Tom Jones is 81. An Elvis-like sex symbol in 60s Britain, and thus, easily lampooned. But Tom has one of the greatest singing voices ever. It's a force of nature. And he is a great interpreter of song. People who write songs dream of such a performer, someone who has the wisdom and talent to find and convey the very heart of their creations.
Listen to my thoughts on Tom Jones, and hear some of the great & lesser known songs in his extensive repertoire.
.My favourite thing about music is the way it's constantly changing. I find a style, a performer, I like and then it's a journey. I go with them wherever they might take me.
If you want to track the way music changes, pick a date, see what's playing, and then go forward, or back, about ten years. A decade is long enough to pick changes in styles, fads, and technology - all are big drivers of musical evolution.
So that's what I'm doing. I'm starting 80 years ago, in 1941. Big bands were playing war-time swing - singers were mostly one part of the act, rather than the stars.
The world was at war in 1941. Music was an important morale boost. Glen Miller, Memphis Minnie, The Inkspots,
Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller - were the big stars of 1941.
Listen to the music of 1941 here
1971 was a great year for music. The rise of the singer-songwriter, the shift from singles to albums. There was so much good music released that year, and one of the best of 1971, of any year, was Blue - by Joni Mitchell.
A poet, visual artist, musical prodigy. Joni came from Saskatoon, the Paris of the Canadian prairies, to be at the epicentre of late 60s culture, in California's Laurel Canyon. Joni rose on the folk music boom that, by 1971, contained, perhaps stifled her prodigious talents.
Joni left domestic bliss for a fabled world journey and a late night flight. She hung out with James Taylor, writing songs as if her life depended on it Then, in a Hollywood recording studio, Joni brought them to life, in what remains one of the greatest ever musical acts of creation.
Blue is a miraculous record, full of the joyful sounds of a young woman accepting the challenges and burdens of her talents, honouring them, and going wherever they would take her.
Listen to my radio story on Joni Mitchell's Blue.
Richard is a writer, podcaster, radio and TV broadcaster, an editor, and a lover of music. He tells the stories of how great songs are made, and of the people who make them.