Singer Aaron Neville: Seventy-five and "still alive"

Aaron Neville's music career
Aaron Neville's music career 02:49

On his big birthday, Aaron Neville wrote a poem to himself on his iPhone.

"Yeah, 75. I'm still alive," Neville read. "Seventy-five, seen a whole lotta jive. The mistakes that I made, for my sins I've paid."

At 75, Neville is still looking and sounding good, thanks to all his preparation.

"You know, people are living a lot longer these days and not preparing for it," Neville said. "I'm in the gym and you know, using my voice."

And he keeps his voice in shape as well -- all by singing. Neville has been singing since he was a boy growing up in New Orleans. His breakthrough came 50 years ago with his ballad, "Tell It Like It Is." At first, the song didn't impress him much.

"And I thought it was just a little simple song, you know? So I went in and sang it," Neville said.

"So when it caught on, what did you think?" "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Anthony Mason asked.

"I wanted this other song, you know? But my brother said, 'No, that's it. That's it.' And it rose up the charts like wildfire," Neville said. "Next thing you know, I was at the Apollo and on tour with Otis Redding, and it was cool."

"Tell It Like It Is" spent five weeks atop the soul chart. But Neville would also have his share of struggles. Two years ago in an interview with "CBS Sunday Morning," Neville opened up to Mason about the time he served in a New Orleans prison as a teenager for joyriding. Later, he was busted for drugs.

But in 1989, a duet with Linda Ronstadt helped reignite his career, also winning him the first of four Grammy Awards.

On his new album, "Apache," Neville wrote most of the lyrics himself.

"It helps me to just, you know, whatever -- if I'm going through something, I write about it and it makes it all right," Neville said.

Neville is sure glad he's made it to 75.

"Some of the people that were friends of mine are either dead, crazy or doing time. So I'm glad I'm still alive," a line in his poem reads.