How to Be a Country Star: A Lighthearted Look at Country Music Legends by The Statler Brothers

In the vast landscape of country music, The Statler Brothers stand as towering figures, their harmonies as rich and enduring as the American South itself. With their impeccable musicianship, heartfelt vocals, and infectious stage presence, they captivated audiences for decades, leaving an indelible mark on the genre. Among their many beloved songs, “How to Be a Country Star” holds a special place, offering a lighthearted yet insightful look at the world of country music and the qualities that make a true star.

Released in 1979, “How to Be a Country Star” is a tongue-in-cheek instructional manual, a playful guide to aspiring musicians seeking to make it in the industry. The Statler Brothers, with their characteristic wit and humor, weave a tapestry of references to country music legends, each verse highlighting a unique trait or talent that has contributed to their success.

The song opens with a nod to the iconic Waylon Jennings and Jerry Reed, emphasizing the importance of distinctive vocal styles and guitar prowess. It then pays homage to Jean Shepard’s yodeling, Tom T. Hall’s songwriting, Merle Haggard’s emotional depth, and Johnny Rodriguez’s Spanish flair. Each line is a testament to the diversity of talents that have shaped country music, acknowledging the contributions of both established stars and those who paved the way.

The second verse delves into the realm of performance and stage presence, drawing inspiration from Ronnie Milsap’s piano virtuosity, Mickey Gilley’s flamboyant persona, Jerry Lee Lewis’s wild energy, Roy Acuff’s yodeling prowess, Ralph Emery’s folksy charm, Conway Twitty’s powerful vocals, Buck Owens’s signature Bakersfield sound, and Webb Pierce’s smooth crooning. These references underscore the importance of captivating an audience, not just with musical talent but also with charisma and personality.

The Statler Brothers don’t shy away from poking fun at themselves in the third verse, playfully suggesting that height, jokes, stature, banjo skills, a backing band, a stutter, a cowboy hat, a powerful voice, wealth, and even a gimmick can all contribute to country music stardom. Their self-deprecating humor adds a layer of lightheartedness to the song, reminding listeners that the path to success is not always straightforward and that even the most unlikely qualities can find a place in the genre.

The final verse brings the song full circle, acknowledging the power of talent and perseverance, regardless of gender or appearance. With a wink and a smile, The Statler Brothers invite aspiring female musicians to seek them out, suggesting that their unique talents and perspectives are just as valuable in the country music world.

“How to Be a Country Star” is more than just a catchy tune; it’s a love letter to the genre, a celebration of the diverse talents and personalities that have made country music so enduring. The Statler Brothers, with their signature blend of humor, humility, and musical expertise, offer a timeless guide to the essence of country stardom, reminding us that it’s not just about the voice or the guitar but also about the heart, the soul, and the ability to connect with an audience on a deeply personal level.


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