Tom Jones: ‘What’s In A Name?’

What’s in a name?” What indeed, if your name happens to be Tom Jones.

The full quotation from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”.

When you see the name “Tom Jones”, who immediately springs to mind?

Probably Sir Thomas John Woodward, OBE, or – as you would know him by his stage name – Tom Jones, the Welsh singer. Tom Jones was one of the most popular singers to emerge from the mid-1960s. Amazingly, Jones is still performing – at the age of 73 – before highly appreciative audiences.

Tom Jones has sold over 100 million records, including thirty-six Top 40 hits in the United Kingdom and nineteen in the United States; some of his notable songs include “It’s Not Unusual”, “What’s New Pussycat”, “Delilah”, “Green, Green Grass of Home”, “She’s a Lady”, “Kiss” and “Sex Bomb.”

Jones received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for “services to music” in 2006, and has received numerous other awards throughout his career.

And, what of the other Tom Jones – or should that be Tom Joneses – for there is more than one.

Well, firstly, there is “Tom Jones,” the 1963 British adventure comedy film which starred Albert Finney in the title role.

This adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling”, was one of the most critically acclaimed and popular comedies of its time, winning four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Directed by Tony Richardson, with screenplay by playwright John Osborne, the film featured an unusual comic style. The characters sometimes look directly into the camera and address the audience directly.

Then again, there is the Tom Jones who was born 1928, in Littlefield, Texas, and is an American lyricist of musical theater. His best known work is “The Fantasticks,” which ran off-Broadway from 1960 until 2002. He also wrote the screenplay for the 1995 feature film adaptation.

It’s not unusual for this Tom Jones to sit in the audience to watch a performance of his work. He did that most recently at the Ocala Civic Theater, where his iconic musical “I Do! I Do!” – which debuted on Broadway nearly 50 years ago – was updated and performed for two weeks this month.

After the show, he told a member of the cast that he was ready to rush home to Connecticut “and get to work” on this updated version so that he might get the chance to re-launch the show on Broadway.

So, those are the main options. Tom Jones, the singer, Tom Jones, the movie, or Tom Jones the lyricist.

Do you know of any others?