The number one artist on books, movies and more…
Tom Odell

Culture Clash is where we investigate the reading, listening and watching habits of pop sorts. And breakthrough pop sorts don’t come much bigger in 2013 than BRIT-winner Tom Odell, whose ‘Long Way Down’ debut came out in June and went to the top of the chart. His father may make the occasional angry call to music magazines, but clearly other relatives have passed on some useful cultural artefacts. Here are Tom’s hits and misses.

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Tom Odell, ‘Grow Old With Me’, from ‘Long Way Down’

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“I’d recommend The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, which I think my uncle gave to me when I was a teenager. It’s really quite simple: it’s about a man who goes out fishing, the story of a man and his fish. It’s so beautifully written, so profound, arguably Hemingway’s best work. I’m a big Hemingway fan: A Farewell to Arms is another one that I could have gone for, and The Sun Also Rises. Perhaps I’ll do a Hemingway concept album one day.”


“An album I’ve been listening to recently is ‘Court And Spark’ by Joni Mitchell. I grew up not massively into Joni Mitchell, I don’t know why, but in the past few years I’ve been progressively going through her albums and I’m just obsessed now. This is one of her early albums and I just can’t stop listening to it. I definitely think your tastes change as you get older. That record, for me it feels like a spring record, there’s a lot of joy and excitement in it.”


“I saw Gatsby and didn’t enjoy it. I’m a really big F Scott Fitzgerald fan and it’s one of my favourite books, The Great Gatsby. The joy of Fitzgerald’s writing is the subtlety, the long paragraphs of description of the surroundings, and I felt the film really missed the beauty of the book. But then you should never go and see the film of your favourite book. It’s never going to be the same.”

TV show

“I grew up in a family that watched a lot of TV and it completely drove me away from it. But on the tourbus one of the guys in the crew gave me a box set of The Sopranos, and it’s a tourbus ritual now: when I finish a show I go and watch The Sopranos. It’s worryingly addictive.”


“When I was about 13 I started doing a lot of songwriting, and my mum bought me a Yamaha dictaphone, and I’ve had the same one ever since. It’s got all my ideas on it; I’ve used it for probably every single song I’ve ever written. I don’t really travel anywhere without it, and I don’t know what I’d do if I lost it – it’s like my prized possession. I can trace back my entire record with it, where the ideas came from, and it’s quite a nice thing to have, remembering how you wrote things. I lose everything else, but I’d never lose that. I can’t bear to think about it.”

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Find Tom Odell online here

As told to Si Hawkins

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