Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tom Jones / This much I know / ‘Fame allows you to release things that were already in you. It’s like drink in that respect’

Tom Jones

Tom Jones: ‘Fame allows you to release things that were already in you. It’s like drink in that respect’

‘I used to run six miles a day, but now when I’m in London I don dark glasses and an anorak with a hoodie, and walk’: Tom Jones

This much I know

The singer, 75, on a lasting marriage, receiving contradictory advice from Elvis and Sinatra, and dyeing his hair

Angela Wintle
Saturday 24 October 2015 14.00 BST

My earliest memory is watching my mother hurrying to prepare tea and distractedly talking to my sister and me while looking out for my father. If the cloth wasn’t on the table when he arrived home from the colliery, it was failure on an epic scale as far as she was concerned.
My real name is Thomas Jones Woodward. My former manager, Gordon Mills, gave me the name Tom Jones, inspired by the 1963 movie with Albert Finney. It’s based on an 18th-century novel by Henry Fielding, though I’ve never read it.
I sensed very quickly that I wouldn’t find fame a burden. As someone who has looked at it from both sides, being famous is preferable to the alternative.
I don’t buy this “fame changes people” argument. Fame allows you to release things that were already in you, that’s all. Character will out. It’s a bit like drink in that respect.
The BBC received complaints when I sang on Blue Peter and Crackerjack in the 1960s. One viewer wrote: “I don’t want that man moving like that in front of my young family. And at teatime, too.” Apologies to all concerned.
I’ve had my career in reverse. Most people travel from critical acclaim to cabaret; I seem to have travelled from cabaret to critical acclaim.
Contracting tuberculosis at age 12 was difficult. But in a weird way it also made me feel special. I was quarantined at home for two years, but I knew that people were thinking about me and asking: “How’s Tommy?”
Frank Sinatra thought I should sing standards. “That’s what I want to hear from you,” he said. Meanwhile I had Elvis saying: “Don’t go there. Not standards. Leave that to Sinatra.” I was in the middle. I tried not to be too dizzied by it all.

Tom Jones
Photograph by Harry Borden

I’ve never had the feeling that I have with my wife Linda with anyone else. When I met her I wanted to hold her for as long and often as possible. I don’t think you do find that more than once. Our marriage has lasted because we have the same childhood memories and Welsh sense of humour, which is slightly sarcastic – no bullshit.
I gave up dyeing my hair in 2009. I’d been getting it blacked up for years, but I wasn’t fooling anyone. Don’t get me wrong, though: if I didn’t think the grey looked better, I’d still be dyeing it.
I walk to relax. I used to run six miles a day, but my right knee started giving me trouble. So now when I’m in London I don dark glasses and an anorak with a hoodie, and walk. It doesn’t always work. I was crossing Lambeth Bridge recently when this van driver yelled: “Do you want a lift, Tom?”
I dread the time, if it ever comes, when I won’t be able to sing. Thankfully I’m 75 and still singing well. My voice is deeper, but I sing with more sensitivity, wisdom and experience.
Receiving a medal from my country [his knighthood in 2006] was above and beyond anything I could have imagined. Years later, the Queen stood right in front of me during the finale for the Diamond Jubilee Concert. There we were, on a stage rammed with international pop stars, with an audience of hundreds of thousands of flag wavers disappearing to the horizon, and she turned to me and said: “It’s cold, isn’t it?”
I’m rarely in bed before 4am. Sleep until midday, rise for lunch. I’m a nocturnal creature, really.
There’s just one way I’d like to be remembered: as a hell of a singer.

Over the Top and Back: the Autobiography by Toms Jones is published by Michael Joseph at £20. His new album, Long Lost Suitcase, is released on Virgin/EMI

Tom Jones / This much I know / I might have become a miner like my father

Tom Jones

This much I know

I might have become a miner like my father

Tom Jones, singer, 66, London

Interview by Barbara Ellen
Sunday 22 October 2006 23.57 BST

I've always had the voice, I've always sung, ever since I was small - in school, in chapel, to the radio. I don't really know life without it.
I lived in Wales for the first 24 years of my life and it stood me in good stead, gave me values. But that's also a lot to do with your upbringing. It could be working-class, it could be middle-class, but you've got to have love and attention, and I did, I was lucky.
I might have become a miner like my father, but I had tuberculosis when I was 12. I couldn't go out between the ages of 12 and 14. It was a big lesson - not to take life for granted. I said to myself, when I get out of this bed, I'll never complain about anything ever again. But I do.

Jones duetting with Janis Joplin in the television program This Is Tom Jones in 1969

I'm never scared to try new things. When you do something and the kids dig it, it's great. It's not about trying to be young, or something you're not, because they always see through that.
You need to have a bit of an ego in this business.
When you first get successful you spend a bit - big house, cars, jewellery, all the trappings.
But after a while you think, how many watches can one man have?
I've been misquoted many times about women. I'd be asked about growing up and I'd say that my father went to work, and my mother was a home-maker. Then it was, 'Tom Jones thinks men should work and women should look after the house.' But I didn't say that.
Elvis was an icon. For him to tell me he liked my voice meant a lot. It was the same when Frank Sinatra told me he loved the way I sang.

I was never interested in drugs. I like to have a drink because I like the things that go with it - pubs, restaurants, having dinner. It's not just sitting in the corner with a bottle. That's how drug-taking seems to be: people going off on their own to the toilet to do it.
Getting a knighthood was fantastic. You look into yourself - am I worthy of this? I find I don't swear as much as I used to.

When you do shows you feel as if you're pouring yourself into the audience, and when they applaud it's as if they're saying, 'We know, we get it.' It's so reassuring.

I don't like bad behaviour just because you're rich or famous. I remember early on I had to get there really early for my TV show and I was moaning away. When I arrived there was this building site, and this kid was going up a ladder carrying a hod, which is what I used to do. And he said, 'Hey Tommy, want to give me a hand with this?' I thought, Jesus Christ, I'm moaning, but he's going to be up and down that ladder all day.'
Even when I was younger I didn't look in mirrors much. I've got a good bone structure and I try to keep myself in shape, but I'm not vain.

If you're singing love songs, sexy songs, and the feelings aren't coming across, then there's something wrong. But if you're always doing it with a wink, that can catch up with you.
I'm not looking forward to retiring. The biggest fear for any performer is that it will be taken away from you. It's so much part of you, a physical thing, it's scary to think one day it won't be there any more. If I'm not able to sing, I won't know what to do.
There is no alternative to ageing - just death. The only reason I would like to be young is that you've got longer to live. But it's a great feeling to have grandchildren.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Q&A / Tom Jones

Tom Jones

Q&A: Tom Jones

'My fancy dress costume of choice? Dick Turpin'

Interview: Rosanna Greenstreet
Friday 31 August 2012 22.59 BST

Tom Jones was born Thomas Jones Woodward in south Wales in 1940. He left school at 16 and married his wife Linda a year later, just before the birth of their son Mark. In 1963, he joined his first band and two years later his career took off with It's Not Unusual, his first hit in the UK and US. He went on to have success with the classics Green, Green Grass Of Home and Delilah. He has sold more than 100m records. He was one of the coaches on the TV talent show The Voice. His latest album is Spirit In The Room and next week he releases the single (I Want To) Come Home. Tomorrow he performs at Radio 2 Live In Hyde Park.
When were you happiest?
When I was able finally to get out of bed when I had TB – after two years.
What is your greatest fear? 
Being locked up in jail.
What is your earliest memory?
I can see the kitchen in the house where I was born – so think I was in a high-chair having some nosh.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
The Queen, for her loyalty and determination.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Bad sense of time – on the clock, not in music!
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
I was in the toilet somewhere on the M1, sitting with my trousers down, and some girls jumped over the door.
What is your most treasured possession?
My voice.
What would your super power be?
What makes you unhappy?
Not being able to sing.
What is your favourite smell?
The scent of a woman.
What is your favourite book?
The Rise And Fall Of The British Empire, by Lawrence James.
What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Dick Turpin.
What is the worst thing anyone's said to you?
"I heard you were paid off." Early in my career there was a rumour that I was paidnot to play at some club – which was not true. It still rankles.
Cat or dog?

Is it better to give or to receive?
By giving you receive – it's a good deal.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Winston Churchill, both of my grandfathers – whom I've never met – John Wayne and Boudicca.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Any and many swearwords.
What is the worst job you've done?
Twelve-hour shifts in a paper mill.
When did you last cry, and why?
When I listened to one of my [The Voice] team members sing.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being knighted by Her Majesty.
What keeps you awake at night?
Knowing I have to get up early.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
I haven't given it any thought.
How would you like to be remembered?
As a helluva singer.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Don't make decisions when you've had too much to drink.
Where would you most like to be right now?
Wherever I am, breathing and well.

Tom Jones / We need to drop Delilah song for being too violent

Tom Jones

Tom Jones

We need to drop Delilah song for being too violent, says singer

Sir Tom Jones' classic and Welsh rugby anthem Delilah has been labelled inappropriate for rugby crowds over claims it promotes domestic violence.
Former Plaid Cymru president and folk singer Dafydd Iwan said the iconic ballad should be abandoned for its violent lyrics.
He said the song tends to "trivialise the idea of murdering a woman".
The Welsh Rugby Union disagrees though, comparing the lyrics to Shakespeare plays such as Romeo and Juliet.

Mr Iwan said: "It is a song about murder and it does tend to trivialise the idea of murdering a woman.
"It's a pity these words now have been elevated to the status of a secondary national anthem. I think we should rummage around for another song instead of Delilah."
Sir Tom said he was proud the song was used at rugby matches and said the song's subject matter simply reflected "something that happens in life".


Too violent?

The lyrics in question are: "At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting.
"I cross the street to her house and she opened the door.
"She stood there laughing... I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more."


A Welsh Rugby Union spokesperson said: "Within rugby, Delilah has gained prominence through its musicality rather than because of its lyrics.
"There is, however, plenty of precedent in art and literature, prominently in Shakespearean tragedies for instance, for negative aspects of life to be portrayed.
"The Welsh Rugby Union condemns violence against women and has taken a lead role in police campaigns to highlight and combat the issue."

Tom Jones says critics shouldn't take Delilah so literally

Tom Jones

Tom Jones says critics shouldn't take Delilah so literally

Singer says it makes him proud to hear the hit sung by Welsh rugby crowds, and that those calling for it to be banned ‘take the fun out of it’

Sean Michaels
Friday 12 December 2014 08.05 GMT

Tom Jones has rejected claims that his song Delilah “trivialises” violence against women, arguing that critics shouldn’t be taking the 46-year-old song so “literally”.
Jones’ comments come as Dafydd Iwan, former president of the Welsh nationalist paty Plaid Cymru, called for Welsh rugby supporters to stop singing Delilah at matches. Jones’ 1968 hit tells the story of a man who attacks the woman who cheated on him. “Forgive me Delilah I just couldn’t take any more,” he sings. “I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more.”
“It’s not a political statement,” Jones told the BBC on Thursday. “This woman us unfaithful to him and [the narrator] just loses it … It’s something that happens in life.”
Iwan, who is also a folk singer, recently asserted that Delilah “trivialise[s] the idea of murdering a woman”.
“It’s a pity these words now have been elevated to the status of a secondary national anthem,” he said. “I think we should rummage around for another song instead of Delilah.”


Delilah has long been part of the repertoire of the Welsh Rugby Union and supporters of the Premier League football club Stoke. “I love to hear it being sung at Welsh games,” Jones said. “It makes me very proud to be Welsh that they’re using one of my songs.” He claims that “the great thing about the song” is its chorus, “Why, why, why Delilah”. “I don’t think [singers] are really thinking about it … If it’s going to be taken literally, I think it takes the fun out of it.”
Thus far, the Welsh Rugby Union has shrugged off Iwan’s call for a Delilah ban. “[The Union] condemns violence against women and has taken a lead role in police campaigns to highlight and combat the issue,” a spokesman told the South Wales Evening Post. “[We are] willing to listen to any strong public debate on the issue of censoring the use of Delilah but we have not been aware of any groundswell of opinion on this matter.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rebecca Hall / ‘I was born in the wrong place and at the wrong time’

Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall

‘I was born in the wrong place and at the wrong time’

She has starred in Hollywood blockbusters, costume dramas and, now, The BFG – but despite leading a ‘charmed life’, the actor insists she’s not a ‘perfect, entitled luvvy’

Xan Brooks
Thursday 21 July 2016 15.39 BST

When Steven Spielberg was casting the role of the Queen’s housemaid in The BFG, he knew who to call. The part required an actor who was English to the core and as posh as you like; ideally with a metaphorical clatter of hockey sticks thrown in for good measure. He told Rebecca Hall: “It’s a small role, but it’s significant – and I specifically want you to play it,” which was nice of him and flattering – and possibly a little galling as well, in that it suggests the director had a preconceived notion of what Hall represents. In this, I suspect, he is not alone.

Rebecca Hall, David Rylance, Ruby Barnhill y Steven Speilberg 

“Directors assume I’m, like, establishment,” she explains, nose wrinkling, and then in the same breath concedes that she understands why. She comes with pedigree, brandishing a golden ticket that must be justified at every turn. To the innocent film-goer, she is a capable young British actor, equally at home in Hollywood blockbusters, gritty dramas and period costume. But to others she will always be stage royalty, the daughter of director Peter Hall and soprano Maria Ewing; a princess wheeled on to attend to the Queen.

Who, me? Why everyone is talking about Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall
Photograph by Jake Chessum for the Guardian

Who, me? Why everyone is talking about Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall is used to people always wanting to talk about her dad, but now the Bafta-winning actor is having to get used to another line of questioning: her role in the break-up of a Hollywood golden couple. She talks gossip, girls' schools and growing up

Simon Hattenstone
Saturday 12 June 2010 00.02 BST

Rebecca Hall is a fine actor who starred in the best Woody Allen film in years, but she's better known now for her role in a recent tabloid splash, after she was cast as the femme fatale, or deadly English rose, who could, possibly, have destroyed the marriage of Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet. After all, she had worked with Mendes, they were friends, and apparently she was his type of girl (brainy, arty, good-looking).

We meet in a Manhattan cafe. She arrives on foot, alone, long, black dress, no make-up, flat sandals, sore ankles from where high heels have been rubbing. I look for Sam Mendes hiding round a corner with his high-art posse. Nothing doing. Does she live round here? No, she says apologetically, she's not been here before. So where is home these days? "That's a good question."

Rebecca Hall / I was worried everyone would hate me

Rebecca Hall
Photograph by Richard Saker
Rebecca Hall

"I was worried everyone would hate me"

Being the daughter of Britain's best-known theatre director Sir Peter Hall might have had its advantages. But outstanding performances in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon and C4's upcoming thriller Red Riding prove that Rebecca Hall is not just daddy's girl

Andrew Anthony
Sunday 22 February 2009 00.01 GMT

ver since she was a little girl, Rebecca Hall has been identified as a promising talent. The daughter of Sir Peter Hall, who founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and was director of the National Theatre, and Maria Ewing, the celebrated opera and jazz singer, she had great expectations encoded in her genes.

At 10 she appeared in her father's TV adaptation of The Camomile Lawn and also got herself an agent. And though her parents placed her fledgling career on hold for a decade, Hall's first adult appearance on stage, in Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession - again in a production by her father - landed her the Ian Charleson Award.

Rebecca with her father, theatre director Peter Hall, in 2010. Photograph by Dave M Benett

The award is given for the most outstanding classical performance on the British stage by an actor under 30. Hall was 20, fast-tracked from Cambridge University to Cambridge Circus, without any of the bother of drama school or life in provincial rep. Instead, with her lithe beauty and theatrical heritage, she walked straight into magazine lists of newcomers to watch.
Put all of this together, the famous parents, the elite university, the nepotism, the precocious success, and the photogenic bone structure, and 27-year-old Hall could seem like a walking overdose of old-fashioned privilege. From such an assessment, it would be tempting to conclude that her talent was much less about natural promise than predetermined profile.
Or at least it would be if her evident ability was not currently on display in Frost/Nixon, Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Channel 4's Red Riding, adapted from David Peace's novels of the same name. She plays, respectively, David Frost's jet-set girlfriend, a neurotic Manhattanite abroad, and a working-class femme fatale, and in each role she is instantly and memorably convincing.

Rebecca Hall

I meet Hall in a café in downtown Manhattan, a few blocks from her SoHo apartment. Her agent told me how to spot the actress: "She's tall and very pretty." She didn't take long to find. Dressed in black, she looks like she walked off the cover of a Velvet Underground album. Hall is what is often termed "willowy", meaning that she is tall but she wears her height with style.