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Julio Iglesias: Bilingual Balladeer, Hitmaker

Julio Iglesias 70th Birthday

Julio Iglesias' heart still beats for all the girls he loved before. — Israel Leal/AP Images

En español  | When Julio Iglesias, the iconic Spanish singer (and former Real Madrid goalkeeper!) who has been generating hit singles for 40 years, turned 70 a few years back, it seemed a natural time to release a two-CD retrospective of his career. Indeed, the only thing forced about that 2013 releasemay have been its awkward title: 1 Greatest Hits.

Listen to the memorable duets — among them "All of You" with Diana Ross, "Summer Wind" with Frank Sinatra, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" with Willie Nelson — and you're immersed again in the power of his mellifluous voice. (Paul Anka, Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton join him on other tracks.)

See also: The Rolling Stones "50 & Counting"

Julio Iglesias with sons Enrique and Julio Jose in Hawaii

Sons Enrigue and Julio José, now 38 and 40, have followed in Julio Iglesias' footsteps and become singers. — Alvaro Rodriguez/Cover/Getty Images

Now, Iglesias, who turns 72 in September, savors his every waking moment — literally.

"I'm locked in a battle with sleep these days," he says. "When I was younger, sleep appealed to me because I was tired all the time. These days, I love the concept of waking up more than anything else."

Recently, Iglesias spoke with AARP about his views on entertaining, love and family:

Q: With your 70th birthday coming up, has your view of getting older changed?

A: I feel like I'm floating off in a hot-air balloon. The earth keeps getting farther away, and I'm afraid the balloon will crash to the ground. Actually, I'm not that anxious about it, really. I've lived a very fortunate life. I don't believe in fate, and I've always taken advantage of the opportunities that came my way.

Q: In concert you entertain the audience with stories about your life and career. Why did you start doing that?

A: A singer is a storyteller at heart. People want to see an artist's true feelings, his vulnerability. They enjoy that. I remember watching Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. do the same thing. One time I went to see Sinatra and he had lost his voice, but he didn't cancel. He just stood out there and told stories about his life. He got a good 10 standing ovations at the end.

Q: You had a reputation as a man with access to more women than a Roman emperor.

A:  I wish it was the way you describe it! [Laughs] A real love affair — the good kind, the beautiful kind — happens only once or twice in our lives. The opportunity to kiss a woman without getting slapped in the face, I don't think I've taken advantage of that too often. I was never quick on my feet for that kind of thing. I was always a late bloomer.

On the other hand, I've been a privileged man when it comes to bringing two pairs of eyes together. (By that I mean when a woman looks at you with interest.) As a kid, I had so many uninterested eyes on me. After the car accident that ended my soccer career, my parents were the only people interested in me. So I've enjoyed the return of those "interested" looks.

Q: Your son Enrique has become a well-known singer too. Does being in the same business complicate your relationship?

A: For a number of reasons, Enrique and I are a bit distant at times. He wants it that way — he probably needs it that way. We never talk about music. I miss him a lot, and so do my kids (the little ones). At home they listen to the music of Enrique and Julio Jr. My own stuff is totally out of fashion for them. I admire Enrique because he has achieved the difficult feat of surpassing his father.

Q: Your tour schedule seems just as hectic as ever.

A: Next week I'm in Russia, the following month in China, then South Africa. I'm living through a moment of complete gratitude for everything that's happened before. I've learned from life — if I hadn't, I'd still be stuck in the 1970s. That was a wonderful decade, mind you, but if I hadn't changed, I couldn't have worked with artists like Sting or Stevie Wonder. Learning has been vital to me. It's my only aspiration, really: to continue learning, and to keep doing what I do.

Ernesto Lechner writes about entertainment for AARP En Espanol.

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