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May 24

“Harper Valley PTA,” The Song’s True Origin According to Tom T. Hall

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“Harper Valley PTA” became Jeannie C. Riley‘s most well-known single in her entire career. It pushed her into the spotlight and earned her her first number one song on the country and pop chart. However, it wasn’t only Riley who became famous because of the song. The songwriter Tom T. Hall made his name because of it too.

tom t. hall Harper valley PTA
Tom T. Hall/ Photo from imasportsphile.com

“Harper Valley PTA” Story

Hall shared the story behind his most successful song. “Harper Valley PTA” was based on a true story in Hall’s life. When he wrote the song, he changed the name of the people involved in it to protect them. The inspiration of Hall came to him when he was nine years old. He heard the story of the woman (similar to the song) who stood up for herself because people judged her by the way she is. Hall told the Boot that he got to know the woman too.

“I was just hanging around downtown when I was about nine years old and heard the story and got to know this lady. I was fascinated by her grit. To see this very insignificant, socially disenfranchised lady — a single mother — who was willing to march down to the local aristocracy read them the riot act, so to speak, was fascinating.”

This real life-based single brought Hall’s career to life. However, before reaching the top of the charts, the song was offered to various artists before it was recorded by Riley.

Tom T. Hall ‘The Storyteller’

Hall is known as the ‘Storyteller.’ This was based on his ability to create something wonderful and relatable. Furthermore, Hall not only wrote songs but also novels and short stories. He also hosted a show known as Pop! Goes the Country. He wrote a total of twelve songs that reached number one. There were seven songs he personally recorded that scored the number one spot on the country chart.

The storyteller’s talent will always be a source of inspiration to many artists who wanted to create incredible songs.


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harper valley pta, Jeannie C Riley, tom t hall


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