February 14, 2008 - When Marty Stuart and Connie Smith donated a number of artifacts from his memorabilia warehouse to the Country Music Hall of Fame yesterday, they did so under a Valentine's Day banner, and the two talked freely of the evolution of their relationship, which has seen them married now for more than a decade.
As a teenager, Marty kept the cover of one of her albums in his room, and he rather famously met her at a concert in the early-1970s, where he predicted to his mother that he would one day marry Connie. Some 20 years later, they were both members of the Grand Ole Opry, and he was enlisted to produce an album on her. He recalled that on a rainy night in a Kroger parking lot, the relationship took solid form when he told her to shut up when she was talking incessantly in her car and simply kissed her. He waited for her to slap him, but instead, she responded: "Let's do that again!"
In July 1997, they were married in 96-degree heat on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, where they knew they would have privacy. One of the tribesmen told Marty that if they saw an eagle the day they were married, it would be a successful union, and sure enough, an eagle flew overhead as they drove to the ceremony. For extra measure, a song by Lester Flatt Marty's former employer came on the radio at the same time.
After the wedding, Marty and Connie drove their rental car out into the wilderness and ended up on a cliff dancing to a Buck Owens song, "Your Tender Loving Care."
If there's any doubt about his commitment to her, just consider what Marty says about their marriage: "It's the greatest thing I ever did. Everything else I've ever done pales in comparison to Connie."