Not like I would actually know, but it seems as though fame can be one helluva social common denominator. You may have noticed that often celebrities capriciously keep company with other celebrities at random, just because they’re celebrities, it seems. (Examples include Bill Clinton and Mick Jagger, Jay-Z and Frank Gehry, Joe Strummer and Robert De Niro, Axl Rose and Lana Del Rey or Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore but definitely not Radiohead and Miley Cyrus.) I suppose that makes sense. I mean, who else could better relate to the unique experience of being so ... celebrated?
Often times these cultural dignitaries will just meet up and shoot the breeze, celebrating one another, like on that Iconoclasts show on the Sundance Channel. Episodes feature such pairings as Renee Zellweger and Chistiane Amanpour, Deepak Chopra and Michael Myers (actor, not character) and Bill Maher and Clive Davis (where the former shows the latter his record collection). Personally, I like the one where Michael Stipe buys Mario Batali some dub and Neutral Milk Hotel records before the pair man-date it to a U2 concert in Canada. They take a private jet so that Stipe can get to Toronto in time to see Bono & Co. play his favorite song ... "Beautiful Day." Can YOU relate to that?
While many celeb-to-celeb encounters are innocuous enough — functioning simply as an elitist inside-baseball game of celebrated folks ingratiating themselves into new networking circles of fame and access — this sociological phenomenon has its sticky, sweaty, unfortunate underbelly. The horror comes when the social, backstage cross-pollination manifests its way into some kind of tangible, artistically misguided, post-modern monster for no-name observers like us to endure — or at best, mock, but certainly not enjoy in earnest.
Take for example last year’s whole Lou Reed and Metallica collaborative debacle. The seed for that confounding shit show was planted when the two aesthetically diametrically opposed hall-of-famers were paired to perform together at The Hall’s 25th Anniversary Concert in 2009, where they publicly sacrificed popular Velvet Underground favorites “Sweet Jane” and “White Light/White Heat” on an alter of poor taste, lacking common sense and offensive volume. Not since the infamous 1992 Bob Dylan-birthday-bash booing of Sinead O’Connor have the caverns of Madison Square Garden heard a sound so dreadful.
Here’s a fact to ponder: Loutallica’s Lulu LP is the single most direct contribution the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has ever made to the greater canon of rock albums — it’s the one album that would unequivocally not exist were it not for the institution playing eHarmony to the stars. Remember that the next time The Hall gives KISS and DEVO the golden middle finger.
… And that brings me to Hank Williams Jr. and Justin Timberlake — two iconic country boys just hangin’ out like hot BBQ sauce on bubblegum, just because they can. On the surface, unless you value the sanctity of blues music (more on that in a minute), there’s really no story here other than that Timbo took his business partner and best bud Trace Ayala, his mom Lynn Timberlake and his bride-to-be Jessica Biel to a Hank show in Southhaven, Ole Miss, last Friday, where they “took in a night of some ‘Rockin’ Randall’” and bro’d down with Bocephus in the front lounge of a tour bus. Justin drank from a Solo cup. But here no story is the story, as what I find mildly hilarious and even somewhat interesting about this news anti-item is that this meeting of the minds (to use a term loosely) was actually recounted in a press release and blasted out to the media. It should come as a surprise to no one in the know that the release was fired off from the office of controversial Music Row flak Kirt Webster, who handles PR for Williams.
If there was ever a boisterous own-foot-shooter in desperate need of a public image makeover, it’s Hank Williams Jr. As you undoubtedly recall, Bocephus made a hyperbolic, arguably racist and historically inept ass out of himself back in October when, while moonlighting as a lovably unlettered right-wing pundit on Fox News’ Fox and Friends, he likened President Obama to a Nazi Fuhrer, saying that Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner teaming up for 18 holes of bipartisan photo ops was akin to “Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.”
Stammerin’ Hank not only shocked the world by showing that he knows who Benjamin Netanyahu is (he’s the Prime Minister of Israel, for those of you who don’t know), Bo-Ham also lost himself that long-running, gajillion-dollar lucrative, absolutely-no-work-entailing gig of asking America if we're “ready for some football,” as he had done in pre-recorded fashion at the start of Monday Night Football broadcasts since 1989.
I suppose it’s worth noting that the NFL has had issues with both Timberlake and Williams threatening its fiercely guarded, family-friendly image — Timbo exposed the Superbowl viewing audience to millisecond-lasting shot of Janet Jackson’s tit and Bocephus compared Obama to Hitler — so I guess they have that in common. Although, according to the press release, its not what they shot shit about last Friday. The inbox filler quotes Williams as saying this about his time with Timberlake:
What a great guy! Justin is a friend of my rebel son Kid Rock. He sure is a good country boy. We talked about girls, guitars, turkey hunting, going on cruises and how much we hate them, even though Bobby (Kid Rock) is on one right now and loving it, ugh! Hell, Justin and I even talking about recording a blues song sometime.
So Timbo is already friends with Kid Rock. No surprise there. Rock is a stellar example of a star who’s built and maintained his brand on a foundation of clever, fellow-celebrity alliances that mask and, uh, Justify his relentless dynasty of mediocrity. And I thought Shelton was Williams' rebel son? Also, does Justin Timberlake really need Bocephus to sell America on his great-guy image? Or was that tainted by The Social Network? Wouldn’t a quote of Timberlake singing Williams’ praises make a little more sense? I mean, really, who’s got the longer coattails here? And let’s not forget where Williams’ quote goes from wholly whatever to downright holy-shit terrifying: When he hints at not just a potential collaboration between the two, but a blues collaboration. Blues? Beg pardon?! Will it be titled “Rock Your Randall”? Or perhaps “Cry Me a Tear in My Beer”? I shudder to think.
If Hank Williams Jr. thinks that Obama hittin’ the greens with John Boehner is tantamount to Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu, then I think Hank Williams Jr. singin’ the blues with Justin Timerlake is like George W. Bush dancing with Ricky Martin. Oh wait … that actually happened.
Anyway, if you’ve made it this far into this post then you’ve suffered enough. Here’s your reward: An artist’s mock up of a record sleeve for the Timbocephus blues release: