his songs. Paul as usual does a fantastic job!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    August 25, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Well Tipper, you finally touched on a mighty meaningful song and note with this Sunday morning read! I love the song, the vocalist, and your thoughts on losing a loved one were so meaningful. I still count each year since we lost our sweet Joey (Age 17 years and two days). This summer we had to cut down his last Christmas tree from 32 years ago. It was leaning and looking rough. But I will have another beautiful evergreen planted in it’s place this September.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 25, 2013 at 7:26 am

    This song is a splendid example of telling a tale in musical form–poignant, powerful, and chock full of simple wisdom.
    Paul’s rendition flows as smoothly as blended whiskey.
    Jim Casada

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