Julio Iglesias, who has been variously described, in the more than fifteen thousand magazine articles that have been written about him, as the Spanish Sinatra, the Hispanic Humperdinck, the Valentino of the Eighties, and the Napoleon of Love, “Some people belong to history I do not. I sing songs.
When we sing songs, we represent what people want us to be. I am not Picasso.”
This is refreshing. First of all, it is refreshing to talk to a popular singer—and there is no singer in the world today more popular than Julio Iglesias—who doesn’t think he’s leading a psycho-sexual revolution to save either souls or whales.
Unlike that egregious Beatle, he hasn’t imagined himself as bigger than Jesus Christ. Being as big as, say, Maurice Chevalier would suit him just fine.
And it is refreshing to hear a popular entertainer mention a great artist, by way of establishing that very sense of perspective the mischievous Picasso specialized in violating. ‘Mr. Iglesias, after all, could have mentioned instead his manager or his agent; or his latest album with Willie Nelson and Stan Getz and Diana Ross and the Beach Boys; or his appearances on television with Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin and Barbara Walters; or his recent multimilliondollar contract to do for Coca-Cola whatever Michael Jackson did for Pepsi.
Would Engelbert Humperdinck or Tom Jones mention Constable or Hogarth? Would Neil Diamond or Wayne Newton mention Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning?
Mr. Iglesias mentions Pío Baroja, also. I will explain who Baroja was in a minute. But it is as if Frank Sinatra, in a casual interview, had mentioned William Dean Howells or Henry James. It is unlikely. Julio Iglesias is unlikely. Imagine Perry Como playing shortstop for the Dodgers. (Mr. Iglesias was a goalie for Real Madrid, the Spanish soccer team, before an almost-paralyzing automobile accident incapacitated him for two years.
At the hospital, a nurse gave him his first, serendipitous guitar.) Imagin Dean Martin or Vic Damone at the Harvard Business School, wanting to grow up Lee Iacocca. (Julio Iglesias studied law at Cambridge University, intending to become a diplomat, until, in 1968, one of his songs, “La Vida Sigue Igual,” won first prize at the Benidor music festival.) Imagine Eddie Fisher, married either to Debbie Reynolds or Elizabeth Taylor, and one of them is snatched by the Symbionese Liberation Army or the Ku Klux Klan. (Mr. Iglesias’s father, a Madrid physician, was kidnapped and held for several weeks,
In 1981, by Basque terrorists.) So what if Sammy Davis, Jr., endorsed Richard Nixon? Mr. Iglesias was a personal friend of Anwar Sadat. Certainly, some crooners are unlikelier, and more likable, than others.