It’s Jim Nabors’ last year to sing “Back Home Again In Indiana,” the same song he has sung before the start of the Indianapolis 500 since 1972. I was 4 years old the first time he was here.
"I’m from Alabama," he told the journos jammed into the Economacki Press Room. "But after I sang that and got to know the city, I became a Hoosier through and through."
Nabors said the first time he sang — he came as a guest of his mentor, Bill Harrah — he thought he was going to sing the Star Spangled Banner. When he was talking with the director of the Purdue University band, he asked “what key are you doing this in?”
"Uh, we only have one key," said the director.
"But the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ has two keys," said Jim.
"You’re not singing the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ You’re singing ‘Back Home Again In Indiana. Do you know it?"
Jim said he didn’t know it so, with three minutes before he was supposed to start, he was writing the lyrics on his hand.
"No practice, no rehearsal, just as soon as I was done, they said, ‘GO!’"
Forty-two years later, Jim is singing the classic for the last time. Talk has already begun for who’s going to replace him next year, but there’s no time for that yet. Let’s just enjoy Nabors’ rich tenor one last time.