Marty Stuart Interview

Not Looking Back

This appeared on - November 13, 2005

Kim – Souls' Chapel is a phenomenal album and the story behind it is just as good. I understand that when you got the DUI you were already working on the album and it stalled things for a bit.

Marty – Yeah, but it didn’t so much stall it as put a dent in it and then it kept going.

Kim – Was Souls' Chapel was just something different for you to do – a trip back to your roots – or do you feel like God was really pulling on your heart-strings?

Marty – It wasn’t anything different because back to the very beginning, the first public appearance that I ever made in my life was standing on a piano bench in church, singing. The first job I ever had was the Sullivan Family Gospel Singers. In the early 90’s, when I was so focused on country radio, the way I got to play gospel music was by way of Jerry and Tammy Sullivan.

We wrote songs and I produced and recorded three records with them. There was just never any room inside of country music’s agenda to let me do a gospel record. It’s just something that I always wanted to get around to doing. Finally the circumstances, the songs, the timing all lined up and God just made a way for it. That’s how we got Souls' Chapel.

Kim – I read about how the gift of Pop Staples’ guitar was such a help for you getting your life back on track because you’d lost sight of where your faith was. Where would you say that your track is leading now?

Marty – In just pure terms – not trying to play anybody’s politically correct game or any church-house game. I’ve been riding the fence for a long time between what I knew, what I believed and what I was living. What happened to me was God’s much needed prod to go to one side or the other. You either radically sell out one way or the other. I’ve made my decision and haven’t looked back since.

Kim – Would you say that the party life-style that surrounds you as a country music superstar makes it more difficult to live out your faith?

Marty – Nah! Absolutely not. It just amounts to getting right and getting real. I totally understand that I’m an outsider to the Christian music circles and that’s all right with me. Since the time I started touring when I was 12 years old I’ve had a lot of friends in quartets. Some of the most decadent human beings I’ve ever met are gospel singers and preachers. I promise you that a lot of them that I know could give Keith Richards and me and Johnny Cash and George Jones a run for our money on our best night back in the day. So let’s not go pointing fingers at country stars. It’s about being people that’s either right or wrong. If you blew the lid off of the church I think there would be a lot of rats going scrambling.

Kim – I understand. There are a lot of good church folks who mess up and then do their best to bury it because they’re afraid.

Marty – That’s the kind of person I was. There’s your example of me. Good church boy, brought up right, solid Christian parents who walked it as close as I could, but it was that little piece that you hide and bury. That upsets the whole apple cart in the long run, don’t it?

Kim – It does. It always seems to come back.

Marty – And that’s not pointing a finger at anyone but myself. I’m a good example of the people sitting in those pews. We were taught it, we know it, we love it, we ain’t quite up to living it and somewhere along the way, I believe that God has to shine the light because He has to be true to His Word and to His plan. And in my case it was a blue light.

Kim – What is next on your agenda?

Marty – Well, I went crazy and made three records at once, one of which was Souls' Chapel.

Kim – Are you nuts?

Marty – Yeah! Don’t you know that by now? The second one was called Badlands and it released in late October. It’s the journey of my Native American record … the people I love up on Pine Ridge, the South Dakota reservation. That’s the poorest county in the United States of America. I’ve been going up there for years. The third album is coming out in February and it’s called Live At The Ryman. It’s a bluegrass record. We’ve got that, we’re touring, we’ve got a TV show in development and six books coming. So there you go.

Kim – If someone else in the entertainment came to you and was trying to get their own life under control, after getting a curve ball, what you would say to them?

Marty – My momma gave me a good piece of advice. “Always a good place to do is be still and listen. Because when there’s nothing to do on the outside, there’s always a lot to do on the inside.” You can take that and then you can put the 10 Commandments in front of you along with the Scripture of Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” You start by just going back to the basics … getting still, taking your eyes off of the world and just like in the boat, getting your eyes back on the Lord, and things start changing. It’s about getting your priorities right. It always helps to have a great, faith-based church, where the Word is being taught and dispensed in a great and balanced way. Just those little basics of the Christian walk. Sometimes, of course, it’s changing your playground and your playmates. But if you go after God as hard as you go after earthly things, you’ll get results. He says, “Draw close to me and I’ll draw close to you,” right? So there you go.

By Kim Jones

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