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Keeping Quiet

N ow that Tom T. Hall has retired from the music business, how does he spend his time? Making music, of course.

"My wife, Miss Dixie, and I built a recording studio out back of our house," Tom explains. "And I took a correspondence course on audio engineering out of Los Angeles. So I'm the resident engineer, and we've been writing bluegrass songs and hanging out with acoustic-music people."

The 66-year-old singer and songwriter known as "The Storyteller" says he prefers the quieter strains of bluegrass these days, because country music got a little too loud for him to enjoy it. "It almost got painfully loud there toward the end of my career," says Tom, whose 21 Top 10 hits - including such chart-toppers as "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died" and "I Love" - speak volumes about his popularity. "That's one of the reasons I came off the road, because I didn't have any music that could be played that loud."

Tom and his wife usually create music in the afternoon after spending the morning working on their 60-acre farm near Nashville. Tom also owns homes on Florida's St. George Island and in Virginia. "Being retired, we're at liberty to roam around and just have fun," he chuckles. "Hopefully, we won't outlive our money."

But while he still enjoys travel, a return to touring is out of the question. "Once in a while if I'm at a bluegrass festival, somebody might get me up to sing a song," he allows. "But I don't have a bus, I don't have a band, and no ambition or inclination to do that anymore.

"For 34 years I traveled up and down the road. I've seen everything you can see out the window of a bus, and it was all wonderful and charming and exciting - but I don't want to see it again."

While he might not be hitting the stage, Tom reports that he still has a standing offer from Mercury Records to release new music. "If I woke up one morning and said, 'Hey, I ought to record some songs,' I could do it," he says. "Just knowing that keeps me happy. But I haven't had that inspiration."

For now, Tom T. Hall says he's simply enjoying his freedom to relax without worrying about tomorrow.

"I'm having a good time," he says. "I've got some horses, a big garden and 60 acres. I've got fences and grass and a lot of stuff to keep me busy. I'm content and peaceful."

-- Nick Krewen