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Hall served two terms in Congress and cites among his proudest accomplishments during his time in office his helping to pass the Affordable Care Act, the Veterans Disability Benefits Claims Information Modernization Act, and a bill that streamlines PTSD care for vets—the latter a law that he personally lobbied President Obama to sign. He consistently voted to enforce limits on CO2 emissions; provide tax incentives for companies using renewable energy; invest in homegrown biofuel; criminalize oil cartels; and remove oil and gas exploration subsidies and other related causes. "When John was running for reelection, he told me about the fight over oil rights to the Arctic Circle if the ice sheets melted," says Dar Williams, another Hudson Valley musician-activist. "I think that particular body politic really tested him. But I know he brought more light into the Capitol building than it tried to take from him."
Hall lost to Nan Hayworth during the Republican wave of 2010 and now, like many of us watching the current, highly divisive presidential election from the sidelines, he's shaking his head. "Journalism has become entertainment," he admonishes. "Individuals really owe it to themselves—and their country—to not get their news from only one source." After some soul searching, Hall decided not to seek a rematch with Hayworth in 2010. He wanted to, yes, spend more time with his family—and get back to rocking. And despite some health scares—prostate cancer and an aortic aneurysm, both successfully treated—that's just what he's been doing, largely with the revamped Orleans.
"There've been times when I've been out at the supermarket and 'Still the One' or 'Dance with Me' has come over the store speakers and the people next to me, without paying attention or even knowing it's me on the song, just started singing along," says Hall. "For me, that's still a thrill."
Still the One: A Rock 'n' Roll Journey to Congress and Back is out now. Johnhallmusic.com.