It’s National Watermelon Day! In honor, today’s #songoftheday is ‘Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine’ by Tom T. Hall. It was inspired by a real-life experience Hall had in Miami after the Democratic National Convention (Batey, 2015).
Tom T. Hall began his music career as a disc jockey (Morris, 2020). He sent some of his songs to Nashville producers. One of these songs, ‘D.J. for a Day’ was recorded by Jimmy C. Newman, peaking at No. 9 on the country music charts. This helped persuade Hall to move to Nashville and pursue a songwriting career. ‘Ballad of Forty Dollars’ was recorded by Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. Alan Jackson released 'Little Bitty’ in October of 1996 and reached number one on both the Billboard country music charts and the Canada Country Tracks (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2020). Arguably, his most famous song was recorded by Jeannie C. Riley in 1968 – ‘Harper Valley P.T.A.’ which was also based on a real-world experience Hall had. With this song, Riley became the first woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Country Singles charts with the same song (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2021). He has been dubbed The Storyteller for his songs like ‘Harper Valley P.T.A.’ and ‘Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon’ that depict ordinary, everyday experiences.
‘Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon’ puts our narrator at an empty bar in Miami save the janitor and barkeep. The janitor pauses his cleaning to sit by the narrator and open “up his mind.” He tells our narrator
Ain’t but three things in this world that’s worth a solitary dime, but old dogs and children and watermelon wine.
My first dog turned 11 this year and I’m beginning to comprehend her mortality, so the line “old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes” brings tears to my eyes.
Hall was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2018. However, he was most proud of his 2019 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, saying it was the last notch in his pistol (Roland, 2019).
Photo credit: American Songwriter
Batey, A. (2015, March 31). Cult heroes: Tom T Hall, the singer who wrote of real lives and changing times. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2015/mar/31/cult-heroes-tom-t-hall-country-music-star-johnny-cash
Morris, E. (2020, May 25). Country Legends We Love: Tom T. Hall. Retrieved from Country Music Television: http://www.cmt.com/news/1821468/country-legends-we-love-tom-t-hall/
Roland, T. (2019, June 4). Tom T. Hall Talks Joining Songwriters Hall of Fame: 'It's the Last Notch in My Pistol'. Retrieved from Billboard: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/country/8514418/tom-t-hall-songwriters-hall-fame-interview
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2020, December 30). Little Bitty. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Bitty#Chart_positions
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2021, July 13). Harper Valley PTA. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harper_Valley_PTA