'I Love Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow'

Aug 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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Interview With Tom T. Hall

How did Peter and Eric present this project to you? Did you know the producers beforehand?
Peter’s an old friend and one of my favorite writers. I studied American literature and some journalism, and I was disappointed [in music journalism] when I got to Nashville. People were well-intentioned, but they couldn’t write about country music in those days. But of late, Peter showed up in Nashville and we became good pals. Of course, he’s a picker and a singer and a songwriter, too.

And he started visiting Miss Dixie, as we affectionately call her—visiting us here on our farm—and one day, he said, “I want to re-record the Songs of Fox Hollow album. I’d never heard of anybody recording an album that was recorded, I guess, 37 years ago. It put me in mind of the Wyatt Earp Gunfight at the OK Corral: It lasted two-and-a-half minutes, but they’ve made 37 major movies out of it! I said, "This is a first; I don’t think anybody’s ever redone an entire album.” But of course we said yes, they could do it in the studio we have out here.

My understanding is that you record mostly bluegrass music in your studio.
We’re retired, and we’re patrons of bluegrass and acoustic music. We don’t have any drums or amps; we’re not wired for loud music, but we help out. We have a studio and we don’t charge these young kids that come along or anything; it’s giving back to the music.

What was your impression of the musicians who played on the Fox Hollow remake?
I was so tremendously impressed with them because none of them had a posse or an agent or an attitude or an ego. They just sleep on one another’s couches and get up every morning and play music all day and all night, and that’s all they care anything about. They didn’t have any costumes. No makeup people.

The other thing that impressed me was, not one of them asked me what I thought of anything; they just played the song and ignored what I had done with it and just went for the song. Of course, Peter was very careful to pick people who had some affection for my music. He wanted to make sure they appreciated what I’d done with my life.

They were all a little bit into Tom T. Hall and knew what I’ve done, and some of them had been singing some of my songs on the road. Patti Griffin was doing a song on the road called “I Flew Over Our House Last Night.” And, of course, Buddy Miller’s famous for doing “[That’s] How I Got to Memphis” and sort of made it a standard.

They were all here for three days, and they all came out for the whole three days and watched each other work. They didn’t just come in one at a time. They came in like a whole tour group, and we had food and drinks and coffee and lemonade and ice tea and stuff like that. They just started picking and singing these songs, and I was fascinated by them all because of who they were and the attitude they didn’t have.

I befriended some of them who I didn’t know well. I got to know Jim Lauderdale. When he gets out in public, he gets a little hyper and I do, too, and I said, “We’re the only two guys in the room who can thread a sewing machine while it’s still running, you know?” I love being around him because he’s such an enthusiastic, positive, multitalented person. He can do almost any kind of music.

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