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In any language, Julio Iglesias is at popular pinnacle


If Spanish has been the the loving tongue for Julio Iglesias, he hasn't done badly in other tongues, either.

His first English-language album, 1984's "1100 Bel Air Place," sold more than 3 million copies and spawned the hit single "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," a duet with Willie Nelson.

That last fact, you might think, would be good reason for Mr. Iglesias to pick a Nelson song as the title track for his new English-language album, "Crazy."

Except, "I didn't know 'Crazy' was a Willie Nelson song," Mr. Iglesias says with a laugh. "I only heard it a year ago."

No matter. Everything has been arranged to maximize this record's chances of becoming another hit: the familiarity for English-speaking audiences of "Crazy" and "Let It Be Me"; background vocals by Art Garfunkel and Sting, and a duet with Dolly Parton on "When You Tell Me That You Love Me."

Duets are a familiar item on the Iglesias English-language menu, and the Parton track uses the same trick employed when Mr. Iglesias recorded on Frank Sinatra's "Duets" album: The two never met.

"She did her part, I did mine," he says. "I wanted to sing with her, but it's a funny thing with my duets -- they've all been arranged through the record company. So this song with Dolly, it was a beautiful accident."

Modest remarks like that punctuate Mr. Iglesias' conversation. Ask whether he considers himself successful in the English-language market, and he says: "Not yet. I feel you need to last through two generations to be successful."

That has not been a problem for the 50-year-old Mr. Iglesias in his native Spain, where he began singing almost 30 years ago. He actually sings in six languages -- "Crazy" includes tracks in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian -- but it's Spanish where he has racked up the bulk of his 960 gold and 350 platinum records. Those spring from about 70 albums, most in Spanish.

"I enjoy singing in different languages," Mr. Iglesias says. "The problem is, you can't express yourself in English the same way you would in Spanish or French. It's like playing tennis with the right hand or the left hand. Some songs you can do in one language, you cannot do in another.

"I will do a basic album in Spanish, perhaps 15 to 20 songs, then I go to my producers and we decide what we could include on an album in another language. It depends on the lyrics, the translations and how I feel about it. If I put out an album in French, I want to be able to sing it in France in that language."

There's also a marketing factor: "If you are from the Mediterranean region, like I am, you have to sing in English to enter the English-speaking market. But if you are English-speaking, you don't need another language to enter the world market."

Whatever the tongue, Mr. Iglesias says he just likes to sing. He has performed more than 3,000 concerts and has used his celebrity to promote causes from UNICEF to NAFTA.

In fact, in his teens Mr. Iglesias wanted to become a diplomat, before he discovered soccer and signed with Spain's professional Real Madrid team at 19 as a goalkeeper. After he was temporarily paralyzed in an auto accident, a doctor gave him a guitar to entertain himself during his two-year rehabilitation. The rest is gold and platinum history.

Music, he says, pretty much took over his life. The romantic ballads and the matinee-idol image aside, he brushes aside talk of his private life: "I don't have much interest in a private life. After many years in the public eye, about the only thing I en

joy very much is my professional life. I love what happens onstage, getting my music to people."

Logically enough, he expects to sing as long as he has a voice. "What else am I going to do?" he says. He laughs again. "What else can I do?"

But he also wants you to know that he's not taking anything for granted. "I'm very insecure," he says. "Every time I am called in nTC to make an album, I'm afraid it's going to be the last time they will want me."

Not very likely.


What: Julio Iglesias

Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion

When: Wednesday

Tickets: From $22.25 to $52.25

Call: (410) 481-7328 for tickets, (410) 730-2424 for information


To hear excerpts of Julio Iglesias' "Crazy," call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call (410) 268-7736; in Harford County, (410) 836-5028; in Carroll County, (410) 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6115 after you hear the greeting.

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