Marty Stuart: Frank?
Puremusic: Hey, Marty.
MS: Kenny Vaughan says hello.
PM: [laughs] Very kind of you to extend that, thanks.
MS: He's right across the room.
PM: [laughs] Oh, really? Are you guys in rehearsal or just hanging?
MS: We were just working on a song.
PM: You mean you're writing one or learning one?
MS: We're writing one.
PM: Ah, beautiful, yeah. I've been writing up a storm lately. Is that the best part of the process for you? That's my favorite part.
MS: Well, it's probably the most magical part of it.
MS: I know how to make records, but you got to have something to make.
PM: Yeah. And if you don't have a great song, you really don't have anything.
MS: That's the truth.
PM: When I saw you receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Awards Show, I thought that was a beautiful acceptance speech you made, but I couldn't help thinking, "But he's too young to be receiving a lifetime achievement award."
MS: Well, I'm the cat with nine lives.
PM: Exactly--that was the other thing. Well, which one of his lives are you talking about?
MS: Yeah. I always take those awards with gratitude, but you can't tie much too 'em. You got to keep rockin'.
PM: "Well, if I'm that to you, that's nice" kind of thing.
PM: Aside from Kenny, one of my closest friends and co-writers is Peter Cronin, whose wife Karen designs your CDs. She loves working with you.
MS: Well, she's fun to work with. She really gets it.
PM: So along the way I've heard some interesting plans you have with Universal South for albums and sets of albums to come that sound very impressive. I hope that it's appropriate to ask you how it works, how it lays out in your mind, and what's coming up with these records.
MS: Well, there was a series, you probably remember, on Verve Records, Ella Fitzgerald had a series called The Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks.
PM: Right, sure.
MS: And I had always heard about them, but I had never seen them in person until a couple of months ago when I went to New York City. They're not in box-set form. So I ordered them, and sure enough, there are the songs of Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter, and the Gershwins, all those great writers.
PM: Oh, I got to get that. [In fact, we went directly to Ebay after the interview and started with a Best Of collection from the Songbooks, a 1990 Siver Series reissue for $6.50.]
MS: So the idea was for Superlatone and Universal South to put out a similar concept, except just not singing songwriters. So far, it's Soul's Chapel and now Badlands, and the Ryman bluegrass record, and there are about four more [series] in the barrel that are in different states of development. Around the first of the year, we'll be going back to the studio to start making more records.
PM: Unbelievable. So the one after Souls' Chapel is Badlands, and that's the Native American record, right?
MS: Sure, that's right.
PM: Could you tell me more about that? I'm not really wired in.
MS: Well, it's ballads of the Lakota Indians. I guess its spiritual father is the Bitter Tears record by Johnny Cash. And when I was in his band we went up to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation [in South Dakota] and did a benefit concert. And it was pointed out to me that the reason we were there was that it's the poorest county in the United States.
PM: I see.
MS: And I fell in love with the Native American people, and have been back many, many times since then. Connie and I were married up there.
MS: And so I've been adopted up there. They're like my family. So when I was getting into this adventure with Superlatone and Universal, I thought, well, I've got a record deal, and I can do anything I want to. So I created this record and wrote songs, past, present and future stories of the Lakota Indians from up there.
MS: It's pretty cool.
PM: Holy jeez. So one is led to believe that when you found this new home at Universal South that basically the guys you're working with said, "Well, Marty, you can do whatever the hell it is you'd like to do."
MS: They gave me a playpen and some crayons.
PM: It's just unbelievable.
MS: And a budget. It's a heavenly thing.
PM: In these days, in the record business, the deal you get is carte blanche?
MS: Isn't that crazy?
PM: I think you got to be Marty Stuart to get that deal, but I'm glad somebody is.
MS: Well, and the idea is to use it wisely, because the music business will come and go, but while it's upon us, the idea is to make real things.
PM: Yeah. Because there's no more fickle lover than the music business.
MS: Uh-huh. continue