Gene Watson Features: Vincent Wesley Matthews (1940 – Saturday 22 November 2003): An Appreciation

Vincent Wesley Matthews
1940 – Saturday 22 November 2003

Vincent Wesley Matthews was born in Waverly, Tennessee in 1940; he left home after graduating from Waverly High School and headed to Chicago, Illinois where he attended art college and decided to pursue a career as a cartoonist.

Vincent Wesley Matthews returned to Tennessee, where he became one of a number of award-winning songwriters in Nashville; these songwriters included Kris Kristofferson, Shel Silverstein (Thursday 25 September 1930 – Monday 10 May 1999), Eddie Rabbitt (Thursday 27 November 1941 – Thursday 7 May 1998), Johnny Cash (Friday 26 February 1932 – Friday 12 September 2003), Harlan Howard (Thursday 8 September 1927 – Sunday 3 March 2002), Merle Kilgore (Thursday 9 August 1934 – Sunday 6 February 2005) and ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement (Sunday 5 April 1931 – Thursday 8 August 2013).

Vincent Wesley Matthews’ compositions found favour with a number of distinguished country music artists, including Johnny Cash (Friday 26 February 1932 – Friday 12 September 2003), Waylon Jennings (Tuesday 15 June 1937 – Wednesday 13 February 2002), and Gordon Lightfoot (Thursday 17 November 1938 – Sunday 1 May 2023), amongst others.

Vincent Wesley Matthews passed away on Saturday 22 November 2003 at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville.  Vincent Wesley Matthews was 63 years old and had been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer.

In the 1970s, Johnny Cash (Friday 26 February 1932 – Friday 12 September 2003) stated that he thought of Vincent Wesley Matthews as one of the greatest writers the country music business ever had and that he hoped Vincent would make it.

In the traditional Nashville sense, Vincent Wesley Matthews did not make it.

Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘On Susan’s Floor’ was recorded by¬†Gordon Lightfoot (Thursday 17 November 1938 – Sunday 1 May 2023) and Hank Williams Jr., Johnny Cash (Friday 26 February 1932 – Friday 12 September 2003) recorded ‘Wrinkled, Crinkled, Wadded Dollar Bill’, Waylon Jennings (Tuesday 15 June 1937 – Wednesday 13 February 2002) recorded several songs, Crystal Gayle, and Gene Watson, recorded ‘This Is My Year For Mexico’, and Gene Watson enjoyed a Billboard No.3 hit single in 1975 with ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon‘.

However, the financial proceeds from such successes never stayed in Vincent Wesley Matthews’ pockets for very long.

Vincent Wesley Matthews & Jim Casey: 'Kingston Springs Suite' (Delmore Recording Society, 2015)

In October 1972, Vincent Wesley Matthews recorded his one and only album, ‘Kingston Springs Suite’, with Jim Casey, at House of Cash Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee and Jack Clement Recording Studio B in Nashville.  Although Johnny Cash (Friday 26 February 1932 – Friday 12 September 2003), Kris Kristofferson and songwriter / poet Shel Silverstein (Thursday 25 September 1930 – Monday 10 May 1999) assisted them on the project, the album was never made commercially available.

Vincent Wesley Matthews & Jim Casey’s ‘Kingston Springs Suite’ was released by Delmore Recording Society in 2015, and included the following tracks:

‘Introduction’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘Laid Back Country Picker’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘Mr. Sam’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘Mr. Soul’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘Melva’s Wine’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘The Old Man & The Boy’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘I’m A Little Piece of Tin’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘Bessie, That’s A Lie’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘Franklin Lady’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘Floatin’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘Five Hundred Houses’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)
‘God Save Kingston Springs’ (written by Jim Casey and Vincent Wesley Matthews)

Vincent Wesley Matthews, however, was also a tragic figure, who fell through the cracks and he had a prodigious appetite for both alcohol and pills.

‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement (Sunday 5 April 1931 – Thursday 8 August 2013), the legendary Nashville producer, was the one who ended up publishing many of Vincent Wesley Matthews’ songs.

At the time of his death, on Saturday 22 November 2003, Vincent Wesley Matthews was living in the West Tennessee town of Waverly, making telephone calls for a mortgage company to earn extra money.  Few people who picked up his calls would have known about ‘Melva’s Wine’ or ‘On Susan’s Floor’, and few would connect the aging man to the young one who, fueled by song and spirits, was the rollicking life of some of Nashville’s most memorable parties.

Vincent Wesley Matthews left no survivors.

Elvis Presley (Tuesday 8 January 1935 – Tuesday 16 August 1977) and Vincent Wesley Matthews (1940 – Saturday 22 November 2003)

Webb Pierce (Monday 8 August 1921 – Sunday 24 February 1991) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Hobo & The Rose’ (co-written with Don Vinson) and included the track on ‘Sweet Memories’ (Decca Records, 1966).

Bobby Bare recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Somebody Bought My Old Hometown’, which was co-written with ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement (Sunday 5 April 1931 – Thursday 8 August 2013), and included the track on ‘A Bird Named Yesterday’ (RCA Records, 1967).

Charley Pride (Friday 18 March 1934 – Saturday 12 December 2020) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘One of These Days’ and included the track on ‘Songs of Pride…Charley That Is’ (RCA Records, 1968).

Nat Stuckey (Sunday 17 December 1933 – Wednesday 24 August 1988) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘She Just Wrote Me From Atlanta’ and included the track on ‘Nat Stuckey Sings’ (RCA Records, 1968).

‚ÄĘ Ann M. Stuckey submitted a ‘Peer’s Quote’ about Gene Watson on Saturday 25 January 2014

Hank Williams Jr.: 'Luke The Drifter Jr., Volume 2' (MGM Records / Polydor Records, 1969)

Hank Williams Jr. recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘These Men Who Never Sleep’ and included the track on ‘Luke The Drifter Jr., Volume 2’ (MGM Records / Polydor Records, 1969).

Johnny Cash (Friday 26 February 1932 – Friday 12 September 2003) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Wrinkled Crinkled Wadded Dollar Bill’ and included the track on ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash’ (Columbia Records, 1970).

Charley Pride (Friday 18 March 1934 – Saturday 12 December 2020) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘This Is My Year For Mexico’ and included the track on ’10th Album’ (RCA Records, 1970).

Johnny Cash (Friday 26 February 1932 – Friday 12 September 2003) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Melva’s Wine’ and included the track on ‘A Thing Called Love’ (Columbia Records, 1972).

Gordon Lightfoot (Thursday 17 November 1938 – Sunday 1 May 2023) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘On Susan’s Floor’, which was co-written with Shel Silverstein (Thursday 25 September 1930 – Monday 10 May 1999), and included the track on ‘Don Quixote’ (Reprise Records, 1972).

Jim Ed Brown (Sunday 1 April 1934 – Thursday 11 June 2015) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon’ (co-written with Kent Westberry) and included the track on ‘Evening’ (RCA Records, 1972).

Dickey Lee saw recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘On Susan’s Floor’, which was co-written with Shel Silverstein (Thursday 25 September 1930 – Monday 10 May 1999), and included the track on ‘Baby Bye Bye’ (RCA Victor Records, 1972).

In 1972, Waylon Jennings (Tuesday 15 June 1937 – Wednesday 13 February 2002) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Laid Back Country Picker’ (co-written with Jim Casey); Waylon’s album, ‘Lonesome, On’ry & Mean’ (RCA Records, 1973), was released in March 1973, but ‘Laid Back Country Picker’ was not included.

‘Laid Back Country Picker’ (written by Vincent Wesley Matthews and Jim Casey) was, however, included on Waylon Jennings’ ‘Lonesome, On’ry & Mean’ (RCA Records, 2003), when the album was re-released in 2003, complete with bonus tracks.

Sammi Smith (Thursday 5 August 1943 – Saturday 12 February 2005) recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘The Toast of ’45’ and included the track on ‘The Toast of ’45’ (Mega Records, 1973).

Dickey Lee recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘This Is My Year For Mexico’ and included the track on ‘Crying Over You’ (RCA Victor Records, 1973); the album featured The Gary Sanford Paxton (Thursday 18 May 1939 – Sunday 17 July 2016) Singers, Allen Reynolds and Don Williams (Saturday 27 May 1939 – Friday 8 September 2017) on background vocals.

Hank Williams Jr. recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘On Susan’s Floor’, which was co-written with Shel Silverstein (Thursday 25 September 1930 – Monday 10 May 1999), and included the track on ‘Hank Williams Jr. & Friends’ (MGM Records, 1975).

Gene Watson recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon’ (co-written with Kent Westberry) and included the track on ‘Love in the Hot Afternoon‘ (Capitol Records, 1975); the track reached No.3 on the Billboard country music singles chart in 1975.

Gene Watson recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘This Is My Year For Mexico’ and included the track on ‘Love in the Hot Afternoon‘ (Capitol Records, 1975).

Crystal Gayle recorded ‘This Is My Year For Mexico’ and included the track on ‘Crystal Gayle’ (United Artists Records, 1975).

Wendel Adkins: 'Sundowners' (Hitsville Records, 1977)

Wendel Adkins recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Laid Back Country Picker’ (co-written with Jim Casey) and included the track on ‘Sundowners’ (Hitsville Records, 1977).

Gene Watson re-recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon’ (co-written with Kent Westberry) and included the track on ‘The Good Ole Days‘ (Step One Records, 1996).

Mark Chesnutt recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon’ (co-written with Kent Westberry) and included the track on ‘Lost in The Feeling’ (MCA Records, 2000).

On Tuesday 3 December 2002, England’s Hux Records released Gene Watson‘s ‘Love in the Hot Afternoon‘ (Capitol Records, 1975), along with Gene Watson‘s ‘Paper Rosie‘ (Capitol Records, 1977), as a special 2-for-1 CD set.

Gene Watson¬†re-recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon’ (co-written with Kent Westberry) and included the track on ‘Best of the Best: 25 Greatest Hits‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2012).

Dale Ann Bradley: 'Dale Ann Bradley' (Pinecastle Records, 2017)

Dale Ann Bradley recorded Vincent Wesley Matthews’ ‘This Is My Year For Mexico’ and included the track on ‘Dale Ann Bradley’ (Pinecastle Records, 2017).

July 2012
A heartfelt word of thanks, from Sean Brady at Original Gene Watson Fan Site, to Don Boner at DL-Sites in Indianapolis for kindly granting permission to use the above information about Vincent Wesley Matthews (1940 – Saturday 22 November 2003) for this special feature.