Marty Stuart (This One's Gonna Hurt You)

This appeared in Country Music USA - September 1992

When Marty Stuart signed with MCA, he had a vision of a perfect musical world--one in which the work of the masters of hillbilly music lives on in the music of a new young artist. His first two MCA albums represented a personal crusade for hillbilly music. Now, with the the release of This One's Gonna Hurt You, the hillbilly crusader has finally come home, successful in his quest. "I finally got the past, present and future together on this album," he says, "and I'm real proud of it."

The album's firs single, This One's Gonna Hurt You (For A Long, Long Time), features Stuart in a duet with Travis Tritt. Their collaboration on record is an outgrowth of their highly successful No Hats Tour, which includes more than a hundred dates stretching from 1991 all the way through 1992.

Stuart's crusade began with his debut MCA album, Hillbilly Rock, which yielded three hit singles (Cry, Cry, Cry; Hillbilly Rock; Western Girls), and continued on Tempted, which yielded four hits (Little Things; Till I Found You; Tempted; and Burn Me Down).

Marty Stuart was born in Mississippi, but he got his schooling--musical and otherwise--on the road with Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash. He likens the years with Flatt to a high school education and his stint with Cash to earning a university degree. He really did go to high school with Flatt, joining the band at the age of 13. His age may have made him somewhat of a novelty onstage, but his performance on mandolin and guitar was strictly professional quality.

The roots of Stuart's musical integrity run back to his experiences with Flatt. "One show in particular made a mark on my career," he recalls. "We were playing Michigan State. The opening act was Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, then Lester, then the Eagles. That showed me you could play country music and just stand and do what you do. We were Martians to this audience, but they loved us. I never thought I would see country music go to college campuses again, but half of these No Hat shows we're doing are on campuses and we're selling out. In that sense, I do feel like a pioneer. I love being a part of that."

The masters of hillbilly music are more than an element in Stuart's music. They are part of his life. On stage, he plays country-rock pioneer Clarence White's 1954 Telecaster with a steel guitar-like string bender on the B-string. He also plays a Martin D-45 formerly owned by Hank Williams Sr. and a D-28 that was Lester Flatt's. His bus is Ernest Tubb's old bus, where Stuart spent many a youthful hour learning how to play poker from the masters. He wears flashy rhinestone and Western suits made by Nudie and Manuel.

Stuart produced his first solo album in 1982--Busy Bee Cafe on the independent Sugar Hill label. In 1986, he made his major label debut on CBS with Marty Stuart.

When Stuart came to MCA, he teamed up in the studio with co-producers Tony Brown and Richard Bennett. For Hillbilly Rock, Stuart drew from Flatt, Cash and all the other highly individual country and honky tonk stylists. He put an extra kick into the music and called it hillbilly music--with a thump. The most important thing about the album, Stuart says, was not the hit singles or the popular videos, but the reaction of traditional country artists. "After Hillbilly Rock took off, they invited us out to the Opry and Hank Snow, Bill Monroe, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Thompson, Porter Wagoner, all the old-timers were there. And Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, they were the main ones--they all gave me their seal of approval, like "Stay with what you're doing. We're proud of you."

For the first time now, with This One's Gonna Hurt You, he feels ready to make his mark in the history of country music. "For the last two albums, there's been more to talk about from the past than for the future," he explains. "I have a peace about this album. I've been aching to make a deep, deep mark that will sound off around the world for country music. I love every note of this album. I feel like I've done my job."

With This One's Gonna Hurt You, the former student of the masters emerges as a master himself--the creator of a new style of music that is solid, vital and unique to Marty Stuart.

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