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Marty marches with The Pilgrim

By Jeffrey B. Remz, June 1999

Page 2...

"I never did know when a song would hit. Sometimes, weeks go by, and nothing would happen. I'd get jittery about it. Some days, I'd get two songs a day."

For example, two very different songs stylistically "Reasons" and "The Observations of a Crow" were written two days apart.

Stuart incorporates many musical styles.

"It has more than one agenda," Stuart says of "The Pilgrim."

"One of the agendas to me was that it was (me) standing on a vantage point from 25 years out. I've played bluegrass, honky tonk, rockabilly, hard core country music. I started thinking about the different kinds of music I've played under the umbrella of country music...It got fun for me again. I thought it would be more in that way rather than finding one style and putting it right there."

And that he does with the help of bluegrassers Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, Uncle Josh Graves and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty's band, The Heartbreakers, who co-wrote the more rootsy sounding "Draggin' Around These Chains of Love."

Stuart, 40, indicated he was intent on doing things his way after trying it their way.

"I thought 'Honky Tonkin' is one of my best," he says, referring to his 1996 album. "I colored inside the lines, and I was a good little (boy), and I tried my best to make it work out, and nothing fired on there. 'You Can't Stop Love' wasn't a hit, I don't know what to do."

"That's when I stopped (going along)," Stuart says. "Apparently I'm out of style again. I've been in and out of style a whole bunch of times. It makes it harder. You can't just pick up the phone to turn things down."

Stuart doesn't care for what's been going down in Nashville in recent years.

"I just don't know how much more we can bear of the same sold same old around here. There's so much creativity that gets locked up in the Nashville. This could get me to lose my job (with MCA). I'll take what I got coming, good or bad from this record. It's time for a lot of Nashville more talent, more Nashville treasures than any other town on Planet Earth. Most of it doesn't get heard. This is one of those records that went 'okay, we got to do something different around here.'"

The early reception at least singles-wise has not been good as "Red, Red Wine and Cheatin' Songs" did not fare well.

"It came back to by research that it was too country," Stuart says. "I said, 'thank you very much.' I felt it was an incredible success."

Stuart, married to country great Connie Smith, has a clear idea what the recording means to him.

"The message that I find for me personally (is) it goes back to almost a reflection of my love affair with country music and the different styles. I've dedicated, sacrificed, given and been rewarded for a quarter century of my life for music that G-d has put it in my life and people. That's truly changed my life."

As for the story of "The Pilgrim," Stuart says, "If you really are hanging out with true love, whether it's true love for somebody else, your call in life or a pocket knife in lost, if you stick it out, true love will reign if you just get out of its way and gives way to it. It offers a true ray of hope."

Stuart makes no apologies for "The Pilgrim."

"If I'm not accepted in this arena for what I'm trying to do, the best thing to do is go crazy and be fearless," Stuart says. "If it all falls apart, I've got my integrity and my dignity in my pocket, and I don't have an album that I'm going to be beat over the head with for the rest of my life. It's total gamble."

"It's one of those records that will mean a whole lot 15 years from now than it does now. A lot of musical citizens will get it right off the bat. For a lot of them, it is not a disposable little ditty. For those (othres), sorry I let you down. Maybe I'll be around next year."

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