Marty Stuart Makes A Wild Start On New Pilgrimage

This appeared in Country Weekly - June 1, 1999

The setting is a Nashville nightclub and Marty Stuart's mingling with an odd bunch, including salsa dancers and women with silver and gold hair. "The people are like 'river trash' that's washed up in this bar," Marty explains. "The last of the late-night losers."

They're all characters in Marty's video for his new single, "Red, Red Wine and Cheatin' Songs." The main character is the focal point of Marty's unique new album, The Pilgrim, loosely based on the true story of a man wandering the country after his love for a woman caused her husband to kill himself.

"I heard the story growing up in Mississippi," Marty explains. "Three years ago, after telling the story to a friend, I realized it would hang together as a 'concept' record." All songs on the record are tied to The Pilgrim saga.

The video's theme sprang from a real-life experience during Marty's wilder days years ago. "I was in Los Angeles drinking at Barney's Beanery with a buddy of mine and we were laughing, having a big time," he recalls. "I heard music and horns playing outside and followed the sound out the front door. It was the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Everything seemed surreal. I thought that it was either a dream or it was really cool."

In the video, "The Pilgrim" staggers to the bar for another drink. Looking into his wine glass, he hallucinates a room full of bizarre strangers. "I totally understand what this guy is feeling," Marty notes. "When you come from that background, it really helps. Because I've been everywhere."

Marty's 20-cut album is set for a June release. He penned "Red, Red Wine and Cheatin' Songs" during a trip to the West Coast. "The CMA had a bunch of us out in Beverly Hills last year, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Trisha Yearwood and Randy Scruggs," he explains.

"We were showing the Hollywood film community our music was legitimate for their films. At that point, I had a writer's block and couldn't get anything to come out. I needed some inspiration." An expensive room at the Beverly Hills Hotel helped provide that inspiration.

"I write the strangest songs," Marty says, laughing. "When I'm on the beach, I write about hard times and misery. And when I'm in the grandeur of the Beverly Hills Hotel, I write about honky-tonks. I wrote 'Red, Red Wine and Cheatin' songs in that hotel room. The song partly relates to The Pilgrim -- and stuff I've lived through."

Taking a break from filming, Marty tells Country Weekly what's ahead for him. "I've got a coffee table photo book coming out in September," he says. "They finally talked me into turning my last hobby into a book. I've shot photographs ever since I've been on the road. It's interesting that the first picture I ever took in my life of a star was of Connie Smith." Connie and Marty married on July 8, 1997.

"My band and I scored the soundtrack for Billy Bob Thornton's film Daddy and Them. I've produced a gospel album (for Jerry and Tammy Sullivan) . And Fender Guitar is releasing a Marty Stuart signature Telecaster guitar that I designed."

But Marty's especially proud of a recent honor he received from his home state of Mississippi -- The Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. "When I saw who I was being honored alongside of, it was one lofty afternoon," he says. "Elvis Presley, Jimmie Rodgers, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and on and on. It makes me so proud to step out of the Mississippi pool of creativity.

"To be included in that and be recognized alongside of those kind of people kind of blows my mind."

By Gerry Wood

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