I really, viscerally do not get why Tom Jones was as famous as he was.
Am I too young? Cynical? Just squeamish about men who wear their shirts unbuttoned too far?
(Yes, yes, YES.)
Similarly, I really viscerally Do Not Get the song "It's Not Unusual". But I still love it. And here's why.
(First off, for interest and because I love covers, let's make a chain of them:
The Supremes covering "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones
Tom Jones covering "Kiss" by Prince
Prince covering "A Case Of You" by Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell covering "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" by Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley covering "Funny How Time Slips Away" by Willie Nelson [LOVE this one.]
Willie Nelson covering "Without A Song" [also recorded by The Supremes, so we'll call that bringing it back around.])
But back to "It's Not Unusual", in its original version, two facts I was recently interested to learn:
1. This song was recorded by Jones as a demo for the singer Sandie Shaw, who apparently liked his version so much (and who wouldn't!) that she insisted he keep it.
2. The keyboards in the original are played by a talented young guy with the snappy name of Reginald Dwight.
And the reason why I love "It's Not Unusual", after so much fanfare, is:
I still don't know. There are many lines to make you smile with the sheer joy of the absurd. (My personal fave is "I wa-hanna diiiie", but my friend Emma Claire Foley just also made a strong case for "Why can't this crazy love be miiiii-iiiii-iiiiine?")
Maybe that's what it is, "the sheer joy of the absurd".
The song: Tom Jones, "It's Not Unusual"; 1965
Or maybe it's just that Tom Jones is the most fabulously un-self-aware himself person to ever walk this earth. The nemesis, one might say, of the Billy Joel archetype.
If one were into saying crazy things like that.