Marty Stuart Takes A Detour With Film, Play And Books

This appeared in Country Weekly - October 28, 1997

After a quarter century in country music, Marty Stuart is taking on new challenges to keep his powers of imagination and inventiveness buffed bright.

"I was just kind of running on fumes, creatively," Marty says. "There comes a point where you go, 'Well, I can go back and do this and this and this and this and this again and run along with the pack, but I never get anywhere running with the pack.' The fun factor had dropped. It had turned into a job."

His new projects include writing the music and lyrics for a stage comedy, working on movie soundtracks and books of photographs and short stories.

"To me, it's an exercise in fun. It's a challenge. I have been writing. There are things to write beyond songs. There are short stories, plays, songs for plays, novels, poetry."

He just finished the music and lyrics for a musical comedy called Moon Shine. The play was written by Mary Willard and stars her husband, comedian Fred Willard. The Willards are old friends of Marty's.

"The play is about three guys from Texas who are heirs to an animal chow kingdom," Marty says. "They've got more money than they can ever spend in 50 lives, but their daddy died and left it in his will that if his sons didn't go out and get some culture and meet three women their their other approved of to bring back home and marry, they would lose the money to one of his old Army buddies.

"So these guys--where do they come to look for the finest women in the world? L.A."

The plot might be loony, but Marty's taking the tunes very seriously. "Here's the perfect chance for country music to shine in Los Angeles. We still have trouble out there. There's a bit of a hay bale mentality, and I thought here's the chance to show them that wonderful, world-class songs can be written. I took that as a personal challenge."

A trip to the Sundance Film Festival led to soundtrack work for movies like the upcoming Hi Lo Country, starring Woody Harrelson.

"The thing about this film that knocks me out: I'm sitting in the middle of Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive, talking to this wonderful musical person who wants things to sound like Bob Wills really made them sound in 1946," says Marty.

"She said, 'I don't want a song from 1947. I want a song from 1946. It's a post-war period,' They're actually being truer to country music on Rodeo Drive than we are on (Nashville's) 16th Avenue."

Marty is also beginning a pair of books. One is a collection of his short stories; the other is built around 25 years worth of his photographs, which document his career back to its start when he was a teen mandolin prodigy working with Lester Flatt.

The new projects represent a detour, says Marty, not a destination. "It's just time for recess and to get out and have some fun and then take it back home and make a great album from the experience of it all."

By Robyn Flans

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