Watching the media feeding frenzy these past few weeks over Samuel J. Wurzelbacher --aka Joe the Plumber--it seems fitting (and I don't mean pipe-fitting) to note that 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of pop artist Andy Warhol's oh-so prophetic quote that "In the future, everyone will be [world] famous for 15 minutes." And from the news breaking this week about the "branding" of Joe the Plumber, that 15 minutes may soon well stretch to at least somewhere between 40 and 48 minutes, which is the average length of a CD these days.
While he's spent the last six years making a living carrying a wrench, apparently Wurzelbacher is now thinking of maybe giving it a go carrying a tune, according to a management team that has just entered into an agreement with Wurzelbacher in the hopes of turning him into a Nashville star. While readily admitting that he isn't a "real" musician--Joe humbly notes that he just "knocks around on guitar"--Pathfinder Management president Jim Della Croce claims that Wurzelbacher can indeed sing, and that he's "A complicated guy with a very dynamic personality."
Whether Joe the Plumber can actually make his (lug) nut as a country crooner, of course, remains to be seen and heard--although given the track record of non-musicians suddenly getting in front of a microphone, that might prove fairly painful. After all, from William Hung to William Shatner, pop music history has at times, er, overflowed with the often ear-splitting, and just as often (unintentionally) hilarious results of such endeavors.
These "singers" come in all shapes and sizes, from folks with some talent in other areas, such as actors Bruce Willis
and Eddie Murphy,
or athletes like Shaquille O'Neal
and Terry Bradshaw,
to those with substantial lack of talent in other areas, like Paris Hilton.
Perhaps the greatest "bad" singer of all time, though, was Mrs. (Elva) Miller, whose astonishingly earnest tone deaf rendition of Petula Clark's "Downtown" in 1966 made the Midwestern matron an overnight sensation at age 59. Mrs. Miller's Greatest Hits featured her cheerily mangling everything from the Beatles' "A Hard Days Night" to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin.'"
That album actually made it all the way to the Top Twenty, and over four decades later it remains the "high" water mark in horrible vocalizing. And maybe he doesn't know much about singing, but Joe the Plumber should at least know a little bit about water seeking its own level.