Friends in High Places

Copyright 2002 Sun Media Corporation The Calgary Sun

December 30, 2002 Monday, Final Edition

SECTION: Entertainment; Pg. 46

LENGTH: 360 words


BODY: Not every band can say its latest single was co-written by Mick Jagger.

But pop-rock act Matchbox Twenty's new song, Disease, is credited to Jagger and frontman Rob Thomas.

Turns out they were originally working on the tune for Jagger's 2001 solo album, Goddess In The Doorway, but it didn't make the cut. And Jagger only ended up helping out, finishing the lyrics on the second verse. "I opened up Rolling Stone (magazine) once," explained explained Thomas, in a Toronto hotel room last month to promote the band's third album, More Than You Think You Are, "and there was an article saying we were nervous that we had Mick Jagger pen us a song. And I was like, 'That's not fair.' Like, nothing against Mick Jagger. He's a legend. But I did write the song and it was my song."

Once Matchbox Twenty finish the tour for their current album -- they begin in North America in the spring -- at least three members will pursue solo projects: Cook with his other band The New Left; drummer Paul Doucette; and Thomas, who's written songs and appeared on the albums of many other A-list artists including Carlos Santana, Willie Nelson and Marc Anthony.

Rhythm guitarist Adam Gaynor stressed there's been no animosity within the band since Thomas scored three Grammys for co-writting and singing on Santana's huge 1999 hit, Smooth.

"He's a great singer, but he's a songwriter and that's what he does. And it would be, like, 'Okay, so Rob, you have like seven months off now and you can't write any more songs.' That would be ridiculous. He happened to get into a wonderful situation with the Smooth thing. And that's like a blessing."

Thomas said the pinnacle of his songwriter-for-hire experiences so far was working on three songs for Nelson's album, The Great Divide, which came out earlier this year.

"Every gig is based on the pure joy of wanting to work with somebody that I've always admired," he said. "We're all going to get older. But only one of us is going to be Willie Nelson."

And, no, you don't get a contact high from Nelson, who likes his pot.

"No! I go straight to the source when I'm with Willie Nelson," said Thomas with a chuckle.