Representatives for Josh Groban contacted Rock Town Hall’s Back Office last night to complain about the unfair treatment they felt their client received in a recent post we ran on a performance by Groban from a tribute concert to Neil Young. In part, their note read:
Why Josh’s heartfelt tribute to one of his musical heroes, Neil Young, a close personal friend of the artist, we might add, with whom Groban has performed at the artist’s fundraiser for The Bridge school, was posted for your community’s mockery is beyond us. And what does Josh Groban have to do with Jim Nabors, who surely was or maybe still is a great man? What’s the Moderator’s beef with our client?
Fair enough. Let me explain. One evening in the mid-1980s, while my bandmates and I were grabbing a bite between soundcheck and showtime a black guy stopped me on the street and asked the following question—and I only specify the man’s race in hopes that the hurtful thing he had to say was a matter of a possible “All white people look alike” mentality:
“Has anyone ever told you you look like Jim Nabors?”
No one had ever suggested this before or since! I had no problems with comparisons to Andy Kaufman or even, as was published in a Philadelphia Inquirer story on our band for the tri-state area to see, a “cross between Barney Rubble and a young Gene Wilder.” I get my share of Gerard Depardieu comparisons, which is fine by me, even as he balloons at a more rapid pace than I can manage, threatening to sink the island of Elba, because the ladies dig Depardieu. But Jim Nabors? Never! Growing up I couldn’t bear to watch Gomer Pyle, and Nabors’ serious singing gigs on variety shows were an early education in SUCK. To think, I’d spent the first part of the ’80s culturing a modicum of cool. This complete stranger’s comment brought the entire facade tumbling down.
Fast-forward 20-some years, to a lunchtime chat with coworkers. Somehow Josh Groban came up; he’d probably appeared on an awards show. I bit my tongue, thinking that an innocent lunch with my great coworkers was no place for me to go on my “Modern-Day Jim Nabors” tirade. Beside, at best only 2 or 3 people in my office would have been old enough to have a clue about what I was getting at.
“He’s got great hair,” my delightful, white (I should mention) colleague said about Groban, looking my way in anticipation of tossing me a compliment. “He reminds me of you!”
So there, Concerned Representatives of Mr. Groban, is the complicated story behind my beef with your client.