Soundtrack Of My Life: Tom Jones

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Tom Jones

The first song I remember hearing

Tommy Dorsey – ‘Hawaiian War Chant’

“When I was a baby, my mother would wrap me up in a big shawl and strap me to her chest. It was so she could get on with the housework – they called it ‘Welsh fashion’. And apparently when this song came on the radio, I would start to wriggle in the shawl. So whenever I’d hear the ‘Hawaiian War Chant’ as a kid, my mother would say: ‘That’s the first song you ever took notice of.'”

The first song I fell in love with

Nelson Eddy – ‘Rose Marie’

“I went to see the musical movie Rose Marie with my mum when I was a kid. In the movie, Nelson Eddy is a Mountie policeman and he sings this song to a girl: ‘Oh Rose Marie, I love you/I’m always dreaming of you.’ Well, I picked this song up from the radio and I sang it for my grandmother – she was this little old lady in a rocking chair. I remember she wrote in my birthday card when I was about five: ‘To the little gentleman who sang ‘Rose Marie’, I love you’.”

The first album I ever bought

Jerry Lee Lewis – ‘Jerry Lee Lewis’

“This was the first album Jerry Lee Lewis made, 1958 I think it was, and I bought it at the local record shop in Pontypridd which was called Freddie Fey’s. When you bought a record in those days, they’d stamp it, and I still have my copy of the album to this day with the Freddie Fey’s stamp on it.”

The first gig I went to

Tom Jones – Wood Road Non-Political Club, Treforest, 1957

“It was a Saturday night and I was there with my father. I was only 17 – I should have been 18 [to get in], but I wasn’t. I remember the chairman of the club, Charlie Ashman his name was, saying that one of the musical acts hadn’t turned up. He knew I could sing and play so he asked me to fill in. I ran home to my house, grabbed my acoustic guitar, which I’d only just bought, and ran all the way back to the club. I sang about six songs and got paid a pound, and that was it.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Bill Haley & His Comets – ‘See You Later, Alligator’

“I used to jive to this song with my wife when we were teenagers. We would go to a dance hall called The Ranch. It was an old Nissen hut used by American soldiers during the war – a lot of them were billeted in south Wales before the Normandy landings. And then after the war, when the Americans went home, these huts were still standing so they turned them into dance halls and boys’ clubs. Even now, all these years later, as soon as I hear this song’s intro it takes me right back to jiving at The Ranch.”

The song I wish I’d written

Tom Jones – ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’

“There was a song I used to listen to in the Wood Road club called ‘I’m Never Gonna Cease My Wandering’, which was written in the ’30s during the depression. It was about a man trying to get work. Years later I met Lonnie Donegan and he said to me, ‘I’ve written this song and you could sing the shit out of it’. So he played it to me, and it was another version of ‘I’m Never Gonna Cease My Wandering’, which he’d turned into ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’. When I heard it, I thought, ‘I love this song – and if I’d been a songwriter, I’d love to have done this myself’. He changed some words in the verse, added the chorus and made the song more commercial. I remember thinking, ‘Christ, how clever is that!'”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Solomon Burke – ‘Cry To Me’

“This song has been going through my mind for years – it’s a great bloody song and I sometimes do it in my live shows. I first did it back in 1965, I think. And so when Olly Murs said to me on The Voice, ‘You knew Solomon Burke, right?’, I said, ‘Yeah, and my favourite Solomon Burke song has always been ‘Cry To Me’.’ And so I sang it. Well, that was on Saturday night and apparently we went viral with it. So now I’m thinking, ‘After all these years of kicking this song around, it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves’.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Frank Sinatra– ‘The Hungry Years’

“This song is about missing “those hungry years”. It jogs my memory of my wife and myself. We got married very young, you see, and she was with me up until five years ago when she had lung cancer and passed away. I tried to sing it as a duet with a lady on The Voice but every time I went to do it, I got a lump in my throat.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Jerry Lee Lewis – ‘Great Balls Of Fire’

“It’s always been a favourite of mine. If someone wants me to sing something, I’ve always said: ‘If in doubt, do ‘Great Balls Of Fire’. But at my funeral, I’d have to play the original 1957 version released on Sun Records.”

Tom Jones’ new track ‘Talking Reality Television Blues’ is out now – the new album ‘Surrounded By Time’ is out April 23

 

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