August 13, 2009 – by Carolyne Zinko for Sun Francisco Chronicle

Should we hold singer Jack Jones or songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David responsible?

“Hey, little girl/ Comb your hair, fix your makeup/ Soon he will open the door/ Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger/ You needn’t try anymore/ For wives should always be lovers too.”

So begins – by modern standards, anyway – what may be one of the most politically incorrect songs of all time, “Wives and Lovers.” But back in the day, it made Jones’ career, earning him a Grammy in 1964 (the first of two in his career). Jones, who for five decades has been among the biggest names in the world of romantic balladeering, is coming to Yoshi’s on Friday for a two-night stand. It was in San Francisco that he got a break in the 1950s – a three-week gig at Fack’s II, which led to his discovery by Kapp Records producer Pete King, who signed him to the label.

Jones, no sexist throwback, is a self-described “mushy guy” who likes expressing his tender side in song. The son of Hollywood crooner Allan Jones (“A Night at the Opera,” “Show Boat”) has recorded works by Sammy Cahn, Cole Porter and the Gershwins, and counts among his influences and heroes Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Tony Bennett. At 71, his voice is nimble and lush, his phrasing fluid.

Unlike Tom Jones, he’s not going to dabble in a country-western career, or try his hand at dance club mashups or remixes. He’s an unapologetic musical purist.

“I love analyzing what goes into making two people happy together,” Jones said in a phone chat from his home in La Quinta, near Palm Desert, this week. “I have a lot of experience in researching it.”

By that, he means several marriages, including his most recent, to former Bay Area resident Eleonora Peters Laub, an exercise pal of his ex-wife’s whom he married two months ago.

“There is something so cathartic about expressing it with music, with song,” Jones said. “There is something about expressing yourself that way that is good for the soul and for the upper respiratory system. And now, in the later years of my career, my voice is just there – knock on wood – and I don’t have to think about producing it. When I was young, my low notes were not there yet. I can do stuff with my voice now that I never could.”

Tail-end Baby Boomers may recognize him as the voice of the theme song to the 1970s ABC-TV show “The Love Boat.” Still younger fans are being made thanks to the Internet.

“We ran into two flight attendants from Lufthansa on their way back to the airport,” he said. “They said to my wife, who is German, ‘Who is that guy?’ and she said, ‘That’s my husband, a singer, Jack Jones.’ ‘Jack Jones?’ they said. ‘He’s on my iPod.’

“And then I heard from Sweden, from some guy who wrote in to my Web site,” Jones said. “He said he wasn’t a big fan, but he wanted to bring his son to see me at the Palladium in London because he’s a big fan. He was 17 years old!”

Now Jones’ biggest fear isn’t stage fright or boredom singing the same songs over and over again, but image in a culture celebrating celebrity and youth.

“I want to perform with a bag over my head,” he joked. “I don’t want to spoil the illusion, because they’ll see I’m an older guy. I used to curse people aiming a camera at me – unflattering angles, posted on YouTube. Now I can’t complain because it’s opened up a whole new market.”

Jack Jones performs at Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco, on Friday and Saturday. Shows at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets: $35; see for details.