Kacey Musgraves isn’t one to play things safe, but she plays the role to the hilt on a charming, bubbly new cover of “Kansas City Star” that will appear on the star-studded King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller album coming later in August.
Miller scored a Top Ten country hit in 1965 with “Kansas City Star,” an offbeat tale of a local television personality who passes up a better job in Omaha, Nebraska, for the comfort of being a children’s show celebrity. Musgraves adds her own flourishes to the kooky track, replacing “king” with “queen” and substituting Miller’s aw-shucks delivery for a healthy dose of sass, turning it into a kiss-off instead of a cower. She imitates Miller’s yodeling on the chorus, and adds a whistle solo, a bit of flamenco-style guitar, and some pedal steel that tips its Stetson hat to the players of Miller’s era.
Musgraves is one of a host of big-name country artists to be featured on King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller, with others including Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, and one of the final recordings from Merle Haggard before his death in 2016. The cast of performers isn’t limited to country, either, as Ringo Starr, Cake, and Huey Lewis all appear on the two-disc set, which comes out August 31st.
Miller, who died in 1992, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995.