Marty Stuart: Glitter Turns To Gold

These appeared in Country Music Magazine - November/December 1992

I'm working with the greatest, and you can't do any better. As far as going out on my own....I've got plenty of time to think about that. Besides, what do I want with a lot of 12-year-old girls hanging around? I'm staying in the background, watching people like Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe, the old pros, just picking up a few things that might be helpful in the years to come." That's what Marty Stuart said to Country Music in February 1975. At age 15, he'd been a full-time professional musician for two years.

Now, in his 20th year as a pro, after steadfastly hoeing the same row in the same focused way, building on his formidable natural talents through close connection with his musical heroes and their history, Marty Stuart's vision remains its own reward.

On top of that, the more conventional worldly rewards are piling up fast, too. He just hauled in his first CMA Award and three BMI songwriter awards. His No Hats Tour with Travis Tritt, with 30 shows still ahead, has been packing 'em in country-wide during this decidedly recession-depressed year when no one but Garth Brooks was supposed to sell a ticket.

But the icing on Marty's 20th anniversary cake is his current album, This One's Gonna Hurt You, the fastest-selling album of his career. It will be turning Gold about the time you read this.

Marty has accomplished all this with the most unlikely of strategies: keep your roots firmly planted in tradition, fearlessly attack the musical status quo--laying waste to every song attempted, resist to the death the seemingly easy path of chasing a Nashville commercial trend. This is a dangerous course. And for anyone less talented, less experienced and less well-prepared than Marty, probably a disastrous one.

Among this generation, no one else comes to mind with such a fierce combination of strengths. As our Editor-At-Large Patrick Carr says, "There are a few picker/singers with Marty's raw talent, but there's nobody with his depth in the most demanding areas of popular music--bluegrass at its highest level, first-class Nashville session work, major league rock 'n' roll--and, even more to the point, there's nobody with his vision. Nobody else would have stood in the heart of modern Nashville and taken quite such an unfashionable position--country as music meant to blow you away--and then held it against all odds until it began to seem, well, almost profitable."

As the following pages show both in pictures and in Marty's own words, he seems to draw the strength necessary for his assault from his intimate association with those who pioneered before him. But he is equally eager to send the same commitment the other direction to those just stepping into the fray.

I was with him in Nashville the day before the CMA Awards when we ran into Billy Ray Cyrus. They hadn't met before. "I've been trying to catch up with you for two days," gushed Billy Ray. "I'm a real admirer of your talent, and I really want to thank you for those nice things you've said about me."

"You deserve it," Marty flashed his electric grin, "and I'm glad to know you!"

Article written by Russ Barnard

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