Bill Gibson and I got off on the wrong foot.
I’m glad we did.
In August I published a column on my website about going to my first Huey Lewis and the News concert, which I had just attended with my girlfriend at Harrah’s Rincon Casino in Valley Center, Calif. Let it be known: I am no music expert. Anyone who has seen my epic collection of Jimmy Buffett albums is very aware of this. I own two John Mayer albums, for God’s sake. I probably should not be allowed to listen to music based on those two facts, and now I feel obligated to mention that the No. 14 most-played song on my iTunes is Miley Cyrus’s Party In The USA. If Apple came to my home tonight and asked for my iPod back, I would nod soberly and hand the thing over knowing that I am guilty of being everything that is wrong with America.
But I didn’t write a music review. I wrote about my personal experience at the Huey Lewis show, touching on the music, which was great, the venue, dumb concert rules, the new album, which I think will be great, and the band’s most popular song. Thinking that some fans out there might enjoy reading about a recent show, I tweeted a link to the column out into the Twitterverse. The tweet connected. A stranger posted a link to my story at HLN.org, the Huey Lewis and the News Wiki site. The initial comments were not kind. Here are a smattering. There were more.
“Bill”: Well, like he says, he’s not a professional music critic. Seems like there are a lot of these guys writing reviews these days, doesn’t it?
“Bill”: I must be old-fashioned. Or just plain old. Tell me about the show, not about your girlfriends camera or your sprint through the smoke-filled casino or your iPhone camera or the “Godfather” or posting photos on Facebook and Twitter.
“upstage”: pointless “review” by a guy who shouldn’t have been allowed to review a show he was prepared to hate. And the fact that he is so clearly in love with his own way with words, makes his review even less credible.
Note: I do not know who should not have “allowed” me to review the concert. The Mayor of the Internet? But “upstage” is right. I do love my way with words. I am a writer. Me not liking my way with words would be like Drew Brees not liking the way his passes make touchdowns.
“upstage”: I just think the author was pretentious and a bit obnoxious. He seemed more interested in pointing that he normally would hate Huey Lewis and the News (and trying to make justifications by poking fun at Huey’s remarks to the crowd) and make jokes about the horn section and the age of ladies in the crowd and their swooning over songs. I just found the guy to be obnoxious.
“Corporate Mom”: My thoughts on this write up – (1) The guy seemed to be writing about the entire experience, not just the band/set list, et like a professional music critic would (2) Personally – I think when you write a review (or whatever you call it) the majority of the write up should be about the band/music, et–I want to hear more about the band less about the surround (although some surround is good as it sets the stage -so to speak) (3) The guy was a bit rude with some of his comments regarding the age of the band/fans–not professional (4) Some of his supporters that posted on his site are morons. (5) He liked the show and he said they were good – it would have been nice to hear more about why he thinks their good
For the record, my readers are not morons. They have many character flaws: hubris, lack of hygiene, a penchant for banditry, etc., but lack of intelligence is not one of them.
The comments went on for about a week. They were not all attacks. Many HLN.org members rose to my defense. Eventually a consensus formed that I was not, in fact, a nitwit. Among my defenders, most notably, was “calgrad,” the HLN.org member who originally posted the link to my column. She personally expressed her disappointment regarding the comments. I told her it was no big deal. Which was true. It wasn’t. It’s the Internet. People say mean things all the time. I also told her that Ace of Base fans are much nastier. This is also true. I made a playful Ace of Base joke in a column a few years back and I received nasty e-mail from all over the world.
HLN.org member “calgrad” was not the only person on the message board to apologize. As the week of HLN.org’s discontent wore on, I learned that “Bill” was Bill Gibson, drummer for Huey Lewis and the News. (Pictured way at the top, with Lewis.) Gibson is an active member of the HLN.org message boards. Someone from HLN.org posted a comment on my site that said that Gibson did not like me.
I responded: “I am sorry to hear that. I dig the band’s music. I was just writing about my unique experience at this particular show. I am not qualified to write about music, but I am qualified to write about me. Please tell Mr. Gibson that if he wants to voice his displeasure, I will be happy to print whatever he has to say on my site. He can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Gibson left this comment on my website five days later:
“Joe – It’s nonsense that myself or HLN doesn’t like you. When I read your blog, I was mistaken in thinking it was a review. I didn’t realize it was your blog. I had no problem with what you wrote about the show, in fact I thought it was great. My problem was thinking I was reading a music critic’s review, so I stand corrected. Sorry for the confusion.”
You can read all four pages of the HLN.org string here.
I e-mailed Gibson to tell him that no apology was necessary and I asked him if he would agree to an interview with my site in order to mend fences and help publicize the new Huey Lewis and the News album Soulsville, which comes out Nov. 2. Gibson accepted. A few weeks later we arranged a phone call. Bill lives in Northern California. I live in Southern California — the only part of the country where no one looks at a man funny when he blasts Miley Cyrus at stoplights. We talked about Soulsville, the history of Huey Lewis and the News and how Gibson’s father influenced his musical career.
The interview was made possible thanks to “calgrad” posting that fateful link to HLN.org (thank you for all of your support), Gibson’s misunderstanding about my column, his unnecessary but classy apology, and the intense (if sometimes misdirected) passion of Huey Lewis and the News fans, who, I must emphasize, are nowhere near as intellectually bereft as Ace of Base fans, a group of people whose lack of taste is matched only by its lack of humor. (Here we go again.)
So, here’s to wrong feet.
Huey Lewis and the News fans, let’s try this again.
UPDATE: Seems I am back on the HLN.org forums. Read what they’re saying about me here.