Over the Top And Back: Tom Jones: The Autobiography By Sir Tom Jones (4 out of 5)
This should surprise no one that I am reading this. My mom was one of those in the 70’s and 80’s that can now be called a “fangirl” in this day and age. Tom, Elvis, and Englebert were her Top 3. I love Tom and Elvis, can’t stand Englebert. I am happy to hear that Tom Jones isn’t wild about Humperduck either. Sir Tom Jones has been around for six decades, with that booming voice and those dance movements that drove-still drives- women wild. So in addition to delivering many memorable songs over the years, he continues to perform and now we can add author to his extensive resume. I love autobiographies that take you back to a point in time where you feel as if you are there firsthand, seeing it so clearly through the eyes of the person telling it. This is present throughout his autobiography. I wasn’t born until 1973, but I received such a clear-cut description that I felt as if I were there in Pontypridd from the moment Tom Jones entered our world in 1940. The honesty, coupled with his wickedly funny sense of sarcastic humor, is refreshing to read from a legend. You never sense anything from straight up professionalism and joy in his craft, even now. There isn’t a moment in here that wasn’t fascinating. The dude has had a seriously fascinating life, and yet somehow manages to remain a down-to-Earth guy and not a first class jagbag, like some autobiographies I have read (Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron cones to mind. Gene Simmons is another). The stories behind his friendships with some of his fellow entertainers most notably Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and The Stereophonics, are heartfelt and some, downright bizarre (Elvis in the toilet, not the death throes scenario either, is what I cite as an example). Discussions of the struggle to find “the right song” after his string of hits dries up (something that I walked away feeling his former manager Gordon should have been more diligent about) leave you feeling bad for this man, because his level of frustration is there in the pages. His Vegas years, along with his resurgence with new acts like The Stereophonics, The Cardigans, Wyclef Jean, and Portishead only go to show that true talent comes full circle eventually. Club hits with his remake of Prince’s hit “Kiss”, along with his own hit “Sex Bomb”, further illustrate that the guy isn’t going anywhere. And let’s be honest here- you didn’t want him to.