Not That "Far Away"

This appeared in The Neshoba Democrat - October 6, 2010

Part jam session, part tent revival, the house rocked and swayed Thursday night as Marty Stuart came home to formally dedicate his Mississippi Country Music Trail marker and celebrate his birthday at the Ellis Theater downtown before a packed house.

The night was truly a homecoming for Marty Stuart, whose influences came to life in a "This is Your Life"-style local production that included everything from a pre-recorded rendition of Dolly Parton singing "Happy Birthday" to her friend to the woman who taught him his first guitar chord to a prayer by Tobe Gill.

"Every time you drive past this remember one thing, it stands for unity. It stands for love. It stands for God's grace on a life," Stuart said of the marker that was placed at the corner of Main Street and Byrd Avenue just steps from where he bought his first guitar.

The electric evening gave hope of new life to an old theater, thanks to Stuart's insistence that proceeds from ticket and other sales go toward renovations.

Had anyone had any notion this impromptu jam session would have yielded the richness that it did, the Mississippi Coliseum could have been filled100 times over.

His song "Far Away" talks of prayer around the family table, being out of gas emotionally and coming home. The song is about Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Marty Stuart is an old soul, part of the great legacy of country music in our nation, a true ambassador for Mississippi.

"Thank you for this honor. God never took His hands off of me. The prayers of that lady right there, (his mother Hilda) that lady right there and that family right there never lifted off of me," he said at the dedication.

No, the honor is ours, Marty. You are the man.

What a lovely, intimate, extraordinary and soul-inspiring evening you gave your hometown family on your day.

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