The other day I was trolling the Web looking for new music, when I stumbled across one of Nashville’s latest offerings-a new country disc by John Corbett. Name sound familiar? He ‘s the actor who played the husband in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and also had a standing part on the long-running sitcom Northern Exposure. Apparently now he’s a bubblegum renegade, singing tunes called “Bottle of Whiskey” and “Simple Man” (no, not the Skynard tune). Yup, it appears his agent got him into a studio, so he could wow Opryland with another homogenized line like, “That’s another kind of heartache that you put me through. It’s gonna take another bottle of whiskey to talk about you.”
I hate to diss a fellow Appalachian brother, as Corbett originally hails from West Virginia, but coming across this got me thinking about other musical abominations that have come at the hands of mainstream Hollywood actors. Corbett is not the only maverick-come-lately that can escape the bar fight in a limo. Martial arts maestro Steven Seagal is currently touring behind material from his latest album “Mojo Priest,” featuring the hit single “Alligator Ass.” And who can forget Bruce Willis’ attempt at becoming the next Blues Brother with “The Return of Bruno,” complete with a soul-shaking cover of “Respect Yourself?” And then there was Eddie Murphy, the raw man himself using some celebrity friends to go all Bell Biv DeVoe on us with 1994’s “Love’s Alright,” which included the prolific Michael Jackson-assisted “Whatsupwitu.” These musical sins seem like an abuse of power-one that I had hoped long ago would never resurface.
Ironically when it’s the other way around and musicians turn to acting, the switch seems to work better. Ice Cube was once a hip-hop powerhouse. Now he’s cult favorite actor (Friday, Boyz n’ the Hood) turned kiddy movie mainstreamer. Lyle Lovett rocked albeit quietly in The Player. Huey Lewis is holding a job on Broadway as the lead in Chicago. Even Eminem made acting look fairly easy.
But back to Corbett. Although his recorded work sounds a little plastic, maybe he’s taking his effort a little more serious than his colleagues. He’s currently in the middle of a 70-show touring schedule in 2006, hanging up his thespian suite for the time being to play places like the Steel Penny in San Angelo, Texas, and the Jefferson City Fait in Hillsboro, Missouri. Heck, you gotta give him credit for exploring the underbelly. See for yourself at Swallow in the Hallow in Roswell, Ga., on August 18 and 19.