Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Pilgrim by Marty Stuart

I’ve always enjoyed concept albums, Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979) being an early influence. As someone who appreciates storytelling  I’m sure many of you do as well  when each song on a record forms a bigger narrative, it’s even more engaging than the standard album. Until a few weeks ago, I had never listened to Marty Stuart’s The Pilgrim (1999). Holy hell, what an unforgettable journey!

The conceptual premise is of a man known only as The Pilgrim who unknowingly falls in love with a married woman named Rita. When Rita’s husband Norman kills himself after discovering the affair, this propels a despondent Pilgrim on his wanderings. Apparently the album is based on a true story from Stuart’s hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

That being said, these country/bluegrass songs pop individually on their own, and "Sometimes the Pleasure's Worth the Pain" is a good example of that.

If that’s not enough to rope you in, maybe some of these legends who make cameos will: Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis, George Jones, Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash.

What are some of your favorite concept albums?


  1. My very favorite concept albums are Marty Robbins' 'Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs' and his 'More Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs'.

    Running a close second is Willie Nelson's 'Red-Headed Stranger' album.

    A few more that come to mind, and in no particular order, are:

    Queen's 'A Night at the Opera'
    Johnny Cash's 'Mean as Hell'
    Dean Martin's 'Sleep Warm'
    Barry Sadler's 'Ballad of the Green Berets'
    Alice Cooper's 'From the Inside'

  2. Concept albums can sometimes be amazing and other times a bust. However, even in the trying some great work gets out there. Doris

  3. David, this sounds like a great album. I never knew about Marty Stuart until I saw him appearing on different shows with other artists. Then he had a show of his own with guests. He toured with Travis Tritt for a while, too. Still, I have not ever bought any of his albums or really known that much about his individual recordings.

    My favorite concept album is Desperado by the Eagles. A Certain Kind of Fool is a wonderful parallel between the life of a musician and that of a gunfighter--so many parallels in these songs on this album--it's wonderful

  4. Fascinating. I kind of always assumed concept albums were mostly rock based. Never heard of a country concept album. Will definitely have to seek this one out.