This much I know Paul Jones

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Upfront - In con­ver­sa­tion with Hi­lary Fen­nell

I was en­cour­aged to sing from an early age – my mother played the piano and my father sang – and they dis­cov­ered that I had a boy so­prano voice. I joined the lo­cal cathe­dral choir and loved mu­sic but it was only a hobby un­til I was a stu­dent at Ox­ford Univer­sity.

Back then, there was a lot of personal ex­pense in­volved in go­ing to univer­sity and my father took up that ex­pense. In re­turn, he wanted a suc­cess­ful young man.

When I dropped out of Ox­ford he was a bit cross. When I told him I was go­ing to be a poet he gave me a five pound note and sug­gested I make my own way in the world.

In 1962 Brian Jones asked me if I’d like to be the singer in his new band. He told me he was go­ing to be­come rich and fa­mous and asked me if I’d care to be­come rich and fa­mous too. I thought it was a fan­tasy and said no thanks as I be­lieved he was be­ing wildly op­ti­mistic to think he could make any kind of liv­ing from play­ing mu­sic. He got Mick Jagger to say yes in­stead. The next band that asked me to join them was Man­fred Man. This time I said yes when I got the call.

The best ad­vice I ever re­ceived is ‘don’t try to be any­one else’.

The trait I most ad­mire in other peo­ple is dogged­ness and de­ter­mi­na­tion and a re­fusal to give up.

My idea of mis­ery is hav­ing to sur­vive with­out mak­ing my mu­sic and

my ra­dio pro­grammes.

My idea of bliss is be­ing mar­ried to my wife Fiona Hend­ley. We met when we were both work­ing at The Na­tional The­atre. I’d been asked to do my first mu­si­cal ever, The Beg­gar’s Opera. The at­trac­tion was in­stant for me, it took her a lit­tle longer…

I don’t be­lieve in fate or any­thing called luck. I be­lieve in God and I be­lieve that he di­rects and or­gan­ises the foot­steps of the right­eous.

I had a late con­ver­sion. I was brought up as a Christian but re­belled from the age of 14 to 40 odd.

I al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated art and one day when I was look­ing at a paint­ing by Cas­par Friedrich, the spir­i­tu­al­ity in his work con­vinced me that there was a sphere of life I was deny­ing. Then I thought, if I can recog­nise the spir­i­tu­al­ity in his work then it must be in me too and I was con­fronted by this whole new realm. It was around the time when I was fall­ing in love with my wife and she was go­ing through some­thing sim­i­lar.

My big­gest chal­lenge has been em­brac­ing Chris­tian­ity, be­cause I’d spent so long be­ing a noisy and mouthy athe­ist I knew I was in for some hu­mil­i­a­tion.

I was never ter­ri­bly good at sex and drugs and rock n roll.

When I went to the pas­tor of our church and told him I was go­ing to

give up show busi­ness and be­come a li­brar­ian or some­thing, he said mmm, don’t you think God would have been able to get a li­brar­ian on board if he’d wanted one of those? His ad­vice was for me to carry on with what I was do­ing, but to do it dif­fer­ently. The thing about show­biz is that it can fall into the ‘me me me’ cat­e­gory. The great lib­er­at­ing thing for me about be­com­ing a Christian was to dis­cover ev­ery­thing is in the hands of God.

Prayer is con­stant in our lives. The won­der­ful thing is that it works, as long as it is sin­cere.

The thing that annoys me most about other peo­ple is when they dis­agree with me.

My worst fault is pro­cras­ti­na­tion.

I have two grown up sons from a pre­vi­ous marriage. I love them very much.

When I’m not work­ing, I en­joy lis­ten­ing to all types of mu­sic and spend hours walk­ing in the beau­ti­ful Sur­rey coun­try­side close to our home.

The lesson so far has been that you can­not change other peo­ple, but you just might be able to change your­self.

Paul Jones re­turns with The Man­freds to Vicar Street on Septem­ber 6 and Cork Opera House on Septem­ber 7

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