Marty Stuart -- The Man With A Plan

Interview by Jolene LaVeaux - 1999

They say the early bird catches the worm, if you don't believe it just ask Marty.

"Early morning is a good time. I like to fish. Fishing's like everything else, it's got so high tech it's almost like a day's work just to get to the water. We didn't live on a farm in Mississippi, but both my Grandparents did. I was out there all the time. That was my world. A few years ago me and Travis Tritt was on stage one night in Alabama, and the next night we were gonna be playing in Mississippi. In the middle of the show it just came to me, 'I'm going home tomorrow.' I got the bus driver to drop me off at the edge of my hometown and caught a ride out to my Grandpa's place. He's been gone for about 30 years. I just walked through all the weeds and vines of about 75 acres. I just said, 'This is it!' I cleared it off. When it's time to fish I still like to go down there and just drop a cane pole in the water."

Does he clean his own fish?


Does he actually catch any fish to clean?

"That depends on the lie or the truth!"

In Nashville, Marty almost lives in the country.

"One good flood and we'll be in the river. We live on a riverbank. You get up in the middle of night and see critters in the yard. I have to stay close to the country. Towns are fine to do business in. The trouble on the road anymore, is everywhere you go it's pretty much the same towns. The same franchises at the exits, a Dennys, an Outback, a McDonalds and a KFC. It's always been a struggle to eat good on the road. Sometimes just a good truckstop, or a meat and 3…......I live to find those little places in a town that still have a little local character to them, good food, the Mom and Pop places.' Tthere have been quite a few napkin songs!"

What's the biggest change in Marty since he married Connie Smith?

"I got happier! We just celebrated our second wedding anniversary. (We can be proud of him ladies, he actually remembered the date!) Every day's a brand new day. It feels like we've been together all our lives."

Marty told his Mama back when he was about 12 that he was going to marry Connie Smith. It sure took him long enough to propose. Was it a romantic proposal?

"You'll have to ask her that."

Since most writers create their best songs when they're miserable, has he had trouble writing?

"Concerning music and Connie, she just has exquisite taste. She's a master at what she does, and just having her around as a sounding board…you know, 'Baby, what do you think about this line, should I change this, or do that.' After all the records she's cut, she should have a good opinion."

Connie's new album, was produced by Marty and Justin Neibank. Marty and Connie wrote most of the songs.

"Hearts like Ours is a very pretty song, a very special song. We had gone to Chattanooga to do some Christmas shopping and, when we got home, we wrote two songs that night. Hearts Like Ours was one of them."

When you talk about Christmas, Marty seems to light up.

"I like Christmas 'cause it means slowing down. Family coming in, friends coming in, too much food, too much relaxation, Connie's great at it. She should have been a cowgirl. She's great at rounding up people. She's got a big family. My family, it takes a butterfly net to get them together."

You can tell by the cowgirl outfit Connie wears on the back of the album that she's also been influenced by Marty. Marty always stands out in any crowd.

"The moral of that story, is you dress yourself funny long enough, have goofy hair, and that'll happen to you too!"

So, did Marty help Connie shop for her selection of clothes?

"NO. I get talked to about that. She's a big girl, and she picked it out herself. I'm a world class shopper. I've wasted money in the best of stores, but I hate the grocery. I'd rather go to the dentist than the grocery store!"

Marty says this munching down on a piece of watermelon. He may not like the grocery, but he spends a lot of time looking at the refrigerator.

"We travel as much as we can together. But Connie has a full schedule and I have a full schedule, and we meet on the refrigerator door."

You might say they really do have a magnetic relationship.

"Our schedule's just kind of live there, held up by two Hula girls we picked up in Hawaii, a Ryman Auditorium, a Christmas tree, and a Kembro electric truck (for when the power goes out).'"

When it comes to cooking, Marty says he's strictly a grill man.

"Pork Chops, steaks, that's about my limit. I have other fish to fry."

I told him he had 'tunnel vision' when it came to his career in music.

" 'I just knew what I wanted to do! I started practicing my autograph when I was 3 years old. I don't know if it was arrogance or boredom."

Marty would not have been a good poster child for school, but when it comes to Country Music he is one of the best historians around.

"I have no excuses! When I'd read History books, I'd see Washington DC, and I'd think 'Why look at the pictures when you can go see it!' "

He actually wrote a paper and took it to school, outlining his future career in country music.

"Yeah, in the 6th grade. It's at my Mama's."

So, how accurate was his ESP?

"I tell you, it's pretty scary, because just about point for point, it's all come true!"

Marty's new goal?

"I think just survival! Nashville's changing so rapidly as you go into the new millennium. Just finding a 'getting on' place is the next goal."

In his latest project 'The Pilgrim' Marty sings about 'Goin' Nowhere Fast', 'Reasons', and 'Sometimes the Pleasure's Worth the Pain'!

"It was a pretty big undertaking. It took three years to write, but I enjoyed every minute of it. It's the creative highlight of my life so far, and it was just a total challenge. Something I'm truly proud of. If I never made another record in country music, it'd be a good one to be remembered by."

It could easily become a Country Music Broadway Play. I think Marty shows he could be in the same category as Roger Miller. One of the neatest things about this album was the way Marty documented the pilgrimage it took to write the songs. Each song tells you when and where he was in his travels, when he wrote it. From Florida, to Paducah, Kentucky., to New York…

"It was somewhere on an airplane between the Bahamas and Hawaii that I wrote The Observations of the Crow. I just love crows! They're goofy birds. Any bird that wears black all year long is alright by me! They have their own sensibilities in the bird world, their own place. You see some old crow sitting up on the highline pole looking down at this little town, and knowing everybody that goes and comes in it. The strangers, the locals, knowing their case, and then to find out at the end of the song….."

(You'll have to buy the album to find out how it ends!) This album is a classic. Marty was not afraid to call on his Country Music family for special performances. Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, and Johnny Cash just to name a few. Marty flew down to Jamaica for Johnny to lay down his part.

"We didn't get to go fishing. We swiped golf balls from the rich people, and gave them to the poor people."

Marty's philosophy at this time?

"I tell you Jolene, I'm at the point now, I enjoy being a part of the things I really love, and with people I love and believe in. 'Cause the truth is, the Country Music I fell in love with, it's the people. They're almost becoming an endangered species, they're so precious. I've figure I've got a lot of time left to do outside projects. So, anything like June's project, (June Cater Cash's album Press On), it meant a whole lot to be part of that. She's my ex-mother-in-law, and I love her to death. She sets the standard for all ex- mothers-in-law. She called when she was thinking about doing that record and said, 'I want to do an album called 'June Carter Cash and her ex-sons-in-law!' Hey, I'm in!"

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