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|This appeared in Modern Screen's Country Music Magazine - 1992|
|There ain't nothin' cooler than Marty Stuart singin' "Little Things" or "Paint The Town Tonight." And he knows it too. "People like Dwight Yoakam, myself, Carlene Carter and ol' Bocephus," he says, "are about as hip as they come. If you ain't on to us, you ain't that hip in the first place!"
Me and Marty are sharing a slice of key lime pie. We're both dipping our forks into that sweetness like pistons. Damn, it's good.
"I was playing bluegrass in the early '70s," he says. "Ten years later I'd look up around me, see that 'Urban Cowboy' stuff and duck real fast so it wouldn't get on me! The only cool thing back then was Willie and Waylon. In fact, if it hadn't been for those two, country music's borders wouldn't be so broad today."
Stuart's follow-up to Hillbilly Rock, called Tempted, is a gem. With rousing anthems like "Get Back To The Country" and the irresistible "I'm Blue I'm Lonesome," he's realizing every honky tonk dream he ever had. "I wanted Porter Wagoner suits, a Fender guitar and directions to the nearest hillbilly bus," he says with pride. "It's all I ever wanted to do."
Back in '87, it didn't look like he'd ever amount to much of anything. His label wouldn't release his record. His marriage to Johnny Cash's "other" daughter, Cindy, was over. He had been on and off the road for 15 years and he couldn't yet see the end of the highway. "But I got to thinking," he says as he scoops up that last piece of pie that I wanted, "hell, if I quit, there's nothin' else I know how to do."
In realizing his failed marriage was not his fault, in signing with a new label, in reinforcing his battered self-pride, he turned his life around. "Cindy was a frustrated artist," he says of his ex-wife. "We were two pretty frustrated people in the same house who made better friends than they did lovers. I remember we got married on April Fool's Day. Maybe that was our first mistake."
Go to a Marty Stuart concert and you'll see oldsters, youngsters, bikers, honky tonkers, cowboy hats and rockabilly hairdos. "It's the strangest crowd," Marty admits. "I was signing autographs one day and this little old lady jumped through security, told me she loved me and bit me on the neck! I had three big ol' guys trying to pry her off me, man! The next night, I'm onstage and here she comes again. I'm holding her back with one arm goin' 'lady, leave me alone!'."
Ask him who his heroes are and you'll get a wide variety: Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. As a kid, he was a phenom guitarist and mandolinist in the bands of Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash. Now Waylon and Willie are knocking down his door asking him to open a string of autumn shows.
"The face of country music has changed," he says as he gets up. "But one thing that'll never change is the country audience. They're really steady and they're the most loyal fans of all. You do right by them and they'll be with you a long long time. Believe me, I know."
By Mike Greenblatt
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