Monday, November 30, 2015

Over the top and back: The Biography - Tom Jones

'For a lot of years, I've answered a lot of questions, but have never told my story before', says the original panty magnet.  For over 60 years Sir Tom Jones has maintained a vital career in a risky, fickle, unstable music business - a business notorious for the short lives of its artists. With a drive that comes from nothing but the love for what he does, he breaks through and then wrestles with the vagaries of the music industry, the nature of success and its inevitable consequences. Having recorded an expansive body of work and performed with fellow artists from across the spectrum and across every popular music genre, from rock, pop and dance to country, blues and soul, the one constant throughout has been his unique musical gifts and unmistakable voice.  But how did a boyo from a Welsh coal-mining family attain success across the globe? And how has he survived the twists and turns of fame and fortune to not only stay exciting, but actually become more credible and interesting with age? In this, his first ever autobiography, Tom revisits his past and tells the tale of his journey from wartime Pontypridd to LA and beyond.  He reveals the stories behind the ups and downs of his fascinating and remarkable life, from the early heydays to the subsequent fallow years to his later period of artistic renaissance.  It's the story nobody else knows or understands, told by the man who lived it, and written the only way he knows how: simply and from the heart. Raw, honest, funny and powerful, this is a memoir like no other from one of the world's greatest ever singing talents.  This is Tom Jones and Over the Top and Back is his story.

Now, beyond 'Delilah' I never really fancied him as an artist but mum always played his cassettes while I was growing up. The voice on that man! Then, I spot this. It's a no-brainer. I've got to read it.  And I gotta say, it's a great read. I like that it's not a 'beginning-middle-end'. Not just full of stories worth telling in order, year to year. Sure we have the 'I was born, grew up, etc' but the narrative bounces around enough to be interesting, compelling.   It feels like I'm sitting with him of an evening and he's remembering times gone by and recounting memories as they come to him: happenings; feelings; encounters. Although there is of course a good structure to this but the change in scenes holds my attention and insists I read the next chapter straight away. Good imagery and sense of atmosphere. Well written even if it wasn't Sir Tom's actual handwriting. Enough twists and turns and also turning out to be a really good, interesting life story. Shows his humility and honesty. Some swear words, just in case you're easily offended, which I'm not but I do appreciate that intimate descriptions are suggested rather than explained. Like when Sir Tom tells of his 'first time' with Linda. We don't need to 'know'... he gets that. His use of the 'f' word is always in the right place. Tears and laughter in one thoroughly fab night of the first 13 chapters with Sir Tom and his own story. I hear 'I've gotta be me' on every page and I can't wait until bedtime tonight to start where I left off. Not been so captivated by a book in years. Loving reading his story and thoroughly recommend it to anyone with even a little interest in the man.

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