Those who know me well knew it was only a matter of time before Barry Manilow showed up here. If you don’t share my love for all things Manilow you might want to just click right on out of here. I promise I’m only doing one Barry post in this series.
This is the cover of the very first Barry Manilow album that I had the joy of owning. I believe I got it for Christmas when I was in 6th grade, and I actually still have it. It’s practically worn smooth from use.
Oh yes – Mr. Manilow most certainly does write the songs that make the whole world sing, whether they want to or not. Want a demonstration? Just say this word out loud: Copacabana. Did the song immediately start playing in your head? Did you start singing out loud? You’re welcome for that little earworm.
I was and am an unabashed Barry fan (I feel like he wouldn’t mind if I called him that – after all, he’s been a part of my life for over forty years), ever since my stepsister introduced me to his music when I was around nine years old. I’d like to say it’s my dirty little music secret but really it’s not much of a secret at all. Despite the unrelenting teasing by my stepfather (he referred to Barry Manilow as “Ol’ Banana Nose”) I collected his albums and memorized every song, even and especially the VSM. (If you don’t know what it is check this video out and prepare to be amazed, or amused, or both)
I have great respect for nearly all musicians. It takes skill and confidence to get up onstage and play or sing for an audience who may or may not welcome you. If you can sing, or play, or write music, those are all fantastic skills. If you can do two of them, even better. But if you can write, play AND sing your own songs? That, my friends, is a true musician. There are a few of these triple threats around – love her or hate her, Taylor Swift is one – and although he didn’t write this particular song, Barry did write quite a few of his tunes. Yes, he’s a little bit cheesy but still talented.
At first listen you might think that only a puffed-up ego would sing about how he writes all the songs but I’d like to point out that he didn’t even write this song. It was written by Bruce Johnston, who is a member of the Beach Boys, and it was actually recorded by a couple of other people before Clive Davis brought it to Mr. Manilow. Barry didn’t even want to record it because it sounded so arrogant. (source here) Of course, at the end of the first verse we find out it’s actually music who writes the songs.
I finally finally got to see Barry in concert when I was all grown up, and it was every bit as special as I had hoped it would be. (Stop laughing.) (The hair in this video. The hair. Just how much hair spray is holding that up? And we wonder why the ozone layer is shrinking.)