Engelbert Humperdinck Never Tires Talking ‘All About Love’

“It makes the world round,” Engelbert Humperdinck tells American Songwriter from his home in Beverly Hills, California. “Love makes the world go round.” 

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Dubbed the “King of Romance,” the subject of love is far from exhausted within Humperdinck’s vocabulary, or catalog, one spanning nearly six decades. “Romance is what starts a love life,” he says. “People love to hear things that relate to their relationship, and my stories are of that nature.” 

Love, it’s been the bedrock of Humperdinck’s career. The subject matter followed albums Release Me, The Last Waltz, A Man Without Love, and his eponymous 1969 release with hits “Winter World of Love” and the Burt Bacharach and Hal David-penned “I’m a Better Man.”

On May 2, 2023, Humperdinck turned 87. Removed from the more sedentary activities of most octogenarians, the balladeer commemorated the day by releasing a new album, a collection of songs centered around the sweetest spot of his career on All About Love.

A collection of 13 R&B and pop classics, on All About Love Humperdinck takes on the Bee Gees’1971 hit “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes R&B hit “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” along with a country-western take on the Barry White classic “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” — which reached nearly three million views on YouTube since its release in late 2022. All About Love also breaks down Lou Rawls’ 1970s hits “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” and “When Will I See You Again,” along with Mel & Tim’s “Starting All Over Again” and The Flamingos’ 1959 crooner “I Only Have Eyes For You.”

Restoring more songs of romance, All About Love follows Humperdinck’s 2021 EP, Regards. The latter project featured more soulful renditions of “Let It Be Me,” made famous by The Everly Brothers in 1977, Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away,” and the Louis Armstrong classic, “What A Wonderful World.” It also included his version of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” — complete with a Texas two-step arrangement — and a more orchestral rendition of Charles Chaplin’s 1936 Modern Times classic, “Smile,” which was also featured on Humperdinck’s 2020 EP Sentiments.

Working around covers, specifically released within the 1960s and 1970s, All About Love was more about connecting to a song for Humperdinck, rather than searching for new standards. “I don’t have any new songs, because it’s very difficult to find that new song that you can turn into a standard of your own,” he says. “Familiar sounds are what people like to hear, and that era — the’60s and 70s — was a very good era for great songs.”

Deeper into All About Love, Humperdinck revisits the 1940 bolero song “Bésame Mucho” with mariachi star Lupita Infante and closes the album with a Spanish-English duet of his 1968 hit “A Man Without Love (Cuando Me Enamoro),” featuring Mexican singer Angelica Maria, who also had a hit with the song in Mexico in the late ’60s.

“Angelica [Maria] agreed to do it with me because my song was a hit in America and all over the world, and hers was a big hit in Mexico, so the collaboration was made sense,” says Humperdinck. “She did it in Spanish and a little bit in English, and I did a little bit in Spanish and a little bit in English.” He laughs, “My Spanish is not too bad.”

“A Man Without Love,” originally written by Italian songwriters Daniele Pace, Mario Panzeri, Roberto Livraghi, peaked at No. 2 on the U.K. charts for Humperdinck and remained on the U.S. charts for more than a year after its release.

Reminiscing on songs further back in his collection, including “There Goes My Everything,” “Am I That Easy to Forget,” “After the Lovin’, and “This Moment in Time,” Humperdinck considers them all timeless.

“I still sing them in my show, so they really have good standing for me, because they don’t date,” says Humperdinck. “For instance, ‘Quando Quando Quando’ and ‘Spanish Eyes,’ these songs never die. They’re forever things.”

Originally released on A Man Without Love, “Quando Quando Quando” recently appeared in an episode of The Umbrella Academy, while “A Man Without Love” was featured in the 2022 Marvel Studios series Moon Knight. Both songs demonstrate Humperdinck’s cross-generational connections nearly 60 years on.

“I’ve got all generations across the board, in every age group,” he says. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve got fans in their teens.”

To this day, Humperdinck still marvels at stories of people still playing his 1967 No. 1 hit “The Last Waltz” at weddings and other special occasions. “That song is known all over the world,” says Humperdinck. “I was talking to somebody about it from another country, and they said, ‘Your song was played in my dancehall at the end of the night.’ It’s the last song played in dance halls around the world.” 

Humperdinck continues, “It’s totally amazing. I still hear how a song like ‘After the Lovin’ has had so much influence in people’s lives. Last week, someone else said, ‘We got married to After the Lovin.’ It’s beautiful.”

Following the 2021 death of his wife of nearly 60 years, Patricia Healey, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade, Humperdinck admits that he reads lyrics differently now. 

“Since I’ve lost my darling two years ago, I read lyrics a lot differently now,” shares Humperdinck. “I think there’s more depth and more meaning to it now for some reason or another. It’s just taken a different place in my heart.” 

He adds, “Each and every word becomes more meaningful before you read it as part of the content. Each becomes more meaningful, and you express it in a different way. It’s more heartfelt — not that it wasn’t before — but it’s even more so now.”

Just three years shy of 90, and tour-bound in 2023, with stops in Chile and the Philippines, Humperdinck says he’s not sure what comes next. But there will be something. 

“One never knows what the next project is going to be,” he says. “You just have to wait and something will strike.”

What is certain is the thing Humperdinck has always come back to in the end: love.

“I’m a love songwriter, so most of my songs are to do with love, but I also write poetry,” Humpedinck says. “I’m a poet, so I think writing lyrics comes quite easily for me, but melody’s a little bit more difficult.”

When it comes to melody, Humperdinck doesn’t hesitate to take advice from his daughter, singer Louise Dorsey — who also voiced the character of Jetta in the 1980s cartoon Jem. “She’s very good at lyrics,” shares Humperdinck. “She’s written many songs on my albums.” 

Though Humperdinck considered canceling his tour following his wife’s death, he continued on. Retirement hasn’t entered his lexicon just yet.

“It’s my job,” he says, “I love walking on stage. I love the feeling that I get — and especially now. I just want to keep singing for as long as I can. To be honest with you, I’ve got nothing. I’ve got no one to come home to, so I’d rather be on the road and sing.”

Photos: Craig Sotres / Courtesy of Reybee, Inc.

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