Thursday, October 13, 2011

"The Year That Clayton Delaney Died" by Tom T. Hall

Tom T. Hall is one of the most prolific American songwriters of the late 20th Century. He wrote scores of songs, most of which were recorded by others. But, every now and again, there would be a song that was so personal to him, that he held it back for himself. "Clayton Delaney" was one of those. With it's straightforward lyrics, this song has been a favorite of mine for decades. In this clip, from You Tube, Tom Hall explains why, and how, he wrote the song. The story behind it is as beautiful as the song itself. Although there are better quality performances of this tune on You Tube, this one, with it's introduction by Tom T. Hall, is my favorite.

Here are the lyrics;

"The Year That Clayton Delaney Died"

I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died,
They said for the last two weeks that he suffered and cried.
It made a big impression on me, although I was a barefoot kid,
They said he got religion at the end and I'm glad that he did.

Clayton was the best guitar picker in our town,
I thought he was a hero and I used to follow Clayton around.
Clayton used to tell me, "Son you better put that old guitar away,
There ain't no money in it, it'll lead you to an early grave."

Well, Daddy said he drank a lot, but I could never understand,
I knew he used to pick up in Ohio with a five-piece band.
I often wondered why Clayton, who seemed so good to me,
Never took his guitar and made it down in Tenn-o-see.

I guess if I'd admit it, Clayton taught me how to drink booze,
I can see him half-stoned a-pickin' out the lovesick blues.
When Clayton died I made him a promise, I was gonna carry on somehow,
I'd give a hundred dollars if he could only see me now.

I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died,
Nobody ever knew it but I went out in the woods and I cried.
Well, I know there's a lotta big preachers that know a lot more than I do,
But it could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin' too.
Yeah, I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died.

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