Aw shucks, folks. It finally happened. Wynn Varble got cut on CMT's Next Superstar. The lovably goofy songwriter, who managed to inject humor into even the most serious episodes of the show ("Hump You" at Fort Campbell, anyone?), sang for survival last Friday and ultimately was asked to leave the show.
This event actually overshadowed pretty much everything that happened on the episode--despite a charitable challenge involving working with a food bank and playing for its volunteers, the extinguishing of Varble managed to make even me kind of forget what else happened during the segment. Such is the magnitude of the 50-year-old's personality. It just won't be the same without Wynn!
Varble isn't letting any grass grow under his feet after his elimination, however. When I called him this week to discuss the show, he was busy in the studio (Varble has a well-established songwriting career--some of the hits he's worked on include "Waitin' On A Woman" by Brad Paisley, "A Little More Country Than That" by Easton Corbin, and "Have You Forgotten" by Darryl Worley). He even told me that Superstar producer Simon Lythgoe may have a new series up his sleeve, to be called Wynn's World. I don't know about you, but I think I'll be watching that one if it comes to air!
As you might expect, Varble was a super-pleasant guy to talk to--southern-drawlin', quick-witted, and genuinely friendly. It's easy to see why he was so popular on the show. He really seems like the kind of person you'd want to invite home for dinner with the family.
Our Country: I think your elimination this week was a big surprise--you were a fan favorite and lots of folks thought you had what it took to go all the way. What are your thoughts on getting cut?
Wynn Varble: I wasn't surprised at all. I figured it was long overdue! To be honest with you, I thought Courtney should have stayed when she went home the week before.
OC: Yes, you did say that, on air actually.
WV: When you get down to four or five folks, you know, it gets tough. There's a lot of talent.
OC: Did you go into the show with the intent of being "the funny guy"? Or did you find that got played up more and more as weeks went on?
WV: That is my personality. I write a lot of funny songs. The friend of mine who talked me into going on the show--he said people would really enjoy hearing them. So I agreed to do it, and I went on and had a good time.
OC: Yeah, I was actually wondering what drove you to join the show. You have a pretty darn successful career as a hit songwriter already.
WV: It was one of those things where, when he first brought it up, I was like, no way. I knew I'd be the old guy on there. And I just didn't really want to be away from home that long. But he said "Man, people need to hear those funny songs." So, I just went ahead and did it. And after I did it was glad. It was a lot of fun.
OC: You managed to be humorous even during the most serious episodes.
WV: As a songwriter, my first inclination is to write something that's going to tug on a bunch of people's heartstrings. But people like to smile, even if it's a serious situation. I was just keeping everyone from slitting their wrists, so to speak.
OC: Having come pretty far in the series--what was your favorite challenge? Which one was the hardest for you?
WV: Fort Campbell was probably my favorite--I have such utmost respect for those who serve our country. My Daddy served in Pacific WWII and my brother in Vietnam. Lot of respect for them guys. So that was the funnest for me. It was up and down, but mostly up for me.
But the hardest. I think either the first one or the last one. The first one, I don't know nothin' about pop music and I had to pick a pop song--do all that stuff. And the last one...I think I slept an hour on that bus that night, and we were up all the next day.
OC: So you all weren't exaggerating when you called that tour bus a "rat trap," eh?
WV: It wasn't that it wasn't clean. I can deal with that. I'm not the neatest person either. But those exhaust fumes...I was scared to go to sleep. I was scared I wouldn't wake up!
OC: Given that you have worked with so many big artists, I was curious to get your take on who you thought was the best celebrity guest judge on the show.
WV: That's a good question. I think Trace Adkins gave pretty good advice. He put it pretty plainly when he said "don't suck." I'm glad I didn't have to sing that night when he was judging. Actually, he told me when he saw me down in the crowd: "Hey Varble, good thing you ain't singing tonight, because I'd have to fire your a--." (Laughs.)
Don't forget--I'll have an exclusive interview with the next eliminated hopeful next week!
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