The Music and Passion of Barry Manilow
“Her name was Lola,
She was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair
And a dress cut down to there.”
Barry Manilow sang Copacabana when he made a guest appearance at Dancing with the Stars during the Samba and Salsa week of Season 2. My kids also watched the show with me and my two younger boys were making fun of Barry. They said that he looked like a bird with his hair ruffled like that. I know that Barry is not the macho kind of guy. Actually, he looked kind of geeky. But hey, I have been a fan of Barry’s music since the 1980’s and I was hurt when my kids laughed at him.
There, I said it. I am a fan of Barry Manilow. But I don’t know if I can call myself a Fanilow. I didn’t even know that this word existed until I saw that episode of Will & Grace a few years ago.
According to Wikipedia,
“A Fanilow is a name for someone who is a big fan of the singer Barry Manilow. The name originated in the 1970s when Barry Manilow was in the height of his popularity. It takes the “F” from Fan and the “anilow” from Manilow and makes a catchy nickname.”
Unlike Cheryl and the other characters in that Will & Grace episode, I don’t spend the night waiting in line for tickets to a special Barry Manilow concert. I haven’t even been to any of his concerts. And the only memorabilia I have of him is an old, almost worn-out cassette tape of Manilow Magic – The Best of Barry Manilow.
At a recent inteview, Barry said that it took him only 15 minutes to write Copacabana. Barry won a Grammy for this song for Best Pop Vocal Performance for 1978. Another reason my kids were making fun of the song is because of the name Lola, which is what they also call their grandma. (Lola is grandmother in the Filipino language.) They’re probably trying to visualize their grandma with yellow feathers in her hair dancing the merengue and the chacha.
Before Barry became famous, he was a commercial jingle writer and singer. Then he worked as a pianist, producer, and arranger accompanying Bette Midler. And did you know that, although he was known as a songwriter, he didn’t write most of his songs? Ironically, one of them being I Write the Songs.
“I write the songs that make the whole world sing
I write the songs of love and special things
I write the songs that make the young girls cry
I write the songs, I write the songs”
But it doesn’t matter to me. I still love his voice and the songs he sings.
My all-time favourite Barry Manilow song is Mandy. At first, I couldn’t understand why Barry was singing about Mandy until I realized that unlike in the Philippines, Mandy is actually a girl’s name here in North America.
“I never realized
you made me so happy, oh Mandy
Well you came and you gave without taking
but I sent you away, oh Mandy
well you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
I need you today, oh Mandy”
Another favourite is Weekend in New England. It talks about a very recent break-up and a yearning that’s still fresh.
“And, tell me when will our eyes meet
When can I touch you
When will this strong yearning end
And when will I hold you again
I feel the change comin’
–I feel the wind blow
I feel brave and daring!
I feel my blood flow
With you I can bring out
All the love, that I have
–With you there’s a heaven
So earth ain’t so bad”
I also like Looks Like We Made It. Barry sings about old lovers who are now in other relationships. The sight of her stirred old feelings in him.
“There you are
Lookin’ just the same as you did,
Last time I touched you
And, here I am
Close to gettin’ tangled up
Inside the thought of you
Do you love him as much as I love her
And will that love be strong
When old feelings start to stir
Looks like we made it
Left each other on the way,
To another love
Looks like we made it
Or I thought so, till today
Until you were there everywhere
And all I could taste was love
the way we made it”
Trying to Get The Feeling Again is not that popular, but I like the lyrics.
“Doctor, my woman is comin’ back home late today
Could ya’ maybe give me something?
’cause the feelin’ is gone and I must get it back right away
Before she sees that I’ve been
Up, down, tryin’ to get the feeling again
All around…. tryin’ to get the feeling again
The one that made me shiver, made my knees start to quiver
Every time she walked in”
Barry recently released a new CD titled, Barry Manilow The Greatest Songs of the Fifties. In that episode of Dancing With The Stars, he sang one of the tracks in his latest CD, Unchained Melody, which is another favourite of mine. My two younger boys started to giggle when Barry was singing. I told them to keep quiet and when they wouldn’t, I sent them out of the room. I’m sorry, no one messes with my Barry.
Oh my, am I a Fanilow, or what?
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