The next question I had for Jon was one where I wasn’t even sure I knew where I was going with it, and he seemed to pick up on that as I started to backtrack a little. I’ll admit, with a 13 year old son and 10 year old daughter, having character is something we talk about here. Jon had said in that same interview that to him an American Idol was someone who had a character that was worth idolizing. Yet, his first song on his new CD is Boy Next Door, where he sings about not being the boy next door. So was someone that was not the boy next door still someone to idolize?
Jon asked if I was asking if he thought he was to be idolized, and I guess I was in a way, but in a way not. Perhaps I was trying to figure out where his particular belief system lie. He didn’t think he was ever saying in the beginning that he had that type of character worth idolizing. But he still feels that about what an idol should be, whether or not he has character. It’s not for him to say, though, whether or not he has a character worth idolizing.
I brought up Fantasia, the winner of his season of American Idol. Many people had criticized her as an unwed mother, wondering if she should be idolized, but I always thought yes, as she was trying to achieve a better life for herself and her child. Jon said the idea of not idolizing someone because they have skeletons in their closet was somewhat faulty. He went on to talk about the country being founded in a Christian mentality with Christian morals, giving credence to the idea of redemption. He feels it’s hypocritical to think someone who’s made a mistake isn’t worth idolizing.
This led me to asking something I had read on a message board about Jon’s latest album. The lyrics include the word “whore” more than once, and people have questioned that. Jon feels people are then way over-analyzing the songs too much. There’s no literal connection to him singing “whore” and the way he conducts his life. Boy Next Door and Man From Amsterdam are the two songs in question, and he didn’t even write those songs. His song-writing collaborator wrote them both. Boy Next Door came out of a conversation Jon had had with him about people thinking they had him figured out as some boy next door type, yet that wasn’t necessarily true. The song evolved over a week’s time, and he really liked it. With Man From Amsterdam, it had been written a long time ago, and Jon tweaked it a little, and it worked for him. Going back to the original conversation, he thinks people need to remember it’s a singing contest, and not a contest of character.
The next question was one for my son. He wanted to know about Jon and the pen salesman thing, so I asked if either Bic or Papermate had ever made him an offer to film commercials. Jon said Bic had sent him a bunch of pens with his name on them, and if he had kept that relationship alive, he’s sure something would have come of it. He didn’t really care one way or another about that image. Jon didn’t try to get away from it, and knew by the end, people would eventually get out of it knowing who he was.
There was one more thing I wanted to know. Having always been a huge Van Morrison fan, and knowing Jon was as well, I questioned what his favorite Van Morrison tune was. It seemed to stump him for awhile, and he admitted to pulling up iTunes while we were talking to look at song titles to better answer it. He said it was so hard to decide, and I told him I understood. Personally, I like different Van Morrison songs at different times, whether it’s Brown-Eyed Girl, Bright Side of the Road or anything out of Hymns to the Silence or Enlightenment. Jon likes all the bigger hits like Moondance, but he really likes the performance of Caravan, as Van Morrison isn’t really a rock and roll singer, yet performing this he was extremely drunk and got on stage and just did it. I asked whether it was the words or music he liked, and he thought both.
I could have sat and talked to Jon forever, but I let him go at this point. I was always so nervous doing phone interviews before, but oddly, despite being such a fan of his, I wasn’t this time. During the whole interview I was so at ease, and almost felt like I was sitting there chatting with an old friend. There were even a few times I forgot I should be taking notes and just … talked. Usually publicists connect me with the interviewee, but it was Jon who called himself. I answered the phone and heard, “Hi Laura. This is Jon Peter Lewis.” It has to be his nature that made me so at ease. I heard some of Jon’s stories today, and listening to Stories From Hollywood, you can hear even more.
Email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com if you want to talk about Jon, American Idol, the show, the music, or your own stories.