Mining Memories With Marty

This appeared in The Washington Times - December 5, 2008

We had our first snow of the season Thanksgiving week. I'd been rushing around to ready our farm for the nearly 50 friends and family members joining us for the holiday. The snowfall didn't amount to more than a dusting on the ground, but it was enough to slow me down to take in its beauty against the bare trees of late fall.

Besides the snow, two other welcome sights drifted into town recently: Marty Stuart and Guy Clark.

Marty - the consummate musician, writer and tireless curator of country music memorabilia - was visiting Charlottesville as part of an acoustic ramble with Travis Tritt, the two swapping songs and stories onstage.

Marty is also the author of Country Music: The Masters, an extraordinary new book of memorabilia and photographs that he began taking when he was just a kid.

In its 384 pages, you will find the highways and railroad tracks, the buses, the instruments, the costumes, the sidemen, the faces, the cigarettes and late nights, the ghosts, the legends, the loneliness and camaraderie of the road.

Marty has seen it all - and left nothing out. His book is a remarkable document of country-music history and a testament to his passion for the music and its roots. Marty is the husband of Grand Ole Opry great Connie Smith, and there is a picture of her that Marty took when they met, at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1970. Time stands still in that photograph but also manages to bring us full circle.

By Mary-Chapin Carpenter

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