Marty Stuart Does It All--Country Style

This appeared in County Weekly - July 21, 1998

Marty Stuart's balancing more balls in the air than a juggler. The "Burn Me Down" singer is working on a new album, staging his first photography exhibit, producing music for a new film and co-producing an album for wife Connie Smith.

"If you like Connie's voice, just wait till you hear her new album," declares a noticeably proud Marty. Connie's album is due out in September and Marty heads back to the studio in October to record his own album, The Pilgrim, with noted Nashville producer Tony Brown. "The studio's my home as much as the stage. I want to get back in there," he confesses.

He is currently writing the album's songs and describes them as a journey through the ages. "In my mind, it starts on A.P. Carter's front porch, moves to an apple tree and lands in a cloud in the 21st century. My heart and soul's screaming for me to do it, so I've got to take a shot at it."

Marty plans to take as many shots as he can to propel country music into the next millennium. He's committed to using his talents as songwriter, film scorer, producer, historian, photographer and performer to accomplish his goal.

The 39-year-old entertainer's latest contribution is "Same Old Train," a song he's written for the new Tribute to Tradition compilation album.

We'll go on forever, and here's your solid proof.....
As long as there's a world, we've got to sing those folks the truth.

"I love that line," declares Marty. "That's the way I feel about it." Others feel that way too. When Marty sent out the call to record "Same Old Train," Dwight Yoakam, Clint Black, Merle Haggard, Travis Tritt, Randy Travis, Alison Krauss and Pam Tillis were some of the stars who responded.

"The people that we used really represent true country music," Marty says. "Their hearts are pure." He singles out Joe Diffie for special praise. "Joe was the champion of that song. He did such an incredible job laying down the original tracks that it was hard for me to persuade anyone to sing on top of him."

The stirring song was originally intended for The Pilgrim, but the MCA artist thought it was more suited for Tribute to Tradition, set for release in September by Sony.

"I thought the words were really pretty, but the tune didn't fit my album," Marty tells Country Weekly. "So I laid it aside and thought it might come in handy some day. When I was asked to contribute an anthem--an overview of country music--it was the only thing in the world I had to throw them. I didn't expect them to take it because it's kind of poetic."

Marty knows the poetry of a song and of a career. "I'm one of those people, I suppose, who kind of disappears for a year and then reinvents himself and comes back."

He's completing work as executive music producer for Hi-Lo Country, a new film produced by Martin Scorsese. It was an opportunity he landed after playing casting agent. "I got a call from Scorsese back in the fall," Marty explains. "He wanted to cast a part of an old woman who's really been there. I said 'Her name is Rose Maddox. If she'll do it.' "

The country legend agreed and filmed the scenes a few months before her death in April. "We flew her to Santa Fe and treated her like a queen," Marty recalls. "Her last scene in the film was looking through a screen door and she shot a look at the camera that chilled me to the bone."

Motion pictures aren't Marty Stuart's only film interests. He's an avid photographer. His critically-acclaimed work is scheduled to debut in September at The Arts Company in Nashville alongside the work of famous Life photograph Ed Clark.

In addition to all of Marty's professional triumphs, he and Connie celebrated their first anniversary this month. The wedding, he reminisces, was a complete reversal for someone who made it clear a few years ago he'd never remarry.

"I had no choice in the matter due to two little words: Connie Smith," Marty explains. "When I started working with Connie five years ago after meeting her at the Opry, I told myself I'd never marry or fall in love with a girl singer.

"I thought, 'This looks stupid on paper. She has five kids, two or three grandbabies, married before, age difference.' I tried to rationalize it. All the while, my heart was saying, 'Sit down, sucker! I'm taking this one.'

"I am so glad I listened to my heart. I wish I could take a snapshot and let time stand still forever. That's how happy I am. She's more than I could ever hope for."

Marty fondly recalls the day they exchanged vows on a Native American reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. "We wanted to go somewhere that was very simple and elegant. It was basically her, me, God and a few Indians. The night before we got married, we went to a sweat ceremony, which is like a prayer meeting. We were about to leave when the medicine man said, 'You look up tomorrow on your way to the wedding, you'll see an eagle.' Sure enough, right before we turned down to the place where we got married, this big ol' eagle floated right over the top of us.

"We got married on a dirt road next to a buffalo pasture because the buffalo is a very sacred animal to Native Americans. That night the lightning was flashing all over the place, but it didn't make one sound. It just made the most beautiful, gorgeous light show you've ever seen. I went away from that place knowing what Connie and me had done had just been truly blessed."

Marty's 26-year career began when the Philadelphia, Mississippi native hit the road with Lester Flatt at the age of 13. Since then, he's rubbed elbows with everyone from Johnny Cash to B.B. King, yet he's still just as down-home as ever.

"I'm in awe of God when I am in the presence of The Rolling Stones or Merle Haggard's voice, Johnny Cash's presence of Travis Tritt's voice or Dwight Yoakam's acting ability," he confides. It's all God-given talent. Every human being on this earth has something special about them. Roger Miller once said, 'Having it is one thing, finding it is another! Knowing what to do with it is another thing.' "

As Marty looks to the future, he declares: As long as you stay true to who you are, stay true to the fans and stay true to the vision--whatever God puts in your heart--you'll be around."

And country music? "We're going to go on forever. Country music is always going to evolve."

By Janet E. Williams

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