Marty Stuart A Survivor
Multiple instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Marty Stuart is a true survivor.
Born John Marty Stuart in Philadelphia on September 30, 1958, the singer made his first professional appearance at 13 with Carl and Pearl Butler.
Marty performed with gospel group The Sullivans at weekends and at age 14 made his Grand Ole Opry, the beginning of an eight-year stint with Lester Flatt and The Nashville Grass. When Flatt died in 1979 Stuart stayed in Nashville and worked sessions.
He also toured with Vassar Clements, Doc and Merle Watson and Bob Dylan before joining Johnny Cash's band in 1980.
Flatt inspired the Shel Silverstein tune "Rough On The Living," first cut by Bobby Bare and reprised by the Old Dogs.
Stuart became one of Cash's sons-in-law when he wed his daughter Cindy in 1983 - they both toured with Cash and Cowboy Jack Clement in 1981.
Marty toured with Cash for six years and Stuart released his debut solo disc Busy Bee Cafe in 1982.
Earlier Stuart recordings With A Little Help From My Friends from 1978 were re-released in 1992 as the Slim Richey Sessions.
The singer -- second husband of Cindy Cash -- split with her in 1988.
Marty also became the fourth husband of country singer Connie Smith, 17 years his senior, when they wed in 1997. They live in the recently renovated former Hendersonville home of the late Roy Orbison.
Stuart eventually signed with Columbia Records, which released his self-titled disc in 1986. When things with Columbia didn't work out, Stuart went to MCA where he enjoyed his greatest success.
From 1990 to 1992, he scored top 10s with "Hillbilly Rock," "Little Things," "Tempted" and his biggest hit, "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," recorded with soulmate Travis Tritt. He had another hit with Tritt -- "This One's Gonna Hurt You (For a Long, Long Time)" and on his own with "Burn Me Down".
He also recorded an acclaimed but modest-selling concept album The Pilgrim in 1999.
Stuart based the story on an infamous hometown episode from his Mississippi youth. A beautiful cheerleader unexpectedly marries a rough, troubled, working-class guy. Later, as the relationship splinters, the woman begins an affair with a guy at work, who has no idea she's married.
One day, her husband shows up at work, drunk and carrying a gun, and finds them snuggling in a break room. After a few cross words, he puts the gun to his head and shoots himself. The woman's lover, angered at what she hid from him, leaves her and the town behind. He begins drinking excessively and ends up a homeless, destitute alcoholic.
He eventually decides to hitchhike to California, to visit his mother's grave before killing himself. While there, he experiences a spiritual revelation about love and the meaning of life. He decides to return to Mississippi to seek out his former lover. They reunite, move away, start a family, and live as happily as could be expected.
"Reasons" -- one of the album's most powerful songs -- reveals the husband's tortured thoughts as he prepares to surprise his wife and take his own life. "It was the perfect excuse to get drunk, as if lately I've needed one," the song begins. "It was a perfect excuse to buy bullets for the barrel of my favorite gun." As the song continues, and as it becomes clear that the man intends to commit suicide, certain lines stick out like a wound, such as "I thought that I had loved you, I did the best that I could."
It's one of those rare songs that take a sympathetic look at a confused, angered man unable to deal with his pain.
DUI DOUBLE DOSE
Life imitated art for Stuart in his colorful career. But the singer, like many peers, fought the law and the law won when busted for DUI in July 2004. Stuart was arrested June 23 on the street in front of a McDonald's restaurant in the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville. Stuart spent two days in jail in Sumner County, Tennessee, after pleading guilty to DUI. Stuart's sentence of 11 months and 29 days was suspended, except for the two days in jail. He was also fined $350.
In April 2002, Stuart was arrested and charged with operating under the influence, but a judge threw out the charges.
The battles with the law didn't derail Stuart's career. He recorded the soundtrack for the movie All The Pretty Horses in 2001.
Stuart and his band The Fabulous Superlatives recorded a live concert at the famed Ryman Auditorium on July 24, 2003. He also made an 11-song gospel collection Souls' Chapel and Badlands - a 14-song disc with John Carter Cash.
Stuart has also written six books, three of which are photography collections.
Dixie Chicks, George Strait, Wynonna, Tritt, Larry Cordle, Gary Allan, Rick Trevino, John Anderson, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Marty Brown, Wade Hayes, Emmylou Harris, Jon Randall, Buck Owens, Linda Ronstadt, Clint Black, Martina McBride. Joy Lynn White, Mark Collie, Jann Browne and many other artists recorded his songs.
CD REVIEW 2004
MARTY, MERLE, CONNIE AND CASH CROPS
"Who'll buy my wheat, who'll buy my corn/ to feed my babies when they're born/ seeds and dirt, a prayer for rain that I can use/ I work the land, I watch the sky, I talk to God and wonder why/ but it's the only life I know, these farmer's blues." "Farmer's Blues" written by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith.
Mississippi minstrel Marty Stuart enlisted in the roots country music army to fight for his genre on radio and concert battlefield."I think it's like a soldier in the army," revealed Stuart.
"You surrender your suit for a sabbatical. I think right now country music needs all the true soldiers it can get. I must be becoming an old curmudgeon. I think it's also okay to stand up for what you believe in. Regardless if somebody believes in the country disco movement, they should absolutely stand by their convictions and stand up."
Stuart's sabbatical, in the afterglow of his acclaimed concept album The Pilgrim, included scoring soundtracks for a brace of movies.
He scored music for Daddy & Them, All the Pretty Horses for Billy Bob Thornton and Yellow Bird with Faye Dunaway.
"It's real evident to me from soundtrack work that the image and the music have to line up. During my time on the farm in Mississippi, I'd look at gardens and trees, basically nature. Country things. Barns, silos, fields and cows, and when I'd listen to country radio, it didn't always line up with what I was seeing. I totally understand that we have more of the urban sounding music these days. When I listen to this record it lines up with what I feel and see."
Stuart also produced Johnny Cash tribute, Kindred Spirit and helmed actor Billy Bob Thornton's debut disc Private Radio.
So it's no surprise the child prodigy, who went on the road with the late Lester Flatt at 13, tills the past on 13th disc Country Music (Sony) that has a bonus DVD.
Stuart entrees with a Rhodes-Hayes tune "A Satisfied Mind" -- a hit for Porter Wagoner in 1955. He revamps former Boy Howdy hombre Jeffrey Steele's semi-spoken word "Tip Your Hat," eulogizing Merle, Hank and Willie where Stuart sings, "tip your hat to the teacher. "Haggard duets with Stuart on "Farmer's Blues" -- a tune he wrote with singing spouse Connie.
"It just seemed like country music marketing 101," says Stuart. "If we tour, we should sing a song together. It was a song that Connie and me wrote. That I think that is one of the finer things I've ever been a part of. Of course, with Merle on it, it gives it another whole level of credibility and interest."
Stuart cut this with his Fabulous Superlatives, and honors former father-in-law Cash with his 40 year-old finale "Walls Of A Prison." The melody is the same as "Streets of Laredo." It's a song about a prisoner determined to break out.
"This is my favorite Johnny Cash song," says Stuart, "it was a happy accident. We had a session booked one night and it was full of musicians. I didn't have anything else to record, and we had more time on the clock. I said, 'let me play you this one.'
Stuart's five originals include George Jones-Clooney seduction romp "By George" and hurting "Fool For Love" with Tom Douglas, "Here I Am" with Rivers Rutherford and "If You Want Me Around" with Paul Kennerley.
He also mines the motherlode with the evocative biographical Music City parable "Sundown In Nashville" and covers "Wishful Thinking" by Mike Henderson and Wally Wilson and Billy Hill oldie "Too Much Month At The End Of The Money."
Social comment and stone country tunes are broken up with honky tonkers akin to his 90's peak when he topped charts with "Hillbilly Rock," " Little Things," "Burn Me Down" and a pair of duets with fellow reborn rebel Travis Tritt.
It started in 1982 when with debut Busy Bee Café on Sugar Hill, a self titled disc on Columbia in 1986 and his MCA era from 1990. Stuart boomeranged to Sony after O Brother Where Art Thou proved he was ahead of his times despite not having a deal when it broke.
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