Saturday, February 09, 2013

GOLLY…gayly…Jim Nabors Gets Married but "You Can't Roller Skate…"

In some of these United States, two homosexuals can now get married. BUT…even if you're gay…remember this: "You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd…"

And so Jim Nabors, gay bachelor no more, a groom (or was he the bride) at age 82, is honored here via some of the goofy songs he sang in his character of Gomer Pyle, USMC. (You were expecting his serious stuff?? Here????) And yes, it includes a Gomer-cover of a Roger Miller novelty.

While few in their right mind, over the age of 12, and living somewhere not teeming with perpetual chiggers, is still watching "Gomer Pyle," it's hard to forget that show, or the one that spawned it. There are still very somber and devoted fans of "The Andy Griffith Show" out there, who find mighty powerful lessons in life from not just Sheriff Taylor and Opie, but even in the day-to-day struggles of dim-witted but kindly Gomer.

Nabors not only became a star during the Great Rural Sitcom Scare of the 60's (which included "Beverly Hillbillies" and its spinoffs "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres,") he also won praise as a straight (pardon the expression) singer. Some folks even chose his albums before the latest Sandler & Young or Robert Goulet, and he surpassed the success of Frank Fontaine (who, as "Crazy Guggenheim" with Jackie Gleason a few years earlier, dazzled MOR music lovers by speaking in a cretinous voice for comedy and then singing in a sincerely gooey baritone to show his serious side).

In the late 60's and early 70's, Nabors was still welcome on TV thanks to his humility and down-home way with either a joke or a song. He had his own variety series for a while, and guested on other shows of the day. Then the day passed, and he wisely devoted more time to business pursuits (running a macademia nut farm in Hawaii) than trying to release a new album, or get more than a few months of concerts in places besides Branson, Missouri.

As to why he got married now? Probably business as well as pleasure. You want to make sure that when you're gone, your partner inherits. Jim told a local Hawaiian newspaper reporter, "I'm 82 and he's in his 60s and so we've been together for 38 years and I'm not ashamed of people knowing, it's just…I'm not an activist. I'm not a debater." He was just a guy who found himself attracted to other guys, and happened to have a show biz career. Not everybody is good at giving radical speeches and marching in parades, and really, if you're a militant homosexual wanting everyone out of the closet and protesting, you'd be calling on an Anderson Cooper before shoving the microphone at a shy guy famous for saying "Shazam" over 40 years ago.

Oh yes. The early "marriage" rumor about Nabors and Rock Hudson. After this silly story became too big to be ignored, Hudson spoke out. Rightly convinced that his career (and new series "McMillan and WIFE") could be jeopardized, he used his comic finesse to explain that he hardly knew Nabors, and that the whole thing started as a prank. He blamed a campy pair of "middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach, which is just down the coast…every year (they) give a party, 500 people or so…To make it amusing they will say "You're cordially invited…" and come up with some ridiculous shock attraction. And one year it was "the wedding reception of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors." Hudson suggested any unlikely combination of two males stars could've been chosen at random.

Congrats to Jim Nabors on the real marriage. Below, no, not the "serious" singing, weird as it is (well, maybe not if compared to Bob Dylan somehow emoting "Nashville Skyline" in his own gooey "new" voice). You get four cuts of Jim singing as Gomer Pyle, which probably was not as easy as it sounds. One number is actually a narration (a popular form of C&W sentimentality) titled "Old Blue," and about a beloved dog (a fucking country obsession right up there with alcohol and marrying an underage cousin). Two songs written by Dave Gates to exploit the Gomer character ("Shazam" and "Gomer Says Hey") are here, too. As for the cover of Roger Miller, Jim enunciates it so well, you almost can understand every word. On the original, Roger sounded like he was singing "you can't chase phlegm with a kid on your back." But it's "change film." A reference to a long forgotten TV commercial. Gomer Pyle long forgotten? No, once you've seen or heard Gomer Pyle, it's hard to forget.


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