Mississippi native Marty Stuart has lived multiple musical lifetimes and had the pleasure of collaborating with country music's all-time greats. As a teenager, he performed with Lester Flatt, with the Nashville Grass; later, he was in Johnny Cash's backing band.
As a solo artist, Stuart has also embraced an eclectic array of styles: bluegrass, honky-tonk, rock 'n' roll, roots and folk, and vintage country. He's won four Grammy Awards -- including the 1993 Grammy for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, for the Travis Tritt duet "The Whiskey Ain't Workin"-- and notched 10 Top 20 country chart hits. Stuart will join the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2020.
Stuart's career momentum keeps on rolling along as well. In 2017, he and his ace band, His Fabulous Superlatives, released the well-received Way Out West -- and followed that up in the fall of 2018 by opening for and backing Byrds members Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman on the Sweetheart of the Rodeo 50th anniversary tour.
Here are the Top 10 Marty Stuart songs.
"If There Ain't, There Ought'a Be"From 2003's 'Country Music'
The first album credited to Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives contains this breezy, fiddle-heavy song, which dreams of a Utopian existence full of idealized love, answers to thorny questions and no debt or bosses. "If There Ain't, There Ought'a Be" was co-written by Bobby Pinson and Trey Bruce, and ended up a perfect cross between modern pop-country and vintage sounds.
"Kiss Me, I'm Gone"From 1994's 'Love and Luck'
Co-written by Stuart, this smoldering honky-tonk tune honors the first blushes of love, when passion peaks and you can't get enough of a significant other: "You've got kisses sweet as honey / Got me eating right out of your hand / You sure 'nuff got a line of talk / That a man can understand." "Kiss Me, I'm Gone" peaked at No. 26 on the country singles chart.
"Time Don't Wait"From 2017's 'Way Out West'
Billed under Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Way Out West was one of the finest albums of 2017. One of the record's hands-down highlights is the cautionary tale "Time Don't Wait," a meditation on the passage of time and the importance of seizing the day. With its jangly guitars and urgent tone, it's a perfect showcase of the band's power.
"Cry! Cry! Cry!"From 1989's 'Hillbilly Rock'
Stuart gives a reverent nod to his former musical boss, Johnny Cash, with this faithful, hotrodding cover of "Cry! Cry! Cry!" The 1989 version of the song, which dates back to Cash's 1957 LP With His Hot and Blue Guitar, boasts kicky rockabilly licks and a knowing, conspiratorial lead vocal that's irresistible. Stuart's "Cry! Cry! Cry!" reached No. 32 on the country charts.
"Hillbilly Rock"From 1989's 'Hillbilly Rock'
Stuart's first Top 10 hit (it landed at No. 8 on the country singles chart), the Paul Kennerley-penned "Hillbilly Rock" doubles as a music history lesson, as the lyrics attempt to pin down what, exactly, the titular music is: "Some say it came from Memphis down in Tennessee / Or it drifted in from Georgia about 1953 / Just as long as it's greasy, as long as it's fast / As long as it's pumpin', honey, it's gonna last." In a nod to the song's endurance, Stuart still breaks out "Hillbilly Rock" live in concert.
"This One's Gonna Hurt You (For a Long, Long Time)"From 1992's 'This One's Gonna Hurt You'
Stuart wrote this loping, pedal steel-heavy ballad and enlisted Travis Tritt to duet on it -- a smart move, as the pair's harmonies on the chorus are note-perfect. Lyrically, the song is sad and angry, in a rather passive-aggressive way: The narrator is watching a beloved walk out the door, and warns, "You can't walk away from true love / And leave your feelings all behind / 'Cause this one's gonna hurt you for a long, long time."
"Burn Me Down"From 1991's 'Tempted'
Combining the hip-swinging grooves of early rock 'n' roll with the rootsy vibe of a country bar band, "Burn Me Down" was another Top 10 hit for Stuart, featuring a narrator giving into passion without reservation: "Your kisses burn like flames / I go crazy when you're around / So touch me, turn me on, and burn me down."
"Little Things"From 1991s 'Tempted'
"Little Things" is a quintessential Stuart tune. Start with its cliche-free romantic lyrics ("I want to see you again, I've got to find a way / Just to hear those little things you say"), add in burnt-crisp guitar twang and rock 'n' roll piano, and then add a rakish, earnest vocal performance on top of it all. "Little Things" was a Top 10 hit, and landed at No. 8 on the country charts.
"Tempted"From 1991's 'Tempted'
"Tempted" is a ragged, almost Springsteen-esque country-meets-rock 'n' roll tune that examines romantic intrigue. Specifically, the narrator sees passionate possibility, and is thinking about giving things a go, even though the other person could break his heart. "Tempted" was Stuart's biggest solo hit to date, peaking at No. 5 on the singles charts.
"The Whiskey Ain't Workin"From 1991's 'It's All About to Change'
Stuart not only co-wrote the Grammy-winning "The Whiskey Ain't Workin," a No. 2 country hit for Travis Tritt -- he also sings on the tune, which features a narrator who's ready to stop wallowing in whiskey (and other drinks) after a breakup. Instead, the protagonist is looking for a life partner: "I need one good honky-tonk angel / To turn my life around / That's reason enough for me to lay / This ol' bottle down."