For Tom Jones, it’s not unusual to return to Israel

With a notable resume of 1960s/70s hits – including “It’s Not Unusual,” “Delilah,” and “She’s a Lady” – Tom Jones has been a household name for decades.

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June 16, 2019 08:48
3 minute read.
TOM JONES: It’s a privilege to be able to perform for an audience that appreciates what I do

TOM JONES: It’s a privilege to be able to perform for an audience that appreciates what I do. (photo credit: ERICK BUSTAMANTE BELAIR)

 
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What happens when a sex symbol with an explosive voice turns 79? If it’s Tom Jones, he keeps right on going, like a Welsh Eveready battery.

With a notable resume of 1960s/70s hits – including “It’s Not Unusual,” “Delilah,” “She’s a Lady” and “Green, Green Grass of Home” – Jones has been a household name for decades.

Back in his late 1960s heyday, when he hosted a weekly TV variety show, Jones prompted a manic response from his mostly female audience, who would scream and throw underpants at the handsome singer when he boomed out a tune and swiveled his hips.

The hips may not swivel as easily as they did and his curly black hair has turned white, but Jones is still drawing full house on his regular tours around the globe. He wowed his fans in Israel in 2013 and 2017, when he peppered his 90-minute set of his career-spanning hits with a spirited version of “Yiddeshe Mama.”

After his 2013 visit, Jones told an interviewer that he paid no mind to anti-Israel activists who call on him to boycott the country whenever he books a show here. “I think entertainers should entertain,” he said. “They should go wherever – there shouldn’t be any restrictions... I don’t see why anyone would mix up the two things – entertainment and politics.”

Still holding a high profile as one of the coaches on The Voice UK, Jones will be returning to Tel Aviv for a show on July 3 at the Menora Mivtachim Arena. Now officially Sir Tom Jones, since he was knighted in 2006 by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth for his services to music, the elder statesman of smolder answered some questions from the Post via email as he prepared to leave on tour.

This will be your third time coming back to Israel in the last six years. What are your impressions of the country?

Unfortunately, I don’t get a chance to travel around as much as I’d like, as the touring schedule is usually very tight. But it’s always the people who make the strongest impression, so it’s a privilege to be able to perform for an audience that appreciates what I do, as well as meet the big characters that are always so enjoyable.

In your experience as a coach on The Voice UK, are you finding that there are a lot of talented singers out there that have something to say, or is it mainly style over substance?

It’s a bit of both – there are some incredibly talented vocalists, but sometimes they are just another version of what’s already out there, they haven’t found their own voice yet. Then, every once in a while, someone comes across that is unique, very much themselves – and they have something new and fresh to offer. Those are the ones we coaches hope to find.

Is there anything special you do now on tour to keep your voice in shape?

It’s most important to keep the vocal chords moisturized, so I drink plenty of liquids and keep my personal environment as humidified as possible. Then you have to try and avoid catching a cold or getting sick, as even a simple cold can stop the whole vocal process from working, which is terrible.

There’s always been the catchphrase in rock & roll, “It’s the singer and not the song,” and singers like you have proven its validity. Have you ever rejected recording a song because you knew that you were not going to be able to create a unique interpretation of it?

Of course, many times. Actually, for anyone who has good vocal technique, it’s tempting to tackle anything and everything, but that never works, as some tunes suit the particular qualities of a voice much more than others.

Back when you had your American TV show in the 60s, you performed onstage with some greats, ranging from Janis Joplin to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Who was your favorite musical collaboration?

Both of those and many others… Stevie Wonder, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin… the list is long, happy to say!

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