The Voice

August 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

I came under the influence of “The Voice” from the television show, “This is Tom Jones” starting in1969.   Pardon the loose Stephanie Meyer’s Eclipse reference, but Tom Jones “imprinted” on me at an early, impressionable age.  Little did I know that with a click of the remote control, my life would be changed in a way I wouldn’t understand for years.  It seemed simple enough.  A teenage girl’s crush on a pop star – it’s not unusual, right?

It started with me and mom and Tom on Thursday nights.  Dinner and dishes and homework had to be done, and no one could disturb us while our world stopped for one hour each week.  I was 16-years-old, and she was in her forties, and that weekly bonding experience formed an appreciation for the singer that we enjoyed together and spanned over 40 years.

How often is there is a multi-generational appreciation for a singer?  What are the qualities that a singer possesses to attract the attention of several generations at the same time?  Is it the voice?  The music?  The lyrics?  The charisma?    Is the sound of the voice timeless?  How does it capture the listener’s ears without regard to the listener’s age?  Would my mother and I have both listened to Tom Jones music, never having seen him on TV?  Yes.  But I must admit, I’m prejudiced.  I think Mom and I would have had fun rocking out dancing and ironing to the Live from Las Vegas album, whether or not we had seen him dance and belt out those same songs during his concert segments on the show.

“The Voice” was big and full-bodied in 1969, and continues to be as dynamic and flexible in 2010.  I remember Tom Jones being referred to as a tenor in his early days, but most reviewers now refer to him as a baritone.  His voice can go big and build with horns, or soft and subtle with strings.  It has a huge range, which resonates with any style of music — classics, pop, rock, country, soul, blues, or gospel.  His new CD, Praise and Blame, is, artistically speaking, a brilliant example of his vocal range –  its power and depth, and its ability to withhold, control, and soften.  In Praise and Blame, we hear a voice that is beautiful and lyrical singing Bob Dylan’s “What Good Am I?.”  And then, singing Johnny Lee Hooker and Bernard Besman’s “Burning Hell,” his voice is raw and guttural.

At the young age of sixteen, I was living in my own burning teenage hell. “The Voice” stirred me in a way nothing else did.  I had no power. I had depth, but didn’t understand it or know what to do with it.  And I reached a point at which I could no longer control or interpret my life in a normal way.  And so, for me, the saving grace came in the form of a voice.  My lifeline was the voice… of the singer who saved me.

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