by Julia Reed – Garden & Gun Magazine

photos by David McClister

Marty Stuart may be one of country music’s greats, but these days he’s more concerned with preserving the legends of those who came before him

It’s a frigid night in Fort Worth, Texas, and I am standing backstage at the two-thousand-seat Bass Performance Hall, where Marty Stuart and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, have just opened for Merle Haggard. At seventy-seven, Haggard is showing signs of frailty—his wife and backup singer, Theresa, has already left her mike to fetch him water and his inhaler—and Stuart is almost hyperconscious of the time remaining with the greats of what he calls “real” country. “There so little of this left,” he says as Haggard launches into “Sing Me Back Home,” the 1967 hit that draws on his three years in San Quentin State Prison.” At one time, there was so much gold it was falling off trees, and now we’re down to a handful of doubloons.” What Stuart would never say is that a whole lot of people in the sold-out auditorium—as well as Haggard himself—would put him in the same exalted company.

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