A Letter from J. About the Letter J
Fri., Mar. 10. 2023 8:11pm EST
J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX here again.
In recent years, a lot of ApX fans have friended me on Facebook, and they see my name listed as "John" there, so they wonder if that's how I prefer to be addressed. Actually, that's just the way Facebook insisted on listing my name; almost all of my friends call me "J." It's what the other guys in the band call me, it's what my wife calls me, and it's how I usually introduce myself.
If you ever meet me in person at an event or correspond with me via email, feel free to just call me "J."
My family called me "John," and I always introduced myself as "John" until my freshman year in college, when my new friends soon started calling me "J.J." That was an affectionate thing, so I didn't mind, since there are a plethora of John Jacksons out there (Top Five most-common U.S. male first name combined with a Top 20 most-common U.S. last name).
In fact, one of my sisters had a next-door neighbor in New Jersey named John Jackson. At the time my wife met me, she had a co-worker and friend named John Jackson. There was even an NFL offensive tackle named John Jackson who played for our local team, the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1988-97, but that was after I was out of college.
Anyway, the guys in college got lazy and shortened the "J.J." to "J." And everybody would introduce me to others as "J." When most people heard that, they assumed it was "Jay" and short for "Jason," but I always spelled it as "J.," because it was an abbreviation. Well, technically, it was an abbreviation of an abbreviation.
My professors still called me "John," but I was a journalism major and started working for the college newspaper. I needed a byline that would enable friends and professors alike to recognize me as the author of the articles I wrote. I had a very witty, accomplished professor named J. David Truby, so I decided I would become "J. John Jackson," which put both names in there for both sets of people.
Mr. Truby liked me, so it worked out. And that's how I still credit our lyrics in the liner notes of ApX CDs. Some of my friends in college liked the way it rolled off the tongue and got a kick out of saying "J. John Jackson" with great flair.
Anyway, when I became a born-again Christian two years after college, I introduced myself as "John" at the Bible study, but the pastor started calling me "J.J.," and soon I was "J." again. The same thing happened to me a year later when I got my new job at Equitable Gas in Pittsburgh. The director of our department started calling me "J.J.," and before long I became "J." there, too.
So I finally just embraced it. The situation was a zillion times better than when I was growing up in my old neighborhood. Back then, there was another John who was a grade ahead of me, so I got stuck with "Johnny," and some of the older kids used it disparagingly. Certain people can wear that name well, but it was tainted for me.
I felt like I really came into my own in college and even more so once I came to the Lord, so "J." kind of represents all that to me.
I've often wondered what God calls me or will call me when I get to Heaven. I know from the Bible that He seems to like the name John. :) Of course, God used multiple names for many people in the Old Testament (and even had multiple names for His people as a whole). Moreover, Jesus had nicknames for some of His Apostles, too, including John, so maybe He calls me both.
I used to tell people that the "J." stood for Jessica and the reason I never spelled it out was because of embarrassment. You'd be amazed at how many folks didn't get the joke at first. Maybe if I hadn't said it with a straight face? We also used to tell fans who asked about my name that when I was born, my parents went on Wheel of Fortune to try to raise money, but they were too poor to buy a vowel.
So there's my lonnnng story on how I got such a short name. Perhaps my middle initials should be TMI. ;)