Tom Jones interview (2002)

Tom Jones

In October 2002 Tom Jones spoke to BBC News Online's Tom Bourton about working with Wyclef Jean, longevity, and returning to television.

Are you happy with the new album?

I am very proud of it, as there is a lot of me in it. It was more of a collaboration than I have done before.

Will you be doing another album with Wyclef?

I always work at one album at a time because I want to find out from the people how this is received. You never know. You do the best you can and you hope people are going to feel it the way I felt it when I recorded it.

But it doesn't always work like that, and you get so close to stuff when you are recording it, you can't stand back and listen to it as other people will. Once I get this album established, then I'll think about the next one.

What has kept you going for so long?

I am versatile and I like a lot of different kinds of songs. Some bands are in one kind of area and want to stay there. But I've always liked a wide variety of stuff. A lot of people who started in the 60s are still there, but I wanted to move on.

I still do a lot of the songs I did then on stage. Trying new things is what keeps me going - it is more exciting and more challenging. But I only try the stuff I think I can do. I wouldn't try to change my style.

Would you ever consider returning to television?

I think there is definitely room for more music on TV these days than there is now, especially in America. There are more musical shows in the UK than there are in the States. There are not a lot of shows where you can go and sing live so I think there is a void there. I think there is a show there I could host doing all different kinds of music.

You performed a version of What's New Pussycat with Wyclef. Will you be releasing that?

Yes. It is going to be his next single. He wanted to use the original recording, so he sampled me singing it and wrote a new song around it really. It is about all kinds of cats now. It is a fantastic idea.

Do you ever listen to your old recordings?

I listen to them from time to time, just to hear what I sounded like, and what they were like. Especially now they are on CD with the Greatest Hits. It's much easier than digging the old vinyl out.

How much does your public persona reflect the real you?

With me, I think what you see is what you get. I don't change my image when I walk in the house. There is of course more effort when you go on television, or in the recording studio, or when you do live shows. You put your energies into the time allotted to you, but I don't change. My attitude is the same.

How does it feel to know your songs are played before Welsh internationals?

It makes me feel very proud, especially when it is sport and especially when it is Wales. When I sang when Wales played England, that was my contribution to the match - I think I can sing better than I can play rugby.

Would you consider moving back to Wales?

Yeah, I would think so, But for me, I haven't really left. Having a house in Los Angeles is just where the house is. I have a green card - I still have a British passport. I haven't become American, it is just more convenient for me living there. I carry Wales around with me.

You won a Q magazine merit award recently. You must be delighted.

I am grateful for any award, but especially when it is musical. Q magazine is all about music, so getting an award is great.

How much Welsh do you know?

Not a lot. My grandfather spoke Welsh, but in south Wales when I was brought up, it was so cosmopolitan. I might learn Welsh anyway now, because I should be able to speak it, and I always feel a bit guilty of the fact when Catherine Zeta Jones talks me to and I can't converse with her in Welsh.

And finally, do you have a message for your fans?

I hope they get the feeling of what I put into the songs on the new album.

Words: Tom Bourton


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