Toby Keith, Chris Young, More Pay Tribute To Country Legend And BMI Icon Tom T. Hall

Tom T. Hall

Tom T. Hall (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for BMI)

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Back in 1964, Tom T. Hall was just another writer new to Nashville with a fresh face and a briefcase full of songs. Like so many others, his days were spent working to get his music heard by the right people and, ultimately, recorded and released.

Fast-forward five decades later to this past Tuesday evening, and the Kentucky native found himself being honored with the BMI Icon Award, which only further cements his reputation as one of the finest singers and songwriters ever to grace Music City.

number of honors were handed out to deserving artists at this year’s BMI Awards, but it’s Tom T. who earned the most attention. On top of receiving the Icon Award, he was honored with an all-star tribute, with artists such as Toby Keith, Justin Townes Earle, bluegrass duo Dailey & Vincent, and the Avett Brothers performing a set of some of his best-known songs.

Artists also tweeted out their congrats and respects to Tom T. all day long.

If you haven’t spent much time with Tom T.’s catalog, you have some superb listening ahead. His songs have the casual feel of an afternoon chat at the corner drugstore, or a late-night story told over coffee or something stronger (bourbon has shown up more than once in Hall’s songs). You meet a lot of people in Tom T.’s songs–hog farmers, coal miners, wounded vets, a husband who’s slipping around (in the magnificent song “Margie’s at the Lincoln Park Inn”), and even the occasional suburban housewife (“Harper Valley P.T.A.”).

You also get to know Tom himself, in songs like “Trip To Hyden” (about a coal-mine accident) and “I’m Forty Now.” He titled one of his albums I Witness Life, and it’s as good a phrase as any to sum up his approach.

As an Icon Award recipient, Hall is honored for his songwriting. And as he himself explained on the red carpet, he’s in “pretty good company.” Though he did have a few “complaints” about today’s country crop. As he explained, country artists today are “too talented” and “too good looking,” but “other than that I love them. They’ve brought country music to a height I’ve never imagined.”

Previous Icon winners in country music include Billy Sherrill, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams, Jr., Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Bill Anderson.

- Kurt Wolff, CBS Local