Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The real Mark Hall

Having a common name has been, for the most part, a source of amusement for me most of my life. "Like the card company, only backwards" is what I used to tell people to help them remember "Mark Hall." The main problem has not been so much getting people to remember it, it's keeping them from mistaking me for all the other Mark Halls of the world.

When I was a kid, there was a guy next door a few years older than me who shared my name. My family found it very entertaining to put me on the phone when one of his teenage girlfriends called.

There's a character in Michael Crichton's book Andromeda Strain (made into an excellent film) with my exact name, including middle. That was cool, though I think I would have liked the film anyway.

In high school I found out there was another guy there with my name when I was called to the office (for a good thing) and he showed up too.

After college I was doing missions in Hawaii and applied for a missions assignment (same place, longer term) and used a Cleveland, TN, youth pastor as a reference without notifying him (I had worked at his youth camp). My Hawaii supervisor got a call from the Mission Board to check some very contradictory information that the youth pastor, I had been married and divorced twice, for example. Took a while to sort that one out.

Over the years I've discovered there are several musical Mark Halls; one played for Vigilantes of Love out of Athens, GA (a roommate from there knew him) played in a Celtic Christian band named The Crossing...and the son of one of the pioneers in the Muscle Shoals scene wrote a song for Tim McGraw ("I Like It, I Love It"). And of course, for those who follow contemporary Christian music, the songwriter and lead singer of the very successful Casting Crowns has put me in the role of "not that Mark Hall". I've ushered a couple of Dove Awards nights where his/my/our name was announced. It was almost like a Dickensian vision of what could have been, had I reached that level of success (in worldly terms). At least he's done right by the name. And I've made the joke more than once that if I get any of his royalty checks by mistake, it's too bad for him.

Now one of my multitudinous namesakes is a county commissioner in my hometown of Cleveland; more amusement for family and friends there. I've never found out whether any of the ones I knew of there were the same person. I'd say chances are good that's the case...but given my experience I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

This is why when I moved to Nashville to join the teeming community of songwriters, where name recognition is very important, I decided it was a good idea to include my middle name, in print or online, to help avoid confusion. Except for people who don't read very carefully (or something) and call me "Kelly." You just can't win.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,

I'm the accordion-playing Mark Hall who played for Vigilantes of Love in Athens, GA (1990-91).

FYI: I abandoned saying, "like the card company, only backwards" many years ago after someone introduced me at a conference as "the founder of HallMark cards" - for real!! It still makes me shudder to this day .... Just so you know, no one's ever mistaken me for you.

Also, who was the roommate you mentioned who knew me?


Natick, MA

Mark Kelly Hall said...

Cool to hear from you! Never been mistaken for me...that's funny! Hey, I can think of worse companies to be associated with--not ALL their cards are cheesy and anti-artistic...quite a few, though, so I see your point.

The roommate was Bud Hamilton. He shared my apt. when he was studying for one of his many degrees at the U. of Tenn. in Chattanooga. I believe I met you at his wedding (?); I videotaped it (and learned to be careful not to hit any "Off"...when adjusting angles...during the vows...but he and Patty forgave me. He'd be thrilled to see his name in pixels--maybe he'll Google himself and find this...speaking of which, is that how YOU found this post? : )