News & Politics

The Lumineers Take Inspiration From a New Jersey Newspaper’s DC Columnist

"This is a very strange day," says Herb Jackson of the Bergen County Record.

Photograph via Facebook.

Herb Jackson, a Washington correspondent for the Record of Bergen County, New Jersey, did not expect to wake up Friday as one of the most instantly famous people from the Garden State. But he might be, thanks to a photograph posted to Facebook by The Lumineers, the folk-rock band based in Denver, which is very far from North Jersey.

“Not sure who this man is, but I taped it to my keyboard 10 years ago, and he has never left my side,” Lumineers pianist Jeremiah Fraites writes in the caption. “In the studio today and looking at him assures me creativity will flow. He’s the real secret to our success.”

“This is a very strange day,” Jackson tells Washingtonian in a phone interview. “Somebody saw it on Facebook and posted it to my timeline. I looked at it and said, ‘Oh, that’s odd.'”

Odder still is that Fraites claims to have no idea who Jackson is, even though he clearly cut out Jackson’s headshot including the names of both Jackson and the Record photographer who took the shot. It most likely came from an in-house advertisement for Jackson’s columns when he was working at the statehouse bureau in Trenton. Thing is, even though the Lumineers are firmly based out of the Rocky Mountains today, Fraites has little defense for not knowing Jackson’s byline: The band originiated in the borough of Ramsey (right next to Mahwah and two towns over from Ho-Ho-Kus), right in the heart of Bergen County.

Jackson, a longtime Trenton scribe, joined the Record in 1998 and transfered to the DC bureau in October 2005. He also uses a different headshot, though it is from the same photo session that yielded the picture that adorns Fraites’s keyboard. While he’s spent his career covering New Jersey’s governors, senators, and future presidential candidates, he’s not sure how his columnist photo provides inspiration for a chart-topping band.

“Maybe they write all their songs for bespectacled, mustachioed white guys,” he says.

Jackson says the only Lumineers song he’s familiar with is the same one most people know—the heavily promoted 2012 track “Ho Hey,” which he heard on a compilation CD published by Philadelphia-area radio station WXPN.

“I’m not music critic,” he says. “It seems like a good enough song. I think it’s hard to separate. Wasn’t it in a beer commercial?”

It was. Blue Moon used an instrumental version of “Ho Hey” for a 2012 ad. So did the trailer for Silver Linings Playbook.

As weird a day as he’s having, Jackson figures he might be able to leverage his sudden position as New Jersey’s most visible political journalist. (The Lumineers’ Facebook page has nearly 2.2 million followers.)

“Usually when things are flying around Twitter and Facebook about New Jersey they’re about Chris Christie,” Jackson says. “Now people are saying they have that photo poster-sized in their office. Iin fact, one of Christie’s media advisers says he has a framed copy. Maybe I’ll trade him an autographed copy for an exclusive on when Christie announces he’s running.”

But Jackson’s newfound fame comes with consequences: “My editor thinks this is a story now, too.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.