Vince Matthews and Jim Casey, ‘Bessie, That’s a Lie’ [Exclusive Premiere]
The Kingston Springs Suite was recorded in 1972, with Kris Kristofferson, Shel Silverstein, “Cowboy” Jack Clement and Johnny Cash all involved with the project — but it was never released. However, after being shelved for 40-plus years, the album finally has a debut date, and The Boot is exclusively premiering one of the record’s songs, “Bessie, That’s a Lie.”
In the early ’70s, outlaw songwriters Vince Matthews (now deceased) and Jim Casey joined together to write The Kingston Springs Suite, which chronicles Matthews’ adopted hometown of Kingston Springs, Tenn. — a town that boasts a population of 510. The record paints a picture of the town’s life and lore, blending a front-porch feel, traditional country and outlaw resonance.
Cash championed the project, providing his studio and engineer and penning the liner notes. Silverstein, along with Cash, Kristofferson and Clement, produced the record, which became the talk of the outlaw underground — until it was shelved for four decades.
“Bessie, That’s a Lie,” the record’s eighth track, centers around the titular Bessie, who is leaving Kingston Springs, and an older (we presume) narrator warning her to stay. The song features Casey’s singing, although much of the album has Matthews on vocals.
“Vince had part of this song for a long time. It was one of the reasons we saw so much promise in telling the story of Kingston Springs,” Casey tells The Boot. “As songwriters, we had ‘been there,’ and all our warnings about the real world were really useless. Bessie had to do what she was going to do.”
The tune’s second verse includes the lines, “I lost one friend to New York City, and he ain’t never been found / One night he called, sounding funny, saying, ‘Help, I am snowbound!'” which Casey explains were inspired by his real-life friend, Sandy Bull, a talented songwriter with a well-known heroin addiction.
“[It’s also] a reference to Hoyt Axton’s “Snow Blind Friend,”” Casey adds, “which was recorded by Gordon Lightfoot at the same session where he cut Vince and Shel’s song “On Susan’s Floor” in 1972.”
The Kingston Springs Suite will be released on May 19 on Delmore Recordings and will be commemorated at an event at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville on June 6. It is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Listen to Vince Matthews and Jim Casey, “Bessie, That’s a Lie”: