The Pilgrim: A Wall-To-Wall Odyssey

The Pilgrim: A Wall-To-Wall Odyssey

The Pilgrim: A Wall-To-Wall Odyssey

by Marty Stuart

BMG

Marty Stuart was a country music veteran when he released his 10th album, The Pilgrim in 1999. He had been playing music professionally since he was 12 – in fact, I saw him playing mandolin with Lester Flatt at my high school in the ’70s when he was 15 or 16 years old. After Flatt he joined Johnny Cash’s band before heading out solo, in the mid-’80s. Stuart was part of the rebirth of country music that saw him, Travis Tritt and Dwight Yoakam find success on the charts, but by the mid-’90s the bloom was off the rose so to speak, and Stuart needed something new.

The Pilgrim: A Wall-To-Wall Odyssey chronicles what that turned out to be. Largely ignored upon release, The Pilgrim has since become to be regarded as a masterpiece of pure country songwriting, with Stuart in the role of a man from his birthplace of Philadelphia, Mississippi. After Bill Monroe’s death in 1996, Stuart started collecting his remembrances of the bluegrass legend, that over time became the title song. He gathered his road band, The Rock & Roll Cowboys and headed off to Memphis, where they recorded the song in Sam Phillips Sun Studios.

This lavish tome tracks the origin and birth of The Pilgrim, from the sessions that included Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Ralph Stanley, and Johnny Cash. The initial reaction to the record marked a turning point in Stuart’s career, to the point he fired his band, his manager and struggled to find his place in an industry that had been his entire life. Today, with his band The Fabulous Superlatives, Stuart is a star, with best-selling albums and even a show on RFD-TV. But as he recounts, The Pilgrim holds a special place to him, as well as thousands of devoted listeners. As a concept album, it sits alongside Willie Nelson’s The Red-Headed Stranger, both records being told from the viewpoint of a loner, out of step with the world. The book contains a CD of the album, with bonus tracks called A Traveler’s Companion, featuring cuts left off the original release including more Emmylou, Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs. Listening to the record today shows the timeless beauty of the craft and passion Marty Stuart was able to summon, with songs such as “Hobo’s Prayer”, “The Observations of a Crow” and the title track echoing like few moments in country music. The journey Stuart took in his artistic life with The Pilgrim is compelling, and this book is an enjoyable, informative look at a classic.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Shithouse
    Shithouse

    A darling love story with engaging characters and one of the worst titles ever.

  • Too Much and Never Enough
    Too Much and Never Enough

    One families indifference and abandonment gave America its greatest failure. Mary Trump explains how.

  • Summerland
    Summerland

    In rural England, a cranky woman bonds with and evacuee boy and uncovers a strange connection to her past.

  • Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
    Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations

    These geniuses of early comedy finally get the presentation they are due in this Blu-ray edition.

  • Four-Letter Words
    Four-Letter Words

    No need to worry about offending delicate sensibilities with this playlist. We’re not talking about profanity, so just take the title at face value.

  • A Genesis In My Bed
    A Genesis In My Bed

    Former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett shares his life story in his story in an engaging and honest memoir. Reading his story feels like hanging out with a friend who’s interested in sharing how he felt living these experiences.

  • The Jayhawks
    The Jayhawks

    XOXO (Sham/Thirty Tigers). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

  • 18 to Party
    18 to Party

    When you’re in 8th grade, sneaking into a bar is way cooler than it is when you’re 40.

  • Adam
    Adam

    A pregnant woman finds a home in Casablanca.

  • 2020 on Fire
    2020 on Fire

    Sound Salvation takes on current events with a playlist addressing the current fight for racial and social justice in America and the battles playing out in the streets in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

From the Archives