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Goodbye Kingston Springs: 500 Houses

vincentEditor’s Note: This is the final installment of “Goodbye Kingston Springs”. What happens now is that Jim Casey and Mark Linn hopefully continue to move forward with plans to finally release the “Kingston Springs Suite”, sometime this summer. We are glad that you have enjoyed this look back at Kingston Springs before the so many of us arrived! If you have stories or pictures from those days, Jim Casey and Mark Linn would love to see them!   You can contact Jim at: powerdiamond2@aol.com  You can contact Mark at: delmorerecordings@gmail.com

By Jim Casey

At that time, Jack [Clement] was planning a trip to Canada. Wanting to take a guitar, he realized he didn’t want to endanger his priceless J-200, so he asked Vince if he could borrow his old beat up Gibson acoustic, nicknamed “Miss Gibson”, knowing it wasn’t his own guitar in danger. At the last minute Jack decided to put Vince’s guitar in his own J-200 case, which made it immediately recognizable as a case and guitar of considerable value.

When Jack arrived in Canada, Jack’s J-200 case containing Vince’s cheap guitar was missing, and had been stolen going through the airlines and customs. With a feeling of considerable guilt, Jack lent Vince his invaluable pre-war Gibson J-200 guitar to make up for Vince’s, which was stolen. During the two years Vince had the guitar, it sustained a lot of wear and tear, including a quarter inch groove in the top, the result of Vince flailing away with his fingernails. You see, Vince was not a trained musician. Even with my continual coaching, Vince’s rhythm was never completely on the beat. His singing, especially during his “pill years” was awful at best.

I will never forget a guitar pull that our buddy, Rick Sanchez, had planned as a welcome for John Prine, in Nashville. The best and the brightest were assembled at this party, including Kris (Kristofferson) and Shel (Silverstein), Newberry, and about a dozen great songwriters. When the guitar passed around the room and finally came to Vince, Sanchez walked over and laughingly took the guitar from Vince’s hands and handed it to Prine. This action was in reference to Vince’s singing and playing, which could clear a room quicker than mustard gas. The hurt on Vince’s face, especially to me, was evident.

Many of these guys looked on Vince as just another pilled-up character. The truth was, he was a very talented and creative pilled-up character. The nervous twitch and constant sweat, were side effects of the L.A. Turnaround or Black Beauty (both amphetamines) that Vince had taken. The songs that Vince was writing were some of the best in town. In the next few years, several of these songs, including “This is My Year For Mexico”, “On Susan’s Floor”, and “Love In the Hot Afternoon”, would become big commercial cuts.

Unfortunately for Vince, his “devil may care” attitude, and his living for the moment, led him to take his royalty money, get a room at a fancy boarding house on West End, and spend every dollar of royalty until it was gone, finally selling the future revenue rights to his songs.

Later Vince suffered every time we spoke about pitching one of these songs, since he didn’t stand to get any money out of new cuts. At that time, a songwriter could also sell his future BMI revenue. That didn’t leave much between no *mechanical royalties and no *performance royalties.

Vince passed away on Saturday, November 22nd, 2003 at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville at the age of 63.

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God Save Kingston Springs
As a boy I had to roam
Left my old Jim Walters home
It was laid back in the hills of Tennessee
I made my way to L. A.
I regret it to this day
It’s about to wash away into the sea

Now I’m settin’ here on the floor
Got a padlock on my door
Got my shotgun ever ready by my knee
Hey, Jim Walter send the truck
Have the driver pick me up
Haul my bones home to good ol’ Tennessee

Bridge
Detroit is damned
Chicago’s gone
Cleveland baby, bye bye, so long
The L. A. freeway ain’t the way and it ain’t free
Oh, good lord can you find
In your heart to be kind
Can you spare Kingston Springs, Tennessee

Sodom and Gomorrah
Felt the heavens wrath before
When the lord sent down a burning rain
And today we hear the cry
There’s pollution in the sky
But there’s still a breath of air in Kingston Springs

Now, it just don’t seem to bother
The Kingston City Fathers
For a man to wear his hair long and strange­
They don’t care about your hair
If it’s long or if it’s there
They just care about your heart in Kingston Springs

Bridge
Detroit is damned
Chicago’s gone
Cleveland baby, bye bye, so long
The L. A. freeway ain’t the way and it ain’t free
Oh, good lord can you find
In your heart to be kind
Can you spare Kingston Springs, Tennessee

V. Matthews/ J. Casey

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