Date: 02/17/2010 Print This Post



He’s the most famous Spaniard of the 20th century. Appealing to his own Latin people with a very Latin resonance of voice and attitude that loses ground to modernity. Seducing all others with what they miss most; passion expressed with elegance. Yet to many he stands for an essence anchored in tradition. Julio Iglesias, in this recording more than any other, is poised toward what is yet to come.

Not long ago he said he was barely beginning to learn to sing. It was no false modesty. In spite of his unmistakable talent as a vocal stylist and his unprecedented success, Julio Iglesias has never stopped living his vocation, that of apprentice. In “NOCHE DE CUATRO LUNAS” (Night Of Four Moons), there are few remnants of the extravagant style that propelled him to fame- except for his Voice, which is full of energy and yet torn asunder by feeling.

His voice, here more Mediterranean, more gypsy than ever, more possessed, a voice that first cried out in pain. Everyone knows how the 19 year-old boy, who has just signed as goalie to the junior team of the legendary Real Madrid soccer club, is paralyzed by an automobile accident. He will never walk again, they say. During the months of convalescence, he is given a guitar as therapy for his fingers. That’s how the soccer player becomes a musician.

He sings. He composes. In 1968, his composition, “La Vida Sigue Igual” (Life Goes On The Same), wins the Benidorm Song Festival in Spain. He enters more Festivals and he keeps winning. A star is born, rising quickly to become the World’s best selling male vocalist and the seller of more records in more languages in the history of the record industry. He records duos with an impressive Lineup of stars: Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Sting.

In the recording studio, he is a man obsessed. He records and re-records a single phrase until he reaches a perfection of sound that only he can hear. On Stage, he moves little – in contrast with his contemporaries of the rock Revolution and he acts with a bewitching mix of classical elegance, casual ease and a touch of shyness. Although the basis of the Julio Iglesias sound is a meticulously arranged pop orchestration, he moves into different genres – tango, salsa, rumba flamenco, bolero, and American songs. Always exuding a romantic image framed by la dolce vita (the sweet life). That image will earn him the sympathy of a public that longs for what they see as a posh fantasy life: his world of sports cars, beautiful models, great mansions and fine wines. But there is more to him than that.

Within his throat one can hear the lament of the Mediterranean song. The lament that is embodied in the first word of almost all flamenco lyrics: Ay! The quintessence of grief. This is the hook – even more than his air of casual Bon Vivant, which makes his singing irresistible. The bulk of his work is made up of love songs and love songs are nearly always songs of lost

love, of love grieved. Ay! Curiously, now that he has retired from the facile hedonism of his earlier life, now that he is devoted to family life, now is when that current of Spanish Grief can really flow. A current that can be heard in almost all the songs of “NOCHE DE CUATRO LUNAS”, in all the strains of flamenco guitar that move in and out of the songs. Rooted in the security of home life – the quiet life of a father, Julio Iglesias throws himself into the game all great artists play with the darkness.

But this does not mean the album is sad. On the contrary. There is salsa and merengues, funky riff and hot rhythms. For years now, Julio Iglesias has lived with his Latin brothers and sisters, taken in the breeze of the tropics, and picked up those party grooves. But his pleasure now is not frivolous, it’s deep and artistically bold. Julio Iglesias has taken by storm all of the world’s markets, all the continents, with multimillionaire sales in multiple languages. But instead of hanging on to successful formulas, Julio Iglesias charts new courses in this recording.

At once young and seasoned, Julio Iglesias vigorously joins the redefinition of Latin pop that has been crafted by recent figures like Alejandro Sanz, with his hit “Corazón Partío” (Broken Heart). Julio Iglesias sings here, as well as his new “Seremos Libres” (We Shall Be Free). Julio interprets two Songs, “Día a Día” (Day By Day) and “Vida” (Life) by Panamanian genius Ruben Blades, another restless innovator. He has fun with Brazilian pop in “Dos Corazones, Dos Historias” (Two Hearts, Two Stories), a hit song of the duo Zeze di Camargo & Luciano, as well as Arakeru’s “Mal Acostumbrado” (Spoiled), and “Mamacita” (Little Mama).

He makes all these songs his. Although the arrangements and rhythms vary, they all seem to have been written by him, or for him, which is literally the case in Estefano’s “Gozar la Vida” (Enjoy Life), “Me Siento De Aqui” (I Feel Like I’m From Here) and “Noche De Cuatro Lunas” (American Lady), with English lyrics sung by one of its authors, Robi Rosa, while the Spanish version was penned by Estefano and Julio Iglesias himself.

All this work can be read as an autobiography and a philosophy of life: a struggle for survival and triumph, an enduring acceptance of mistakes and suffering, a romantic melancholy that does not get in the way of life’s total enjoyment – as fulfilling in the mature present as it was in the first flush of youth.

“Between heaven and hell . . .” is how Julio Iglesias has lived, as he sings in “Te Voy A Contar Mi Vida.” (I’m Going To Tell You My Life). Let’s let him tell it to us because as always, it is Julio Iglesias who can say it best. “I lost, I won, I suffered, I fell, and I got myself up again . . .”