My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Tom T. Hall – ‘The Rhymer and Other Five and Dimers’

therhymerThis 1973 release, Hall’s eighth album for Mercury, is another collection of somewhat eclectic tunes that were all written by Hall himself, with the exception of the excellent Billy Joe Shaver number “Old Five and Dimers Like Me”, a song that many newer country fans will associate with Emmylou Harris. The Rhymer and Old Five and Dimers’ big commercial hit was “Ravishing Ruby”, a Tex-Mex sounding number complete with Mariachi horns. It was somewhat of a departure for Hall, sounding more like something Johnny Rodriguez or Marty Robbins might have recorded. Though it peaked at #3, it isn’t one of his better-remembered records today, perhapss because it was sandwiched in between bigger hits like “(Old Dogs, Children, And) Watermelon Wine” and “I Love”.

“Ravishing Ruby” was the only single released from this set, although all of the remaining ten cuts had hit potential. I particularly enjoyed “Don’t Forget The Coffee, Billy Joe”, a nostalgic look back at a happy but poverty-stricken childhood, and “I Flew Over Our House Last Night”, a bittersweet reflection on a broken relationship. The lighter-hearted “Spokane Motel Blues” finds Hall wishing he were anywhere other than a motel room in Washington State where he is holed up writing songs. My favorite number is the beautiful steel guitar-laced “Candy In The Window Of My Mind”.

In addition to the usual ballads, ditties and story songs, Hall includes a couple of social commentary songs: “Two Many Do-Goods”, which sounds like something out of Merle Haggard’s catalog and “The Man Who Hated Freckles”, a scathing number about the evils of racism, which manages to make its point without being too preachy.

The Rhymer and Old Five and Dimers is avaiilable on a 2-for-1 CD along with In Search Of A Song. Both albums are highly recommended.

Grade: A

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