By Bob Weaver 2021

Tom T. Hall, America's most famous country music lyricists, has died at 85.

Hall came to Spencer WV in the early 1960s for a radio job at WSPZ, primarily as a disc jockey, but was granted a live 15 minute pickin' and singin' show every day at noon.

He used the show to explore his songwriting talents, singing in his storytelling voice (sometimes admitting he could never really sing). It would be fair to say he was under appreciated by listeners and the radio station manager, who would have preferred he just play records, canceling his life show.

Yet, he later developed his career as a storytelling recording artist with his down-to-earth words about common people. His songs have been recorded by a long list of county musicians and he had been inducted into numerous "halls of fame."

My dream of a career in radio had already faded because of starvation wages, with Tom T. being the new guy in town, hanging out with him at Earl's Pool Room (formerly the Shamrock).

Tom T., a really fine gentleman, was an advanced drinker of Black Label beer, me being a fledgling sipper, working on developing my life as a full-fledged alcoholic.

Tom T. got sobered up years ago. I did too.

The writer of hundreds of popular country tunes, once wrote a tune, "I Love Beer."

"I like beer, it makes me a jolly good fellow
I like beer, it helps me unwind and sometimes it makes me feel mellow
Whiskey's too rough, champagne costs too much, vodka puts my mouth in gear
This little refrain should help me explain, as a matter of fact I like beer."

I had gone to work at the Sinnett Funeral Home to make a buck, later to become a licensed mortician, one of several life careers.

Tom T. stopped by, frustrated and depressed over the station managers under appreciation of his talent, saying "I'm going to leave this damn town and go to Nashville."

I responsibly advised him that such a move would be a bad idea, my dad always saying one should never quit a job unless you have another lined up.

Years later, I've told a number of people, if I ever give advice, please don't listen to me.

I gathered up a few bucks, along with others, to help him buy gasoline for the journey to Nashville.

The rest is history.

Months after his death, officials ruled that he died by suicide.