The singer behind hits like “It’s Not Unusual” and “Green Green Grass of Home” turned in a sterling full band performance, intimate but powerful in the same way many of Jones’ songs have captured our cultural imagination for decades. Tom Jones sings Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee,” infusing it with his one-of-a-kind vocals and infectious passion. He also takes on Malvina Reynolds’ folk tune “There’s No Hole In My Head” and turns it into a fierce statement about being yourself.
NPR also shed some light on the performance’s third song, “I’m Getting Old.” A statement read, “When Tom Jones was 33, and after one of his infamous shows in Las Vegas, jazz composer Bobby Cole presented him with the song ‘I’m Growing Old.’ With lyrics including ‘I’m growing dimmer in the eyes / I’m growing fainter in my talk / I’m growing deeper in my sighs / I’m growing slower in my walk.’ Tom Jones didn’t feel old enough to do it justice, but he held on to it. His performance here brought me to tears and is well worth the wait.“
Jones performed alongside Ethan Johns on guitar, Nick Pini on bass, Stephanie Ward on keys, and Jeremy Stacey on drums.
NPR also added some context to the performance, saying the following: “We’re publishing this Tom Jones Tiny Desk (home) concert on his 81st birthday. It’s a poignant moment in the life of a singer whose career spans 56 years and more than 100 million records sold; the passing of his wife, Linda, in 2016 after 59 years of marriage was devastating and resulted in the longest break between recordings of his career. But now Tom Jones is back with a new album, Surrounded By Time, and ready to share his deepest feelings, channeling songs by others with a voice still rich and muscular. It’s a triumphant return to the Tiny Desk (his first visit was in 2009), and it’s the first time he’s performed these songs since recording them last year.”