The Story Behind the Song – The Last Suit You Wear

The Last Suit You Wear - Larry SparksThe Last Suit You Wear, written by Larry Williams, Larry Shell and Kim Williams, was recorded by Larry Sparks in the Fall of 2006 and released on the album of the same name on the McCoury Music label (MCM 0004), produced by Don Rigsby.

The song was one of IBMA’s (International Bluegrass Music Association’s) 2007 nominees for the Song of the Year award.

Of the three songwriters, sadly, only Larry Shell is still alive …

Larry Shell“At least twice a year, I make the trip from Nashville to Clinch Mountain just past Bean Station in East Tennessee to write songs and visit with my dear friend Kim Williams. It’s always been much more than just the writing, Kim and I share several other interests as well and the conversation is always lively and invigorating for me.

On one of my retreats, Kim informed that his brother Larry Williams wanted to write a song with us. I was very pleased to hear this news, because Larry was a very clever and witty man who was very well read and much fun to be around. So Larry came in with this idea that just floored me and I knew immediately I wanted to help write this song. Larry was dating a lady at the time whose father worked at the local funeral home.

Well, over supper one night the old gentleman spoke up and said, ‘Larry you know those suits we dress those dead men in have no pockets.’ Larry didn’t say anything but just nodded his head to acknowledge the old man’s comment. Later that evening on his drive back to Clinch Mountain Larry came up with the title for our song.”

Larry Sparks remembers how he became aware of the song …..

“It was pitched to me from some Nashville writers. Anyway I get many songs sent to me and sometimes one will get my attention. This one did. Very true and a real to life story. There is a few banker Moores still out there that has no heart for people. Just money is what they want. Some has made a fortune and they become greedy but they can’t take anything with them when they go. How true this is but sad.”

Producer Don Rigsby recalls …

“I always solicit songs from writers whenever I can and I look for things tailored for singers. This is a case of a song being perfect for a singer. Larry had wanted to record with piano and I asked the great Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins to grace us with his presence. To me, Larry’s guitar and Pig’s piano perfectly complement each other. Randy Kohrs, Stuart Duncan and Larry D. Sparks round out the ensemble. I am honored to sing harmony with Larry on what I consider a classic and one of his best recordings. The last suit we wear truly won’t need pockets. We can’t take it with us when we go and Larry made it clear in his performance.”

The Last Suit You Wear

Larry Williams
Larry Shell
Kim Williams

© 2003 Kelly Neil Music/Ann Wilson Music (BMI)
A Toad in Cowboy Clothes Music (BMI)
Triple Cross Music/Sony Cross Keys (ASCAP)

Banker Moore’s plane went down just three miles south of town
On a forty acre farm he’d foreclosed on
I can hear him saying now “money’s what it’s all about”
Now I can safely say now he’s dead wrong


The last suit you wear won’t need no pockets
You can’t take it with you when you go
When that hand full of dirt goes back into the earth
What you’ll be worth only heaven knows

You know he always said “you gotta dress for success”
And he wore the very best that money could buy
He made a fortune in his time, now he leaves it all behind
They oughta write this on the stone there where he lies

Repeat Chorus

Unfortunately, Larry and Kim Williams have now passed away since helping to write this song. Sad but, as Larry Shell has said, “It’s ironic that two of the writers on the song have worn the last suit”.

This feature is dedicated to the memory of Larry and Kim Williams …..

Share this:

About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.