The Gonz Show: Paula Cole

After a long hiatus, the Rockport-bred songstress drops a new disc—and helps John Gonzalez get in touch with his feelings.

I got your new CD, Courage, but it won’t play. I tried two different players. I dunno—that seems like a bad omen. [Laughs.] It’s not an omen, John. Just a bad technological moment.

Can you just sing it? No.

Not even a few bars? No. I will not tap dance for you…how old are you?

Thirty. I’m having a bit of a midlife crisis. Do you have any tips about being in your thirties? Oh, don’t worry about it. Maybe you’d be happier if you explored things in your life that don’t involve your job…

Would I! …I found that to be true in my thirties. I had overidentified with my persona—with Paula Cole.

“I Don’t Want to Wait” was co-opted by Dawson’s Creek. Now you’re linked to that whole crew, which is a little like being linked to dumpster full of stuff no one ever wanted. [Laughs.] On a practical level, I was able to get off the hamster wheel for eight years and raise my daughter because of that song. It keeps getting played, and it helps me live my life. I don’t worry about Dawson’s Creek. It used to bother me, but it doesn’t anymore.

I wouldn’t let James Van Der Beek near me without a high-powered water gun. He’s creepy. He’s a really warm, humble human being. There are so many other pretentious people you could shoot with a water gun.

Speaking of: What was it like touring with Peter Gabriel when you first started out? Was he pretentious? I mean, naming your first four albums after yourself—sweet Lord. You’re so funny. You’re too young to understand this.

Too young? Explain it. I like older women who want to educate me. He named them Peter Gabriel because there was a stoicism and simplicity to it.

You’ve said that the old Paula Cole died. Do you miss her? Is that why you’ve, um, come back? The music—I can’t live without music. I can’t live as a hermit anymore. This time off has served its purpose. It was dysfunctional; I need to sing and see sunshine again. It feels really good. And I think it will be different this time.