Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine

Storyteller Tom T. Hall died yesterday. RIP. He was best known for the song “Harper Valley PTA” that captured the soul of the 1960s and has been kept alive by so many performers over the years. Still a hit every time.

In this introduction to “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine” he talks about performing at the contentious 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach. That ultimately disastrous event was also covered by Hunter S. Thompson in “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72”. This followed the earthshaking 1968 convention recently re-enacted for us in the movie “Trial of the Chicago 7” last year. I never heard Tom T. Hall perform live but heard many musicians express their admiration of his poise and style.

The recording is worth a listen.

How old do you think I am?” he said
I said, well, I didn’t know
He said, “I turned 65 about 11 months ago”


I was sittin’ in miami pourin’ blended whiskey down
When this old gray black gentleman was cleanin’ up the lounge

There wasn’t anyone around ‘cept this old man and me
The guy who ran the bar was watchin’ Ironsides on tv
Uninvited, he sat down and opened up his mind
On old dogs and children and watermelon wine

“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”

He said, “Women think about they-selves, when menfolk ain’t around
And friends are hard to find when they discover that you’re down”
He said, “I tried it all when I was young and in my natural prime
Now it’s old dogs and children and watermelon wine”

“Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes
God bless little children while they’re still too young to hate”
When he moved away I found my pen and copied down that line
‘Bout old dogs and children and watermelon wine

I had to catch a plane up to atlanta that next day
As I left for my room I saw him pickin’ up my change
That night I dreamed in peaceful sleep of shady summertime
Of old dogs and children and watermelon wine

This is perhaps the most famous performance of “Harper Valley PTA”: https://youtu.be/B4uJ8QV-8R8

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