So here he is again, almost four decades strong, in the very space where so many Elvis Presley smash hits were recorded, as were classic sides by Charley Pride, Connie Smith, Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings, only to name a few. As the new Sugar Hill Records album title says, it's also where the latest Marty Stuart release, Ghost Train (The Studio B Sessions), has just been recorded.
"The first recording session I ever participated in was in this room," Marty Stuart says, looking around Nashville's legendary RCA Studio B, "playing mandolin, in Lester Flatt's band, when I was 13. Lester walked over and said 'Why don't you handle the kick-off on this one?' This place has a profound pedigree; it's where so much of American music's legacy was forged, certainly country music's. And sonically, this is a room that welcomes music. It seemed to me that in order to authentically stage a brand new traditional country music record we should bring it home to Studio B. Even though Studio B is now regarded as a museum of sorts, I had a feeling that all it would take to bring the place to life were songs and a good band. I just happened to have both. The Country Music Hall of Fame, who operates the facility, gave me permission to come here and work. It is indeed an honor."
Since starting out singing gospel as a child, the bluegrass stint with Lester Flatt in the '70s, the six years with Johnny Cash in the '80s, and coming up with his smash "hillbilly rock" hits of the '90s, the four time GRAMMY-winner, platinum recording artist, Grand Ole Opry star, country music memorabilia preservationist, stylist, designer, photographer, songwriter, all around renaissance man, charismatic force of nature, and (first of all, perhaps), leader of the extraordinary, versatile touring and recording band The Fabulous Superlatives, Marty Stuart has shown a showman's zest for every conceivable flavor of country music. Not to mention, a missionary's zeal for bringing the importance of the music and its themes home to long-time fans and newcomers alike. Musicologist Peter North cites, "Marty Stuart seems wrapped in his destiny at this point in time. Not only as country music's most notable ambassador/caretaker, but as its main archetypical crusader. He has without question evolved into one of the most important roots musicians and visionaries in America."
"I'm always on the prowl for the kinds of recordings that can inspire and potentially make a difference," Stuart says. "What inspires me now, is traditional country music. It's the music I most cherish, the culture in which I was raised. It's the bedrock upon which the empire of country music is built, the empowering force that provides this genre with lasting credibility. It's beyond trends and it's timeless. With all that being said, I found traditional country music to be on the verge of extinction. It's too precious to let slip away. I wanted to attempt to write a new chapter."
That new chapter is Ghost Train (The Studio B Sessions) which includes such unmitigated country (and Studio B style) staples as the male-female duet (the gorgeous, heartfelt "I Run to You," written and sung with Connie Smith), the dramatic recitation (fittingly, as part of "Porter Wagoner's Grave," a story song written by Stuart that raises the ghost of the late, great country icon, whose final album Marty produced, in the dramatic style Porter mastered), the chugging, bluesy-and spooky- fellow Mississippian Jimmie Rodgers-like train song "Ghost Train Four-Oh-Ten," and such steel guitar driven, hardcore heartbreak ballads such as "A World Without You," (another co-write with Connie) and "Drifting Apart."