J is for Tom Jones

No, not that Tom Jones.  Too bad, because he’s at the top of my list – one of the best voices ever.  Back in 1969, I didn’t understand why women tossed their underwear on stage when he sang.  Come on, I was eleven.  I get it now.



This is the one, the “other” Tom Jones.  His best-known musical, for which he wrote the lyrics, is “The Fantasticks.”  I would imagine just about every high school theatre department has put on a production of “The Fantasticks.”   Some beautiful songs emerged from this long-running musical, including “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” and “Much More.”  But one song rose above the others:  “Try to Remember,” with words like fellow, billow, pillowwillow, and of course, follow.

My sister taught me this song while we’d stand at the end of our long driveway, waiting for the school bus.  We lived in Johnston then, when it was still rural, and our white house sat way back from the road, which was actually US Route 6.  There was a reservoir across the road, but because the road was a highway, we couldn’t cross it.  Ever.  My sister must have been taught the song by our mother.  I also heard it on the radio, WLKW in the morning.  We’d mimic all the ‘follows,’ giggling through it.  When I listen to it now, my heart is full of memories.

The first person to sing this song on Broadway was Jerry Orbach, before he became known to television viewers through Law & Order.  Others who have sung it include Andy Williams, Harry Belafonte, Julie Andrews, and The Brothers Four.  Here is Ed Ames singing – he made it famous on Broadway and on the radio.