Oh, the cross one must bear to be Pat Boone's publicist. The "legendary"–or, more appropriately, infamous–performer is currently celebrating his 50th anniversary of co-opting other people's music for conservative white America. He's got new albums that boggle the mind not only for their awfulness, but also because of the contributions from artists who really should know better.
For example, his upcoming We Are Family, due out next spring, "will be a twist on the Frank Sinatra Duets concept"–of course, Pat Boone's never had an original thought in his life–and will feature R&B; classics with the likes of Smokey Robinson ("Tears Of A Clown"), Kool & The Gang ("Celebration"), Sam Moore ("Soul Man"–soul man? Pat Boone?), James Brown ("Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"), and perhaps the most mind-blowingly terrible idea of them all, a rap song written by Boone and performed with Kool Moe Dee. And that's just a partial list of collaborators.
Can these performers really need money that badly? How can they possibly collaborate with a man who existed solely to make black music acceptable for white people? Sure, Elvis did something similar by popularizing rock 'n' roll, but Elvis actually created originals ("Hound Dog" notwithstanding) and scared the hell out of conservative America in the process. When Boone debuted in 1955 with a cover of Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame," he and his handlers were catering to the racism of the time.
This year, Boone has apparently released three albums, which would be impressive if a) They were all original songs, and b) He didn't represent all that's evil. People who found Toby Keith's
Unleashed too subtle might want to pick up Boone's 2002 album (re-released this year with a DVD) American Glory, which featured these hits, among many others:
"The Marine's Hymn"
"This Is My Country"
"Killing Of An Arab"**
"There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere"
"The United States Air Force"
Also new this year: Ready To Rock, a country album that features another batch of unintentionally hilarious songs, "NASCAR Time" ("Pat's tribute to America's favorite pastime and all its major racetracks, at which Pat has made several appearances this year alone," says the press release) and "Thank You, Billy Graham" ("a star-studded homage to America's pastor"). The latter features "contributions from" Bono, Leann Rimes, Michael McDonald, Andre Crouch, and, of course, Larry King.
The upside of all this? Boone's ostensibly retiring after
We Are Family, calling it "my big finale, a musical fireworks display." It's a shame, really, robbing the world of a human punch line. Seriously, who could have possibly thought his 1997 album of metal covers, In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy was a good idea? (Featuring what AllMusic called "musical abominations" like "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," "Panama," "Enter Sandman," "Crazy Train," "Stairway To Heaven," among others).
A couple months back, I wrote about Vanilla Ice celebrating his 15th year of not getting it, but Pat Boone makes Vanilla Ice look like Tupac Shakur. No amount of PR spinning or bizarre collaborations can change how the history books will (and do) judge Boone's music. As the saying goes, you can't polish a turd.
Nathan Rabin interviewed Pat Boone for The A.V. Club. Read it here.