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Marty Stuart: 5 Great Western Songs

Country-music scholar, whose new album is the trippy ‘Way Out West,’ picks songs by the Byrds and Marty Robbins

My List: Marty Stuart

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Having just released Way Out West, a tribute to California’s influence on country music, Marty Stuart reflects on the artists who were masters of Western desert music. Stuart hosts his annual Late Night Jam on June 7th at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. 

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The Ventures, “Out of Limits”

There’s a real connection between a garage-rock instrumental like this and the world of country music, like Merle Haggard and the Strangers. The twang is the common denominator.

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Richard Bennett, “Riviera”

Richard rescued Nashville from the urban-cowboy bullshit. You could make an entire movie out of this song. It’s beautiful.

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The Byrds, “Chestnut Mare”

I play Clarence White’s actual guitar, which is the central guitar on this record. This song is cinematic, always one of my favorites.

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Marty Robbins, “El Paso”

This song tied the West with the East, the North and the South. It had no barriers. It’s a stunning piece of writing. There’s not a stray word.

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Sons of the Pioneers, “Cool Water”

The harmony structure here was divinely ordered, in my mind. It sounds like angels singing in the desert. As good as it gets.