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October 9

The True-To-Life Story of Tom T. Hall’s “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine”

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In 1972, Tom T. Hall released the song “Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine” as the second and final single album, The Storyteller. It went on becoming Hall’s third No. 1 on the U.S. country singles chart and even earned him his second nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Country Song.

Indeed, “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine” is one of the best songs Tom T. Hall ever released, but did you know that the song was a true-to-life story word for word?

The True-To-Life Story Of The Song “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine”

Written by Tom T. Hall himself, “Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine” was based on an actual experience the country singer had while performing in a music festival in Miami Beach in 1972. 

“I wrote this song in 1972, during the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. There was a park across the street from the convention center called Flamingo Park. They hired me, and George Jones and Tammy Wynette – this was when they were still together – and Ray Price to entertain. It was a daytime show that started late in the afternoon,” Hall recalled.

After the show, Hall went back to his hotel. The place was tranquil because everyone was at the Democratic National Convention elsewhere in town. He headed for the lounge and found an old gray-haired black gentleman “who was going on polishing tables and kinda sweeping up.” He initiated a conversation with Hall and “talked about philosophy and everything.”

 “The rest of it,” Hall said, “is in the song.”

“‘ Ever had a drink of watermelon wine?’ he asked. He told me all about it, though I didn’t answer back. ‘Ain’t but three things in this world that’s worth a solitary dime, but old dogs and children and watermelon wine,'” the song goes.

The next morning, Hall wrote the lyrics “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine” on an airsickness bag on his return flight to Tennessee. He had a recording session in Nashville already scheduled. 

He walked in with the song written. He didn’t even have a melody finished for it, but that was completed right on the spot. Ever since then, the song has been recorded by several notable artists such as Frankie Laine, George Burns, John Prine, among others. In 2014, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine” No. 93 in their list of the 100 greatest country songs.

Checkout below Tom T. Hall’s incredible performance of “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine.”


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