Happier Days in 1964 Vince Matthews in my First Apartment writing a song.
I can’t remember how I meet Vince Matthews,
someone introduced us. He was with his girlfriend Diana and they had a sleeping
room in Woodbine at Mark Dinning’s mother’s house. Mark was the one hit
wonder boy who recorded ‘Teen Angel’ in 1960. Diana worked at a bar to
support them and many an evening I would walk over and Vince and I would fortify
ourselves with bourbon and bennies and write songs or talk about the condition
of the world.
Vince had lived in Chicago where he meet Diana and
moved to Nashville become a songwriter in I believe 1963. Ms. Dinning kicked
them out after all the loud parties we had and they moved over to somewhere on
the west end on South 17th St.
Diana left Vince and moved back to Chicago. After a
few months of mostly living on the streets and after Vince and I had made a demo
tape of the songs we wrote at JW Grower’s recording Studio, that was rejected
by anyone who we could get to listen to them, Vince became discouraged and moved
back to Chicago.
A few months later with two cartons of Alpine
Cigarettes and a bottle of amphetamines I took the midnight train from Nashville
to Chicago to join him. Vince was living on the streets staying here and there
but I had an address of his close friend Red, I took the cab to Red’s and his
very shocked mother firmly told in her broken English that Red was not in and I
should return later that afternoon. Well I had been up all night need a shave
and bath but the bars were just opening so I had Boilermaker and then felt human
again. After I left the bar I struck up a conversion with this young lady and
somehow talked her into letting me come up to her place (actually her folks
place) and take a bath and shave.
Later that afternoon I hooked with Red who took me
to Old Town where Vince was hanging out and we spend the last of my money
drinking a few beers. We would stay up most of the night and before daylight
crash in Lincoln Park or sleep on someone’s couch.
I meet lots of bohemians including Nelson Algren (author Man with a
Golden Arm) who wrote me PS on
one of Vince’s letters saying ‘Chicago reminds my of Paris in the 30’s’
After a couple of weeks or so and unable to either get or hold a job Red
left sorry for me and give me bus fair to return to Nashville.
About 6 months later Vince returned to Nashville
who he had
married. Melva was a great person;
at one time she held two jobs supporting Vince. She always treated his friends
with great respect. From time to
time Paul Fahle would stay with them, which really shows the generosity of both
Vince and Melva. Vince and Don Vinson had written ‘Hobo and the Rose’ before
Vince moved to Chicago and after Vince returned Webb Pierce
it so it became the first Vince Matthews song recorded.
Vince introduced me to Kris Kristofferson one evening at the Tally Ho
where Vince would meet lots of music people. Vince and Melva had several
apartments on the West End. I
am sure I help get them kicked out of two or three apartments when Vince and I
would stay up all night long drinking, singing and arguing about the real
meaning in Bob Dylan’s latest songs. Vince
and Melva moved to Kingston Spring and I remember visiting them one day when
Vince was rushing to get a poem that John Cash and written back to him that
would become the liner notes for Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan. I was becoming
aware of the condition of the world with the war in Vietnam and the civil rights
struggle and we drifted apart. I last spoke to Vince in when he was recording
his album. A couple of years ago I tried to find him by calling all the V.
Matthews in the state of Tennessee, but I couldn’t find him.
So again I bid an old friend goodbye.
So many memories come flooding back. I wish we could find Paul and Marcia. I wonder where Melva is now? Those days seem so long ago yet only yesterday. I guess some of my best memories are from those days. Wonder where Don Vincent is now?
I wish I had copies of all of Vince's songs. Do you have any? Some I had forgotten about. Some I can hear as clear as the night he sang them. He sure was one of a kind and should have been recognized more than he was. I think he was just so far ahead of most people that he never stopped long enough for most folks to catch up with him. That's such a shame. It's also a shame that not more people knew him. He was so intense!
I remember when he tracked me down after I had the girls. He and Fred showed up at the house one night when mom was living with me. Two songwriters and only on guitar. It never could get any better than that. Two singers and only one guitar was a show all it's own! "Listen to this one." Well, I got that one beat!" "But did I ever sing this one for you?" You know the show! Mom was in hog heaven listening to them. I just enjoyed being with friends. I think we saw the sun come up. Mom even found a jug of home made wine someone gave her. I think it was just this side of being vinegar but no one noticed or cared!
Our senses hold so many memories. Crisp fall days where you can smell the leaves crunch under footI think of West End and your old apartment building. Walking from the bus when I skipped school, the sun would be hot on my back. I could smell the leaves under my feet with each footstep. I was always in such a hurry, afraid you would leave for Vince’s without me. I was always so eager to see what book you had for me and to listen to the newest songs you or Vince had written since I had been there last. I felt so grownup back then because I wasn’t treated like a child by anyone in the group. I felt like a sponge soaking up every bit of knowledge I could get from you, Vince, Don and even Paul. Those were the innocent years for everyone!
Do you remember that
night I brought George over because he was the only one that had a car?
Vince filled his George’s lighter too much and it leaked out in his
pocket and blistered George's leg. George
whispered something to Vince and they both went into the bathroom where I guess
George showed him the blisters. I
have no idea where Vince came up with the idea of telling George he had an
incurable disease and would probable be dead not long after Christmas. This was
just before Thanksgiving. Paul
jumped in and said he had seen the same disease in the hospital and yep, there
was not cure. You went on to tell him the only decent thing he could do was
to sell his body to science at Vandy and help save everyone else in his family
from dying the same terrible death he was going to die from.
George, not being too bright, but remember he had a car,
never thought it would take years of research on his body to find that
cure that would save his family, was ready to do it.
That first wink from Vince let me know what was going on.
Poor George didn’t know what hit him!
There he was, 4 against one.me being part of the 4.
I think we all lighten up when George started crying.
I guess if it hadn’t been for that you guys would have had him over at
Vandy the next day selling his body so we all could have party money for the
I remember the smell of Vince. He wore 'That Man'. I never had known a man to wear cologne. To this day I can smell it and see Vince. That was his smell and will always be his smell.
So many memories
come floating back. They truly were
the good old days. Sometimes I’m
not really sure how we got from there to here. It’s been a long trip. I wonder when and how time becomes
‘The Good Old Days’. Is it just a state of mind that is polished and shiny
in our memory because we visit it more than other times? I love the sound of
‘The Good Old Days’ Are they
the years of our youth? Is that
what makes them ‘The Good Old Days’? When
Mickey Newberry died I had my ‘The Good Old Days’ memories when Vince and I
used to go out to visit him when he had his boat at Rock Harbor.
They were ‘The Good Old
Days’ too. Memories make us so
rich. Without them, where would we
be today? We go back and visit and
feel years lifted. They are our escape.