Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spokane Motel Blues, Part Two

Did Tom T. Hall sleep here? Maybe, Maybe not.

So whatever happened with my attempt to enlist the aid of local journalist Doug Clark to crowd-source the motel of origin for the classic Tom. T. Hall song, Spokane Motel Blues?

We failed to answer the question definitively, but came up with a strong hint that the motel in question was the downtown Holiday Inn (now the Quality Inn Downtown) at 110 East 4th Avenue. Maybe.

Clark summarizes his reader responses in this column: No clear inspiration for ‘Spokane Motel Blues.’ There were a lot of reader suggestions, including the Ridpath, the Davenport, and others. Clarked searched through the Spokesman newspaper files and came up empty handed. "A couple of depraved readers wanted to put Hall in a certain seedy motel that is known as a popular 'bed by the hour' for women of negotiable virtue," Clark wrote. Help an out-of-towner here, Doug, exactly which motel is that?

But the strongest suggestion came from reader Marion Anderson who worked at the Holiday Inn:

“I was a chef at the Holiday Inn downtown which is now a Quality Inn,” said the 81-year-old. “And I remember very distinctly that that’s where he wrote his song and that’s where he stayed because of the weather.” True, Anderson never actually laid eyes on Hall. But this was a year or two before Expo, she said, and “all the waitresses were talking about that’s where he was.”

Clark seems to doubt Anderson's story, but in the absence of any contradictory evidence I tend to believe her.

And Clark did more than just crowd-source my historical question. In our conversation he asked if I could use the Tom T. Hall song in the Spokane Historical smartphone app and I told him no, because of copyright. Clark is a musician and singer. "So on a lark, my buddy Joe Brasch and I decided to go into the studio and record our own rendition of it," Clark wrote.

So I guess that there will be a Spokane Historical stop about Tom T. Hall in Spokane, located at the Quality Inn. And the soundtrack will be this wonderful cover of the song by Doug Clark.

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