Today, the Welsh-born golden-voiced singer Tom Jones is known as much for his influence on the dance, The Carlton, (from the TV show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) as he is for his hit songs.
With a voice that booms like thunder through a cave, the 82-year-old Jones has lived many lives. His career began with a string of Top 10 hit songs. To date, he’s sold more than 100 million albums. He even earned a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination. Fast forward a few decades and the silver fox earned a resurgence in popularity as a coach on the singing competition show The Voice UK, starting in 2012.
Over the course of his life and career, Jones has been a chest-exposed sex symbol, a music icon, and now, a grandfatherly figure you’d long to have at your Thanksgiving Day table.
Here we are going to dive into Jones’ top 10 songs from his illustrious career. So, without further ado, let’s take a listen.
1. “It’s Not Unusual”
The song immediately gets your fingers snapping and your shoulders and hips swaying. Jones’ voice swells and bellows, sounding like a golden waterfall onto rocks made of cinnamon buns.
Written by Les Reed and Gordon Mills, the song was recorded by an unknown singer at the time, Jones. “It’s Not Unusual” was originally offered to artist Sandie Shaw, but when she heard it, she was so impressed by him, she gave it back to Jones. It became the second single he released and it hit No. 1 on the U.K. Singles Chart in 1965.
2. “She’s A Lady”
She’s a lady! Woah-oh-oah!
This song is a disco mainstay. It’s got swagger, and sex appeal. The song was originally written by Paul Anka but the biggest recording was by Jones, released in 1971. It’s Jones’ highest charting single in the U.S. and his last Billboard Top 10. It’s perfect for a pulp spy flick.
An epic song with enough sorrow to fill a bathtub, “Delilah, was written by Barry Mason and Les Reed and released in 1968. Jones’ recording hit No. 1 in several countries, including Germany and Switzerland. Jones tells the story of heartbreak like a tornado.
4. “Tower of Song”
A cover, written by Leonard Cohen, Jones’ rendition is simply beautiful. “Tower of Song” is about a long life and a long career. It’s also about being tied to your passion, about not choosing songwriting but it choosing you. Acceptance of this life has its dreary joy, but what else is life about, at its heart? I was born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice sounds much different when sung by Jones than by Cohen, bringing a little levity to the powerhouse track.
5. “What’s New Pussycat?”
Another indelible lyric: What’s new pussycat! Woah-oh-oh! It’s a big delivery that we can’t even take in what the Broadway-esque song is about, exactly. But who cares?! All we want is the endorphin-inducing refrain again and again. Originally, “What’s New Pussycat?” was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for a film of the same name.
A cover of the Prince’s song, “Kiss,” Jones gives a booming, round sensibility to the track as compared to the Purple One’s more staccato delivery.
7. “Sex Bomb”
Hearing this track, one wonders what kind of crazy pop culture status Tom Jones would have today if he was in his mid-20s. Would he be The Weeknd? The male counterpart to Adele? It staggers the imagination. “Sex Bomb,” is fun, playful, and suggestive. The perfect combination for a pop hit.
8. “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”
An early hit for Jones, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” was originally written by Lonnie Donegan and Jimmy Currie. It was first released by Donegan in 1962. However, the most commercially successful version was released by Jones in 1967. The song showcases the superhero vocals Jones boasts.
Written by Charles Danvers and Carl Sigman, “Till” was originally released in 1957 by Percy Faith. It’s been covered by a number of artists and in 1971, Jones released his rendition. His version hit No. 2 on the U.K. Singles Chart and No. 41 on the Billboard charts that year.
10. “Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow”
This country song, performed by the Welsh singer, is one-part twang and one-part opera. The 1977 single was written by Roger Greenway and Barry Mason and was featured on Jones’ album of the same name. It’s the perfect track to listen to as you’re having a beer at a sawdust dive bar in Nashville, waiting for your love to walk through that door.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images