Continued from Part One…
Following on from that, do you ever find yourself overcome by the emotion of a particular song?
Many times, yes. As a matter of fact, I wrote a song for my wife about 30 years ago called “Everywhere I Go” [on 1993’s Yours – ed.] If you look it up and listen to it, you’ll understand what I mean with the lyrics, and it’s a wonderful arrangement by Bebu Silvetti. He did all these wonderful string arrangements for me – he did about six albums for me – and he did the arrangement for that particular one.
Since my wife has been gone, I sing “Everywhere I Go” in my show. I dedicate the song to her, and there’s many a night that I don’t get through it. It’s one of those things.
I would imagine that you take the audience with you on that emotional journey…
Yeah, I do see people weeping in the audience. And it’s something you can’t put on. It just happens, you know? There are nights when it won’t happen, but the majority of shows that I do, it does get me, because it was written for her. And it gets me.
You’ve been on stage countless times. To what degree are you able to get a sense of how the audience is reacting to your performance, and how does that factor into what you’re doing in real time?
Well, you can see the front rows. You can [see] what’s happening in the first few rows, and you can judge from that, what is happening throughout the audience.
Sometimes it’s rather surprising to the performer, like me, who sees the reaction of what takes place in an audience. Sometimes, when I’m singing a particular song, I can look down and see somebody reach over and touch the person’s hand and squeeze them, or put their arm around them. And it’s just amazing to see what transpires during a performance. It’s rather wonderful to think that you are responsible for that, actually.
There’s a new documentary, Engelbert Humperdinck: The Legend Continues. What can you tell me about it?
Well, I haven’t watched many documentaries in my life, but I watched this one because it’s about me! I did it a few years ago, and it was rather shocking, actually, because there were many touching moments in it that made me cry.
And I also was shocked at the fact that I must’ve been going through some trauma at that particular time, because I was 40 pounds heavier than I am today. It’s shocking to watch myself in that state, you know? When I look at myself today, I’m 200 pounds. At that particular time, it was in the middle of my wife’s illness and having to deal with doing my work plus the worry of what’s going on at home, you know? It was a hard time.
Are there any surprises in the film for audiences?
Well, they’ll see footage that they’ve never seen before about my children and growing up. They’ll see me talk about my life in a way that I’ve never done before. You see my humble beginnings, you know? It takes me back to the place where I first began, when I lived in a flat in Hammersmith, London. It had no carpet, no curtains, no light bulbs or lamp shades, and very [few] chairs to sit on. And it took me back to that era. I remember those wonderful days.
“The Hungry Years,” you know, which I had joy in singing, and it brought all sorts of memories back. If you listen to “The Hungry Years” [from 1976’s After the Lovin’], which I had joy in singing, it’s really my life story. I feel as though Neil Sedaka wrote it for me, but he didn’t. He wrote it for himself, so he must’ve been going through the same thing in his beginning.
Plenty of artists who’ve had successful careers retire when they’re 20 years younger than you are now. What motivates you to keep recording and performing?
It’s the passion I have. I don’t consider my job as work. When I walk on stage, it’s just a passion. It’s not hard work for me, not at all. I just love what I do, so therefore the passion strengthens my whole being. I just feel good about it.
If I didn’t want to perform, I wouldn’t get that feeling. But I love it. I love the performance, I love the reaction. And my audience feeds me with the passion that I love to portray.
You May Also Enjoy: My 2018 interview with Engelbert Humperdinck.