Go West, Venerable Country Music Star: Marty Stuart's desert psychedelia
May 8, 2018 9:00 AM   Subscribe

"The first two records I ever owned were a Flatt & Scruggs and a Johnny Cash record, and the only two jobs I ever had were for Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash....Your life is never the same after you hang out with characters like that." Marty Stuart—maker of country music and keeper of many of its memories—has a new album out. "Time Don't Wait" is an introduction to its jangly psychedelic desert sound, a creative turn from a veteran of the country music scene.

Stuart was 9 when he formed his first band, and 13 when he started playing alongside bluegrass legend Lester Flatt. A guitar-building buddy introduced him to Johnny Cash, who promptly asked him to join the band:
Somebody loaned me some black clothes, and they stood me on a spot on stage and I didn't even see him before the show started [although] I talked to him on the phone. And when he walked out and said, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash," and the guitar player started into "Folsom Prison Blues," I hung my head and I had to bite my lip because that was my old childhood hero. That was a big moment for me.
He's been there and done that, and has the memorabilia to prove it, as the owner of over 20,000 objects from the history of American country music, a pursuit that started with finding Patsy Cline's makeup case in an antique store. (Brief slideshow.) In 2016, the Library of Congress acquired "hundreds of hours of historic country-music footage, recordings and other audio-visual materials" from his collection to help preserve the music's heritage.

One of his most prized possessions, though, is the “greatest Telecaster in the world." As The Guitar Magazine describes it, Clarence is "the late Kentucky Colonels and Byrds guitarist Clarence White’s heavily-modified 50s Telecaster...Built in collaboration with fellow Byrd Gene Parsons, the Tele is the first ever ‘pull-string’ or B-Bender guitar." It features heavily on Stuart's new record and helps create its Western vibe. For your next road trip the eponymous..."Way Out West."
posted by MonkeyToes (5 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Acting like you are genuinely delighted to be talking to the interviewer (whether or not you are): old-school.
posted by thelonius at 9:10 AM on May 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Marty Stuart is a breath of fresh air in the celebrity smogosphere, and a great musician to boot. Thanks for the post.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:41 AM on May 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I got excited for a few seconds when I read that Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives had a new album out. Then I realized we were talking about "Way Out West" -- which is fourteen months old now.

It's a great album of Western music, Country & Western's forgotten other half, and mixes the best of Marty Robbins' ballads with California surf music. It was produced by Mike Campbell, The Heartbreakers (as in Tom Petty &) guitarist, who brings great production values to one of the best players and tightest bands out there now.

Be sure to listen to the trippy title track, "Way Out West" -- Stuart has a wicked sense of humor and the song itself recalls Hunter S. Thompson at his best.
posted by wolpfack at 3:03 PM on May 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

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