French singer Charles Aznavour is back for a new North American concert tour, and it's not to say farewell.
"I just wrote a song saying I will not say goodbye," says the 87-year-old crooner of his upcoming concerts in Montreal, Quebec City, Los Angeles and New York.
Instead, he thinks of the tour as a kind of homecoming to places that bring back youthful memories.
"I love New York," he said in an interview with AFP as he recalled his debut in a nightclub here along with pianist Pierre Roche.
In their early days, they would sometimes play poker "to pay for a hot dog," Aznavour said.
"I came here in 1948," he said. "We had a contract almost immediately... We were hired for a week or two, we stayed for five weeks."
He said his ability to sing in French made him more appealing.
"From there, we left for Canada and we stayed there for almost three years," Aznavour said.
"In Canada, I'm home," he said. "They are open, they are smiling, they love to laugh, they like sweet things and so do I."
"In my business, you always come back to the scene of the crime," he said.
Each audience will get a different show during the nine performances of Aznavour's mini-tour, during which he also plans to attend his granddaughter's wedding April 21 on the eve of his only concert in Los Angeles.
In Montreal and Quebec City from April 10 to April 14, he plans to mix old and new songs.
In New York on April 26, 27 and 28, he intends to stick to the "essentials," like "La Boheme," "Take Me Away" and "Die for Love."
Wearing a white scarf and purple sweater, he wraps up a press conference in English.
He wonders whether he should sing in three languages in New York: French, English and Spanish, "because there are also many people here who speak Spanish."
"And if someone insists, I will sing in Italian and even a half-song in Russian," he joked.
He has cut some songs from his repertoire over the years, even some of the most famous.
"I do not like being bored in a song," Aznavour said. "When someone has sung something for a long time, and if you don't renew the way the song is presented, I prefer to leave it rather than become mechanical on stage. I like to have fun on stage, and I do enjoy myself when I am reinvented."
Age is becoming an issue for him, he admits.
"Physically, I'm not the man I was," Aznavour said. "I have fatigue that I did not used to get. I moved around, often I danced on stage, I cannot do it any more."
But his audience, he said, comes to hear his lyrics, and is tolerant.
"I have a chair on stage," he said. "When I feel I'm getting a little bit tired, I sing my song sitting. The audience knows very well, we age."
During his career, Aznavour has written nearly 1,000 songs. He recently completed a musical and still claims to be working "a lot."
"There are two things I cannot stop doing, that's writing and singing," he said as he mentioned his "happiness" about being on stage.
On the other hand, after playing roles in more than 50 movies in 70 years, he now refuses to do film.
Does he have other plans for the months and years ahead?
"Living", he replies with a big smile. "This is a great project. I do a smashing job of it."