Words To Go and Miles To Ponder Solomon John Hall, One Of A Kind
Sometimes, a tall tale is nothing but the truth and for Solomon John Hall, there’s a lot of truth in that. He lived in a house he built himself, right outside of Chiefland Florida and if you ever went by to say hello you had better plan on staying a few hours. He would give a stranger the shirt of his back and had years of wisdom about everything from cabbage palms to amplifiers. He loved the woods and loved life and it was truly an honor to have known him as well I did.
He had decades of stories to tell to anyone who would listen. He was asked to the Grand Ole Opry to play with Billy Grammer and String Bean to a packed house in 1969. Mr. Grammer was a well known country artist who had a little big hit by the name of ‘Gotta Travel On.’ He played bluegrass, singing and picking his six-string Gibson electric guitar…which by the way he played with just his left hand. When S.J. was only 6 years old he was electrocuted and lost his entire right arm. Tragic though it was, he made it to 79 years old and could stretch a tale into an hour long epic. He was road worn and weary, talked fast, and could do ‘Beer Barrel Polka,’ ‘Walk Across Texas’ and ‘Sweet Jesus’…with the best of them. His guitar playing was pure and sweet. With nothing short of a gift from above he could pick out a melody that filled out a sound any backing band would be proud to play behind. Not to mention a voice that’s pure molasses and could make the top 25 on any country list. He’s seen a lot and done a lot in his time and name drops Opry players like they were second cousins…tucked into his stories of Bill Grammer he'd tell you about encounters with the likes of Skeeter Davis, Bobby Lord, and the Fruit Jar Drinkers. If at first you might think he’s pulling your leg,if you just kept listening to his yarns and you'd figure out the fabric is real. Then again, he was an admitted ‘hog thief’…and may have stolen the truck he hauled them in. He interrupted every conversation after nearly every sentence by saying, “You don’t believe me, do ya?'” Sure, I believe ya’ S.J….just let’s get on with your story. With a twinkle in his eye, he would continue on and ramble and spin a story you just aren’t sure was the truth or not. Then again, by the time he was done…or at least wound down to take a breath…you’d be convinced that no man could make this stuff up. Not one to ever stand on ceremony, at the same time ole S.J. was about the most courteous and respectful fellow you’d ever want to meet. He was a pure showman, snake oil salesman, working class hero, musician and raconteur…he was truly an original character. If only we had a few more one of a kind gentlemen like S.J., we’d all be telling tall tales…and every one of them true. Please share your memories and stories of SJ.