Tom T Hall: Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine


I got to thinking about Tom T Hall and his great song, Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine. It contains some deeply thought out lines. Old dogs care about you even when you are down, God Bless the little children while they’re still too young to hate.

“There’s only three things in this world worth a solitary dime, Old dogs and children and watermelon wine.”

Really profound words inspired by an encounter by Tom T Hall in a motel bar with the guy who was cleaning up the lounge. When the guy walked away Tom T grabbed his pen and copied down that line about old dogs and children and watermelon wine. His final verse goes something like this. That night in peaceful dreams I dreamed of old dogs and children and watermelon wine.

Made me think if we maybe all cared about things like old dogs and children this world might be a much better place. Certainly a little watermelon wine couldn’t hurt the mix either. Tom T was a storyteller who could write songs that told stories like A Week In Another Town, about what happened to him while he was stopped at a stoplight in this little one horse and they arrested him for speeding. Or the Day Clayton Delaney Died about an old friend who taught him how to play the guitar.

Tom T. could really relate to the common man and most of his songs reflected that including perhaps the one song he wrote that he isn’t remembered for because he only recorded it one time and it was a huge hit by someone else and later was made into a movie starring Barbara Eden. Harper Valley PTA. Tom T wrote hard-edged songs in country music when country music wasn’t all that hard-edged. But he helped change the direction of country music and make it more current and relevant during a time when the world was often on fire and things were changing.

I don’t think he ever considered himself as a trailblazer but in his own quite way he was. He made a big splash in country music after first having his music rejected. He didn’t let that stop him and he kept to his music and eventually became a true pioneer in country music for his insightful and sometimes hard-edged songs. But he could also have a little fun like with his crowd pleaser I Like Beer. He also gave Johnny Rodriquez his start in country music when others wouldn’t give him a chance to show what he could do. But Tom T was different and he didn’t see the color of one’s skin as a hindrance to their abilities as to singing or anything else.

I have always considered that line of his about God Bless the little children while they’re still too young to hate as one of the most profoundly insightful lines ever written in a song. It is one of the things that made that song a huge hit for Tom T Hall and rightfully so.

We need more singer storytellers like Johnny Cash, Tom T Hall, John Denver, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and singers like them today. We don’t have a lot of those types around anymore. The music business probably wouldn’t even allow most of them into the fold because they wouldn’t be commercial enough for today. Their music came from the heart it was special because of just that. Now if it doesn’t jam you up against the wall with noise it don’t sell. I guess I’m getting old because I still love the words to the music as much as I love the music.

Like Fred Rose’s great song Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, Tom T’s Old Dogs and Children, Take Five, or T Texas Tyler’s Remember Me when the candlelight is gleaming, remember me at the close of a long, long day. It’d be so sweet when all alone I’m dreaming just to know you still remember me. I do T Texas and all the rest of them old great songs and singers.

Bob Bearden

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