Sir Tom Jones has opened up in an intimate interview about what it’s like to be in his 80s, and revealed some of the highlights of his almost 60-year career.
The singer, who turns 81 in early June, has just released his 41st studio album, Surrounded By Time, a collection of covers from artists including Bob Dylan and Dusty Springfield, with many of the songs broaching ageing and mortality. In a new interview with UK-based newspaper Metro, the star discussed the importance of the new songs and talked about how he’s come to terms with ageing.
Tom says there’s one new song in particular on the album that highlights the ageing process. Named ‘I’m Growing Old’, it has been in the works since Tom was just 32. He told Metro that writer Bobby Cole approached him with the song about 50 years ago, and he put it on the back burner until he was a more appropriate age. “Bobby said, ‘I’ve got this great song – I think you’d sing the s**t out of it.’ But I said, ‘I don’t think I can do it now but I’ll hold it, so hopefully when I’m about 80, if I ever reach there, then I’ll do it.’ And that day came, of course.
“When I walk now, my son [Mark] says, ‘You’re looking down a lot’ and I say, ‘Yes, because I don’t want to trip over something.’ It’s harder for me to get off the bloody floor nowadays! In a way, it makes me more determined because when you’re young you don’t think about it.”
Tom said he didn’t think much about ageing during his younger years, but recognises the benefits now — namely being first in line for his Covid-19 vaccination. “You think, oh yes, I’ve got this big voice and I can sing the s**t out of anything and you just do it. You’re not thinking about what you’ll be like if you get to 80. But you do think about what the benefits are,” he said. “Well, the first benefit of being 80 is that I was first in line for my Covid jab before Christmas.”
Tom’s illustrious career began with a string of top-10 hits in the mid-1960s, and now — after nearly six decades in the industry — he has an enviable treasure trove of memories but says there was one that definitely stands out from the rest. “Being knighted by the Queen – that is above and beyond any of my expectations,” he said.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t want to do a job of work that I didn’t like, which most people have to do in order to survive. I knew I was put on this Earth for this purpose. I think God gave me this voice. And when you get a gift like this, you should see it through.”
Tom says of all the covers of songs on his new album, there’s one that takes him back to the beginning: the Cat Stevens’ song ‘Pop Star’. “When I listen to it, it just takes me back to when I started. I was proud of what I did and I did want to tell my ‘mama’, although it was more my wife, Linda, than my mother,” he said. “When I took the song ‘It’s Not Unusual’ back to Wales to play it to her, she said, ‘That sounds like a hit to me.’ So when it was, I was like, ‘Hey, Linda, have a look at this – I’m on at the bloody London Palladium!'”
The star has been awarded an Ivor Novello, an OBE and even given his own television show, This Is Tom Jones, but he’s far from slowing down and has proved he’s still got it, appearing as a judge on TV show The Voice in the UK for the past nine seasons.
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