Actually, it was a little unusual for me to be walking across the main floor of our local casino at 10 a.m. on a weekday.
When my friend Nancy saw me, her eyes popped open in astonishment.
“What are you doing here?” she said, no doubt mortified to be spotted in the casino at 10 in the morning.
“Tom Jones tickets,” I said.
Nancy breathed a sigh of relief, then smiled broadly.
“Me, too,” she said. “He’s the best.”
Yes, he is. I confess that Tom Jones was one of my role models when I was growing up in the early ’70s. You gotta learn your way with the ladies somehow, and he seemed a pretty good guide to a 13-year-old.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know Dean Martin also was one of my role models. Gotta learn to be cool, too. No one cooler than Dino.
I saw them both on TV, of course. I vividly recall watching “This is Tom Jones” with my grandmother, who thought he was great. My dad and I watched “The Dean Martin Show” every Thursday night.
I’m not a big fan of birthday posts (and I promise not to do them often), but today is worth noting. Dean Martin and Tom Jones share a June 7 birthday. Dino would have been 90, and our pallies over at ilovedinomartin are celebrating, of course. Tom Jones is going strong at 67.
Having seen Tom Jones live a couple of years ago, I can assure you “going strong” is precisely the way to describe him. Backed by a Vegas-style show band, he put on a terrific performance. He’s lost almost nothing from that big voice, even after 40 years in the business.
I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see Tom Jones live, and it was fabulous. Grandma would have loved it, too. Janet is a much more casual fan, and she found it all a little corny, but she enjoyed it nonetheless.
Rest assured I don’t dig everything Tom Jones does. He’s an interesting guy, willing to take chances on a variety of styles, then and now. Not everything works, but what I like, I like a lot.
Though it may be Tom Jones’ birthday, we’re getting the presents.
If you, like me, remember Tom Jones’ show, which aired from 1969 to 1971, it’s coming out on DVD later this month. Among his guests on the eight shows chosen: Burt Bacharach, the Who, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Mary Hopkin, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Leslie Uggams and Stevie Wonder.
Want to see what all the fuss was about? Here’s Tom Jones and Janis Joplin, doing “Raise Your Hand,” from 1969. I believe this sizzling clip also is on the DVD.
We also have a couple of Tom Jones tunes for you today. You know all the hits, so here are a couple of less-often-heard tracks.
“Daughter of Darkness,” Tom Jones, 1970, from “The Complete Tom Jones,” a greatest-hits compilation released in 1993.
Also worth noting: A previously unreleased Tom Jones-Van Morrison duet, “Cry For Home,” was put out as a single earlier this week. It’ll be on “The Best of Van Morrison, Vol. 3,” which comes out next week.