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Tom Jones' Ultimate Playlist


Tom Jones. Ordinary name, extraordinary voice.

He's a living legend, having spent five decades (and counting) in the music industry, playing storming live shows and selling over 100 million records.

And what's more, he's very much a going concern, with the critically-acclaimed new album Long Lost Suitcase, as well as his first-ever autobiography Over The Top and Back, both recently being released.

We caught up with Tom to discover his Ultimate Playlist - his favourite songs, and stories behind the selections. And it's good news if you're a rock 'n' roll fan...

Favourite Sad Song

"He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones. It was written by Curly Putman who wrote The Green Green Grass Of Home. And he sent me that song, but George Jones had already recorded it - he hadn't put it out yet, but he sent it to me and I said, 'Why are you sending me this song? George Jones has already done it - George has put his thing on it, you know?' And he said 'Yes, but you could make a pop record out of it.' I said, 'I don't think so. This is perfect the way George Jones has done it.' And I love it. I used to do it myself on stage, it's a beautiful, touching song."

Favourite Movie Soundtrack Song

"I've always been a Frankie Laine fan and he used to do a lot of themes for cowboy pictures and TV series. He did Rawhide and things like that. There was a movie called Gunfight at The O.K. Corral and he did the title song. It was a big song with me."

Favourite Song From Your Childhood

"Ghost Riders in the Sky, recorded by a man called Vaughn Monroe and I used to sing it in school - when you could get up and do what you do - sometimes the teachers would say 'OK, let's have something - sing a song'. We used to have that in Wales - I don't know if they had in England but we used to have it in Wales! So we used to get up and sing and I would do Ghost Riders in the Sky. My father showed me how to beat out a rhythm on the table - in school it would be a desk, one of those where you lift the lid and keep your books in it, so it had a great sound when you banged it - like a drum. So we I used to do this song standing at my desk, doing this rhythm that my father had taught me. We used to sing hymns at school and in chapel - The Old Rugged Cross was the favourite hymn."

Favourite Song No One Else Knows

"Better Go Home (Throw That Blade Away) by Sanford Clarke. It's about a man who's come out of jail and this young chap has started having a go at him with a knife. And he explains why he shouldn't do it! Y'know, he says 'I'm fresh out of prison, ten years in San Quentin, I've lost my wife and family - I don't feel so nice. So you'd better go home and throw that blade away.' Y'know what I mean - because if he doesn't, he's gonna stick it up his arse! I always liked that - it was in the fifties and I remember it was a real great record. A rock and roll record and in that time, they used to come out with unusual songs sometimes, in the South, and that was one of them."

Favourite Club Anthem

"Tubthumping by Chumbawumba. It's great because it's about your life - I get knocked down and I get up again - so I always loved that. It was around the same time as Reload - I was still clubbing then! I still do, but not as much as then - I used to go to clubs with the Stereophonics, because we did Mama Told Me Not to Come together - people I was working with... when I did the Wyclef album I used to go to clubs with him."

Favourite Wedding Song

"At Last by Etta James. I used to do shows with her, she was a good friend of mine."

Favourite Lyric From a Song

"My favourite lyric would be 'You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain' from Great Balls of Fire by the killer Jerry Lee Lewis. I played shows with him - and I had him on my TV show, there's a great clip on YouTube - we did a duet of a medley of Jerry Lee's hits - you can check it out, it's fantastic."

Favourite Current Song

"Hold Back the River by James Bay. I think that James Bay is...and I told him, I saw him at a Nordoff Robbins thing the other day and I said "You're the best thing I've heard in years". I saw a video of him - I was flicking through when I came over earlier in the year - and I came on MTV or one of the video shows and he was doing it and I thought: 'Shit, who is that?'. So I bought his CD - and then I met him, I did festivals in the summer and he was on one of them - and I got the chance to meet him and tell him what I thought of him. Because he's come up with something fresh, he is approaching music very honestly and he writes his own songs. And that's my favourite CD at the moment. He's a no-bullshit merchant, there's no gimmicks."

Favourite One-Hit Wonder

"There was a song called Red Hot by Billy Lee Riley and that's on Sun Records. I did a concert with Bob Dylan earlier in the year - for Bob Dylan - 'cause he liked my version of What Good Am I. They honoured Bob Dylan in LA earlier this year and he said, 'Yes I'll come and accept the award as long as you can get me ten singers that I like who've recorded my songs'. What Good Am I is the song I did and so he picked me, he liked my version. So when I was there he talked for about 45 minutes and afterwards we all sang and he said, funnily enough, 'They talk about one hit wonders,' he said, 'but it all depends what that hit was. When Billy Lee Riley did Red Hot, you felt red hot. That one hit he had could be more important than ten hits that somebody else has'. And I agree with him. Because I remember it very well, because then came Jerry Lee Lewis and he said "you can't stop a force like that". Jerry Lee kicked Billy Lee out of the ballpark with Sun Records."

Favourite Song From Your Own Music

"It was a song that was written by Lonnie Donegan which is called (It Looks Like) I'll Never Fall in Love Again. I was a single that I did in '67. I was touring with Lonnie and he said he had this song that I should listen to and it was on the flip side of one of his hits. It was based on a song I knew in Wales called It Looks Like I'm Never Gonna Cease My Wandering, it was a depression song, from the depression era. I knew it well, so when I first heard it I said I already knew it and he said, "Yes it is, but I've added a chorus" - and that was the difference, the big difference, between the two songs. He changed the lyrics but the melody is basically the same. It's always been special to me and when I did it, I took it from his arrangement, which was a sort of a jolly arrangement, and I said to Chas Blackwell, who did the arranagement - 'I hear Love Letters Straight From Your Heart. Can we do an arrangement like that,' and he said yes. It came together so wonderfully and it was one take. We had one acetate of it, so I took it home and gave it to my wife and she went to Gordon's house and played it to his wife. And then she had to fight her to get it back to take it home, 'cos it was the only copy we had! I knew then when my wife called me and told me, 'Joe Mills tried to keep that acetate and I had to fight her to take it home with me.' I thought 'Wow, this sounds like this is gonna be a hit! I've got my wife and my manager's wife fighting over it, that's a good sign!'"

Check out Tom's website for the latest news and info



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