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"The Storyteller"

"This is Tom T. Hall", he said.
I think I'd have recognized the voice on the phone
even if he hadn't said his name.

I almost hadn't answered because I couldn't find the phone.
I don't keep my music room too neat.
(Once we returned from a tour and found the cops at our house.
They said our front door was open and my studio had been ransacked.
I told them: "No. That's just the way I usually keep it".)

Tom T. and I had talked a few times at parties, etc., around Nashville.
We had the same manager, and were on the same label,
but we didn't exactly "hang out".
In Nashville we were always too busy to really get to know each other.
I was surprised at the call.

He said he'd been reading a book of mine on a plane.
I asked where he'd gotten it. It wasn't exactly a best seller.
He told me somebody on the plane gave it to him.
I think he said Loretta Lynn.

The point of the call was:
He wanted me to write the liner notes for his upcoming album.

I said, "What do you want me to write?"
He said, "Just write that kind of stuff that you write.
That's what I want on there".

The album was "We All Got Together And…"
(Mercury SR61362.)
I'd never heard the songs,
and had no idea what the theme was.
The most popular songs from the LP were:
"Me and Jesus",
and "The Monkey That Became President".
I learned that later.

I worried about it for about ten minutes,
And then wrote the following:

WARNING:
DO NOT hold this album under the hot water faucet,
as the people living inside the record might pop out into living 3-D,
right there in your kitchen…
or even worse, your bathroom.
The crowd might be hard to explain to the landlord.

This same warning applies to any Tom T. Hall record
because of his secret recipe for canning REAL people
like you and me and Luther Short into plastic discs,
without losing the original flavor.

The characters in his songs act completely on their own,
sticking up their noses at Mr. Hall.
They couldn't care less if he is stuck without a romantic ending,
or an earthshaking moral.
They've got their own troubles,
and they work them out in their own way.
Thanks to the miracles of science,
we can eavesdrop in living stereo.

Heroes and beautiful people are the usual favorites of storytellers,
but Tom T. finds poetry in us ordinary hairy-legged mortals,
with our petty selfishness, hypocrisy, and intolerance…
our weaknesses, and our occasional goodness.

So, step inside.
You're likely to run into yourself somewhere in this record.
And, oh yeah, like I said at the beginning,
Keep this record dry,
and out of the reach of children.

And please keep Tom T. Hall's picture off the floor if you have pets.

Jack Blanchard

Copyright © November 30, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.

 

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