With one more look at Jack Jones
- Ricky Lo () - September 19, 2010 - 12:00am

BEVERLY HILLS, California — “Do you want to do an exclusive phone interview with Jack Jones?” Do I want to do an exclusive phone interview with the Jack Jones? I repeated the question of Renen de Guia whose Ovation Productions is mounting the Jack Jones Greatest Hits Tour concert at the Araneta Coliseum on Oct. 16. “Of course, I do,” I told Renen.

But there was a little problem. I was going to L.A. to interview the stars of Resident Evil: Afterlife (now showing nationwide), including Milla Jovovich, Wentworth Miller and Ali Larter, and the date set for the Jack Jones interview kinda overlapped with the Resident Evil schedule.

“No problem,” said Renen. “Give me the phone number at your hotel and Jack will be the one to call you. He’s also in L.A.”


Then there was some miscommunication. Jack was supposed to call me at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday, just before I would rush to a Four Seasons function room for the Resident Evil TV one-on-one. The night before, Jack’s manager reminded me about the foner. No call came the next day. I texted Renen who said he would inform Jack about it.

Back at my Four Seasons room that Saturday evening, I got a call. It was from Jack who was profuse with apology, blaming his manager for the bungled foner. Jack said that he had just gone home from a dinner with his visiting in-laws and after having had some wine, he wouldn’t be fine for an interview. “Would tomorrow morning be okay with you?” he asked. I said, “My pleasure, my honor.”

Before he hung up, he apologized again, saying that he never forgot to keep an appointment, again blaming his manager. “She will pay dearly for this.” I said, “Oh no, it’s my fault. I think there was a miscommunication. I flew 12 hours from Manila Friday night and I was jet-lagged. Please don’t take your manager to task.”

At exactly 9:30 Sunday morning, the phone in my room rang. It was Jack himself calling.

I didn’t ask how old he is now because I think age doesn’t matter but only how a singer sounds, even if I was aware that Jack has been in the business for 52 years not only as a singer but also as an actor. He has been in Manila several times and I began the Q&A by asking him about his previous visits.

Who are your friends in Manila that you remember from way back?

“There’s Jorge Araneta who is my good friend. You must know Elvira Manahan (He pronounced it with accent on the first syllable. – RFL) She was that crazy, wonderful character in Manila who is long gone now. What a lovely lady! We’re all good friends. I used to go to Manila a lot.”

What are your memories of Manila?

“I always have had a wonderful, wonderful time there. I’ve played at the Araneta Coliseum, at the Folk Arts Theater and many ballrooms. My Filipino friends have always treated me extremely well. My greatest memory was going on a boat trip with Jorge to an island where we were serenaded by the residents. The little island had no electricity in those days. They inhabitant were just listening to my music on transistor radios and they knew all my songs. Jorge put an electric piano at the back of the boat. After dinner, we were surrounded by inhabitants riding in canoes. We had a microphone. They serenaded me with their songs and I serenaded them with one of my own. They wanted to hear What I Did For Love. It was just a wonderful and warm and loving experience.”

Any more Filipino friends?

“There are so many of them. I can’t think of names but I will remember who they are if they say ‘Hello’ to them when I go there. I’m looking forward to seeing them again.”

After your concert on Oct. 16, are you staying maybe for a few days to visit more places and to renew friendships?

“I want to stay just a couple of days and show my wife around. Then, I have to go to New York and start rehearsing for a show.”

We are so eager to hear you sing your love songs once again. Will you please give us a brief backgrounder of some of your songs? First, The Lorelei.

“You know, when I first went to Manila I had no idea that The Lorelei was a hit there. It wasn’t a hit anywhere else. When I was asked to sing it, I said, ‘No, I don’t sing that.’ And everybody kind of just froze. My drummer took me aside and told me, ‘No, you don’t understand. That’s why you’re here.’ So we took the record and learned it and scratched it out on paper and put it on the show. I was told, ‘If you don’t sing it here, something that happened to Harry Belafonte might happen to you.’ I asked, ‘What happened to Harry Belafonte?’ They said, ‘Well, Harry didn’t do Matilda, so the audience rose in protest.’ So I sang The Lorelei.”

If you don’t sing The Lorelei, we will rise in protest.

“Yes, I will sing it.”

In fact, there was a Filipino movie called Lorelei, starring a beauty queen from Finland (Johanna Raunio finished a runner-up to Miss Spain Amparo Muñoz at the 1974 Miss Universe pageant held here, with Raul Roa as leading man), which is the story about a mermaid who falls in love with a human.

“Oh, is that so?”

What about If You Go Away?

“I haven’t done If You Go Away for many years. It’s Rod McKuen and it has some of the most poignant lyrics.”

And If You Ever Leave Me.

“Yeah, it’s a nice song; it’s a given.”

What about People?

“It’s a beautiful song. I love it.”

And What I Did For Love?

“I did that for the first time on the Golden Globe Awards.”

And Dio Como Te Amo?

“I keep bringing that song back on my shows and people just love it. It’s a tremendous song and I’m sure it will get a warm response during my concert in Manila.”

I noticed that the prevailing theme of your songs is lost love and dying love, such as What I Did For Love, With One More Look at You, If You Go Away, If You Ever Leave Me, Where Love Has Gone, Without Her, That Was My Love and many more. Why so?

“I think it’s just coincidence, not deliberate. It’s more touching when you sing about lost love and falling out of love, isn’t it?

Have you ever been heart-broken like everybody else?

“Oh yes, I have been. I’m not an exception. I’m just human, too, you know. On my new CD, I included a well-known song called Where Do You Start? which is about two people who have broken up and they have to divide all their belongings. It’s a very emotional performance.”

Your dad, Allan Jones, was a romantic lead actor and a recording artist and your mom, Irene Harvey, was an actress. Didn’t you have any alternative but to follow in the footsteps of your parents? Didn’t you have any other ambition?

“No. Singing is all I want to do. It’s unfortunate because I have a daughter who’s 19 but she’s not sure what she wants to do in life. I remember that back then, at that age I knew exactly what I wanted. I was focused on one thing. Also on my new CD is the song called What Matters Most which says that ‘what matters most is that we loved at all’ and the video shows me as a little boy with my parents together. It’s quite something. It’s a whole pictorial of my family. The video ends with my marriage.”

How many siblings do you have and how many of them are in the same career?

“I have a half brother and a half sister, both older than I am. Neither of them is in the same profession as I am. My daughter has sung with me many times, one of them during the Jerry Lewis Telethon but she has decided that she wanted to do something else.”

What about your other children?

“My oldest daughter, who’s 45, is an artist. I have only two.”

Do you listen to the new breed of singers? Who do you like among the new singers? Music today is different from music then.

“Jason Mraz is one that I like. He’s a very good singer and very creative. There’s quite a few good singers, yes. I’m not fond of the Lady Gagas; it’s all show.”

You’ve been performing in the Philippines several times. Haven’t you tried singing a Filipino song?

“Not on record. When I was over there, I tried singing one Filipino song. I don’t remember what the title was but I heard it from the inhabitants of that little island that Jorge and I visited.”

It could be Dahil Sa’yo, which is the favorite song of former First Lady Imelda Marcos and very popular around the world.

“I know Imelda. I remember her being in the audience in one of my shows there.”

Did she sing along with you? She’s fond of singing.

“I think she did. I’m not sure.”

How do you preserve your voice?

“I’m very fortunate that I don’t smoke. My voice is doing great and in some ways I can do things that I couldn’t do years ago.”

Like what?

“Like having more depth and I can hold a note longer than anybody, I guess. It’s just everything is working for me better now. I can do lower notes and higher notes. I don’t know why but I can do it.”

How’s your life now?

“My life is good. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for about a year. She’s in that video for What Matters Most.”

If you were to woo a woman with one of your songs, what would it be?

“Probably Lollipops and Roses because it says how you take care of a woman. It’s probably why it was my first hit because it’s very appealing to women to hear that.”

Any favorite line from that song?

“Oh…One day she’ll smile, next day she’ll cry; minute to minute you never know why. Bring her nice things, sugar and spice things; roses and lollipops, and lollipops and roses.”

(Note: The Philippine STAR is among the sponsors of the Jack Jones Greatest Hits Tour concert, together with Imarflex, ETC Entertainment Channel, 2nd Avenue, Hallmark Channel, EDSA Shangri-La Manila, Mercedes Benz, RJ 100.3 FM and ABS-CBN; also supported by Manila Bulletin, BusinessWorld, 97.9 Home Radio, 90.7 Love Radio, 96.3 Easy Rock, DWBR 104.3, 105.1 Crossover and OptimaSignsolutions. Tickets are priced at P4,500, P4,000, P3,500, P2,500, P1,000 and P500. Check out all SM outlets and the Araneta Coliseum ticket office. Or call Ticketnet at 911-5555.)

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com)

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