Bob Dylan failed to impress Tom Jones until one iconic song won him over

23 May 2023, 15:10

Tom Jones "wasn&squot;t struck" by Bob Dylan&squot;s singing voice after hearing it for the first time.
Tom Jones "wasn't struck" by Bob Dylan's singing voice after hearing it for the first time. Picture: Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

Bob Dylan's vocals have forever proved to be a point of contention.

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The folk-rock icon revolutionised music in the 1960s with his approach to songwriting, drawing from folk traditions throughout the ages, both revitalising the genre and paving a new path for artists that followed him.

Still considered to be unrivalled in terms of lyricism, Bob Dylan's profound and singular talent saw him win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.

To win such a coveted award so late in his career proves that his mastery as a wordsmith has never faded.

But his ability as a lyricist has never been questioned - it's his singing voice that has always turned people off of his music.

Whilst many feel his unconventional vocals provide the perfect foil for the emotional depth in his songs, others just don't find it particularly impressive.

For some listeners, his voice has proved to be a bit of a distraction from the profundity of his lyricism.

That precisely how powerhouse singer Tom Jones felt after hearing Bob Dylan for the first time at the peak of his cultural impact during the early 1960s.

Admitting to not being bowled over by the hype at first, the Welsh icon did admit that it was one song in particular that transformed his opinion of the music legend.

Tom Jones in 1967. (Photo by Ivan Keeman/Redferns)
Tom Jones in 1967. (Photo by Ivan Keeman/Redferns). Picture: Getty

In a conversation with The Guardian in 2022, Tom Jones recalled how he wasn't impressed when hearing Dylan's voice.

"I was on tour in the States in the summer of ’65 with a British act, Peter and Gordon,” Jones remembered.

"It turned out Gordon Waller was one of Dylan’s biggest fans and would play his records in the hotel stop-overs during the tour."

"I wasn’t struck by Dylan’s voice at first" he continued. But the singer, who was 25 at the time he first heard Dylan, revealed it was one of the folk poet's now-classics that won him over.

"But then I heard 'Blowin' in the Wind', and I’ve been a fan ever since. The lyrics are fantastic. He’s basically asking, ‘How many times do we have to go through all this shit before we realise that we’re fucking up the world?'"

From then onwards he got to grips with Dylan's unique talent, saying: "He paints pictures with his songs so you can see things happening."

"What good am I if I just stand by and let things happen that I know I should be changing? He was the first singer-songwriter to make me think."

Blowing In The Wind (Live On TV, March 1963)

Turns out it wasn't just one Bob Dylan song that Tom Jones connected with. He covered Dylan's 1989 song 'What Good Am I' for his 2010 album Praise & Blame.

For Tom Jones' 2021 album, Surrounded By Time, he covered Bob Dylan once again, this time choosing 'One More Cup of Coffee' from the 1976 album Desire.

Talking about his reasons for covering Dylan's work once again in 2021, Tom Jones took to his Instagram to explain why he chose the song as a single.

"Now this one to me, it just reminds you of things that maybe you have done that you shouldn’t have done. Or you’ve been to places that you shouldn’t have been."

"You know, when I was young, you’re young, and you go to places sometimes and you think, ‘oh no, I might be out of my depth here'" he continued.

"So then it’s like ‘One more of this or maybe I will try that one more time.’ So I’m sure we have all got stories like that, and this is a reminder to sort of try and stay away from temptation, whatever is tempting for you."

"It’s just a reminder to try and fight off the temptations and get out of there before you have to go down to the valley below," the Welsh music icon concluded.

Tom Jones - One More Cup Of Coffee (Official Lyric Video)

Tom Jones' talent behind the microphone wasn't lost on Bob Dylan either, when the usually evasive artist was asked his opinion on the singer's own work.

In 1965, Dylan was touring the UK for the first time and took part in Melody Maker magazine's 'Blind Date' feature where certain artists would review single releases from the week.

When reviewing Jones' most recent release 'That’s What We’ll All Do' Dylan responded: "That’s Tom Jones. I like this record; I like him."

"Will it be a hit? Do you mean, ‘Will it sell a lot of records?’ Oh yeah! I don’t know where it will sell a lot of records, but it will do. I’d buy it… if I bought records."