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Speaking with ... Tom Jones

November 21, 2003

It's that big, deep, breathy voice on the other end of the telephone that immediately identifies the caller. It's been a very good voice to legendary singer Tom Jones for 40 years.

Jones has just released "Reloaded" (UTV/Decca), an album of remastered greatest hits as well as some kickin' collaborations with the likes of Van Morrison, the Cardigans, the Stereophonics and Mousse T.

"The concept of the album was to include some of the very old, but also some of the new so people can hear what I do now, what I'm about now," Jones says. "The collaborations were just incredible. I went to Van and he was totally for it as long as we did it on one of his songs ['Sometimes We Cry'], which was totally fine by me. Just to sing with him, what a thrill. And working with the Stereophonics [on 'Mama Told Me Not to Come'] or Wyclef Jean for 'Black Betty' -- this is the kind of music I really love to do and what I want people to know that I can do."


*9 p.m. tonight through Sunday
*House of Blues, 320 N. Dearborn
*Tickets, $65
*(312) 923-2000

In-store CD signing
*2 p.m. Saturday
*Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark
*(773) 477-5994

When he's not making music, Jones has become a familiar face on television and movies, thanks to his starring role in the feature film "Mars Attacks," his incarnation on "The Simpsons" and his current stint as the singer of the theme song for "Duck Dodgers in the 24th and 1/2 Century," the Cartoon Network show set in the future.

"I've got a whole new audience at my shows because they've come to know me through cartoon shows," Jones says with a chuckle. "Of course, there are some folks who'd say I've been a cartoon most of my life."

Here's what else Jones had to say:

The biggest misconception about you: That my image as this fellow in tight pants overshadowed my talent, which I never meant to do.

What you would have been if you weren't a singer: Probably an artist. I used to draw and sketch a lot when I was younger.

Memories of Chicago: I first played Chicago as part of Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars in 1965. I've always loved the city. It has so many blues clubs, and that's really where my heart is musically.

Favorite musical collaboration: Jerry Lee Lewis. He was on my television show [in the 1960s]. As a kid, I was like, wow, he's the greatest. And then there I was doing a medley with him on my show.

The best advice you ever got: As a teen, I worked in a paper mill and one of the old guys there once told me, "I hear you have a voice -- go for it." That stuck with me always.

The best thing about your life as a cartoon character: It's opened up a whole new audience to my music. First on "The Simpsons" and now on "Duck Dodgers," where they've actually now drawn me as a character into an upcoming episode where they go back in time and I'm singing.

Singing with fellow Wales native Catherine Zeta-Jones: I had no idea she could sing so beautifully [before "Chicago"], which is why she wasn't on "Reload," my earlier duets album. But I'll have to give her a call to join me if I do another.

Working with Cerys Matthews (of Welsh rockers Catatonia): She's the rock version of Catherine. They have the same spirit, the same fire. The group broke up, so she's now in Nashville recording on her own and she's just incredible.

Most humbling experience: Any time you do any sort of charity fund-raiser. Every entertainer should do this because it's the greatest way we can give back. You don't know how great your own life is until you reach out to those extremely less fortunate than yourself.

Words to live by: Never take things for granted. I don't. Be happy with your life.

Miriam Di Nunzio


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