Country Music: The Masters

In 2007, Marty Stuart self-published his second photo book called Country Music: The Masters. Initially, the book was available only through his website, concerts and the Country Music Hall of Fame. In November 2008, Source Books took over publication of the book and included an audio CD of Marty talking about some of the photographs and a mp3 and video of Marty's never-before-recording of "Dark Bird," a song he wrote about Johnny Cash.

The cover of the book features a formidable picture of country music legend (and Marty's former father-in-law) Johnny Cash. The picture was taken four days before Johnny passed away in September 2003.

The photographs, taken by Marty over the past 30 years, include landscape images, Hatch posters, rhinestoned suits, boots, and landmarks, but the biggest draw are the photographs of country music royalty -- those who created country music (a photograph of the Carter Family homestead, Jimmie Rodgers' monument in Meridian, Mississippi, Hank Williams, Sr.'s handwritten lyrics to a song) to those who brought country music to the forefront of popularity: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Connie Smith, Dolly Parton, and so many more. Ironically, the book features photographs of photographs -- Marty captured the lightning show over the Ryman Auditorium from a photo hanging on Roy Acuff's wall. To honor those "masters" Marty was unable to capture on film, he's included photographs of personal items: Marty Robbins' guitar case, Lefty Frizzell's boots and guitar, Minnie Pearl's shoes and famous hat. One of the more poignant photos was taken at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. The Cadillac in which Hank, Sr. died is on display and on the day Marty was there, Charles Carr, Hank's driver, was also there. Marty asked if Mr. Carr would sit in the driver's seat and allow Marty to take a picture. Mr. Carr agreed.

Marty, not one to forget the sidemen in Country Music, also included photographs of many of the session players in Nashville: John Hughey, Leon Rhodes, Buddy Spicher, Wayne Moss, Lloyd Green, Buddy Harmon, Ralph Mooney, Charley McCoy and many, many more.

This book is a legacy to all those pioneers and those who have carried and continue to carry the torch for Country Music today. At some point in time, all of these people will be gone, but they will always live on in the magnificent photographs by Marty Stuart.

As Billy Bob Thornton wrote: "A photograph can just be a piece of paper with an image on it. A flat one-dimensional image. A picture. But when the observer with his finger on the button has the life experience it takes to understand the life he's shooting, the photograph is a story. Marty's photographs live and breathe. If it's a person, you can hear their thoughts, feel their pain or joy, and read at least a part of their story. If it's a building or a landscape, you can feel the presence of those who have walked there or lived there through the years.

Let these flesh and blood characters and these ghosts wash over you. Disappear into the stories. They were captured, in a moment, forever, by Marty Stuart. A visionary."

300 pages - Hardcover - Retail Price - $49.95

Prefaces in the Book
People in the Book
Marty's story
Country Weekly article from January 26, 2009

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