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  • I Saw Bobby Bare Kiss Marty Stuart
  • Marianne Worthington
    Summer 2015

on the stage of the Ryman after Bobby had played Marie Laveau and That’s How I Got to Memphis and Detroit City and my friend

who’s a music manager whispered to me that Bobby Bare was the sweetest man in Nashville and his voice was pitch perfect

at age 78 and he still wore washed out jeans and a white hat and a sloppy overshirt and no shit or horsing around on stage just straight ahead music

so that by the time it was over and he kissed Marty Stuart goodbye I was crying but I was on the verge anyway being at the Ryman where

my parents stopped on their honeymoon one October night in 1952 and saw Ernest Tubb and Little Jimmy Dickens and Minnie Pearl

and I didn’t know the Ryman stage was so small but The Grand Ole Opry Square Dancers have just clogged in a corner of that little stage in their red [End Page 30]

checkered outfits and white tap shoes and I felt the same homesickness I felt the first time I saw Coal Miner’s Daughter and Ted says to Clary

Get up Mommy do your Squaw Dance and she does and I’m the only one in the theatre weeping at what most people thought was hokey and hillbilly

but it made me miss the old TV shows that broadcast into my father’s den every Saturday afternoon and we all quit what we were doing

to watch Lester & Earl and Teddy & Doyle & Loretta and Porter & Pretty Miss Norma Jean & later Dolly and my daddy would holler

into the kitchen for my mother to come out to the den and look here at Ole Possum or Charley Pride or Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper

singing Walking My Lord Up Calvary’s Hill and when the credits rolled on the Wilburn Brothers Show Loretta would kick off her shoes

and dance that Squaw Dance in her stocking feet and I tell you I lived for that on Saturdays until one time in 1973 Daddy stood up from his [End Page 31]

TV watching chair and yelled for all of us to come running quick and watch this little feller picking the mandolin with Lester

Flatt’s new band on Porter Wagoner’s show and we grouped around the Zenith and gaped at Marty Stuart’s wizardry and I fell dead

in love with him that very moment and now here we are 40 years later and he’s reinvented that template of old country music TV shows

with an opening hit, a comic, a guest or two, the girl singer, and hymn time and invites all his old friends and shepherds the young unknowns

the way Lester still shepherds him and they all play at his annual late night jam and this year fireworks blazed above the Ryman before we went

into the show and Marty stood on stage three straight hours in his black frock coat nodding his wild shock of hair back and forth and tapping

his boot and then he brought out his mommy and made her tell all about her new book of photographs and before we knew it the Mavericks [End Page 32]

were burning down the house with All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down then Marty asks Raul Malo to sing a birthday song to Manuel the glitter

tailor who is also on stage because Marty honors all parts of country music even costumes and Raul sings Don Gibson’s I’d Be a Legend

in My Time and I cry even harder because once when I was a kid we saw Don Gibson in the K-Mart when he lived in Knoxville in a beat up trailer

on Clinton Highway and had seen better days but Mother had all his records and then when I think I can’t cry any more Marty says they are all going

upstairs after the show to shake and howdy with anyone who wants to meet them and have their picture made and sometimes it’s 4 a.m.

before they can leave...


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