Yep, I’m a Fanilow

The first album I recall owning was Donny Osmond:  Portrait of Donny.  As a young girl, I was wowed by Donny’s looks and voice.   But this post is not about him.  (Sorry, Donny.)  



You see, as I matured, I discovered a man who not only sang beautiful songs but wrote them!  And that brilliant composer was a Jewish guy with a large nose and a large piano named Barry Manilow.  At the time that I started listening to Barry, he wasn’t that popular yet.  But I purchased the Barry Manilow Live two-album set and listened over and over.  One of my favorites on the album was a medley of jingles:

This was the guy who co-wrote and sang the Bandstand Boogie for American Bandstand which we watched and danced with in our living rooms every Saturday morning!  From Could It Be Magic to Looks Like We Made It to Copa Cabana, his tunes were catchy and his lyrics were engaging.  He kept releasing albums, and I kept buying.  Even after I discovered disco, then rock, and even heavy metal, I still loved Barry Manilow.  I owned more records of his than of anyone else.

My album collection + Ultimate Manilow CD

When I was a teenager, I attended a concert with Barry Manilow at the Summit in Houston, where I sat in the nosebleed section but my attention was rapt the whole time.  I remember thinking how cool it would be to write songs or to be up on stage singing with Barry.  Mind you, I never thought Barry Manilow was particularly cool, but his music was.

Fast forward to me all grown up and living in the Houston area with my family.  It’s been many years since I bought a Barry album or even attended many concerts of anyone.  Yet, my friend Paula tells me that Barry Manilow is coming to the Toyota Center in Houston and she’s getting a group together to go see him.  Well, hello!  I’m there!  And interestingly enough, we two aren’t the only ones.  Ah, we closet Fanilows.

It was GREAT!  Even after all those years, Manilow entertained wonderfully with amazing energy and fun.  There were women in boas everywhere, and we all knew the lyrics to Copa Cabana and were dang proud of it!

Here we are (I'm second to last on right)
And here HE is!

So why on earth am I confessing that I’m a Fanilow now?  Well, in my quest now to be a writer, I realize that it may have started with the likes of Barry Manilow.  Here are a few tips I learned from this songwriter:

Start Somewhere.  Barry Manilow started as a composer and singer in the jingle business, as an arranger for other talents, and as a piano player in gay bathhouses for Bette Midler’s wild show.  Sometimes, we want our debut on the writing scene to be earth-shattering, but before we get too caught up in our presumed brilliance, we should remember that most successful people start small and work their way up to the string of best-sellers.

Give It Your All.  If you watched that VSM (Very Strange Medley) video, you can see that Manilow is singing his heart out on those jingles.  Many of his songs build up to a big finish, in which he gives it everything he has to get his point across.  I still like that.  Whether you are writing a fiction trilogy or your next blog post, you should give it your all in that moment.

Remember Who You Are.  Throughout his career, Barry Manilow has remembered who he is, what he uniquely qualified to offer.  There is a Manilow signature sound, and that’s a good thing.  He doesn’t try to be something he isn’t.  I hope I do the same in my writing.  Authenticity is an important trait for authors to have.

Have Fun.  If you aren’t having fun at this, maybe you should do something else.  I love watching music artists who revel in what they do.  Some of my favorite concerts include Manhattan Transfer, Yes (reunion tour), and Huey Lewis and the News.  They all seemed to love being on stage and performing music.  That energy was contagious.  I am absolutely blessed to be able to stay home and write, write, write!  And while it is hard work, it’s also a blast!  In fact, at this point, maybe I’d rather be writing than singing on stage with Barry.

In case you think we Fanilows are just “uncool,” I submit the awesome episode from Will & Grace appropriate entitled “Fanilow.”  Here’s a short clip:

And by the way, Barry Manilow’s autobiography, The Sweet Life, is a great read.

Who did you grow up listening to?  Are you a closet fan of someone?  What is your favorite Barry Manilow song?  What have you learned from your childhood favorites?

10 thoughts on “Yep, I’m a Fanilow

  1. I grew up listening to country music…because my parents did. I was always struck by the story of Loretta Lynn and how much adversity she overcame to become famous. I have to say this: I love the nuggets of wisdom you drew from listening to Barry Manilow. Sometimes, when I'm feeling very frustrated, I think about how hard people like Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan had to work to get *that* good at playing guitar. 😀

  2. What great inspiration! All great points.I grew up listening to The Beatles. My dad was a huge fan. While they are obviously way before my time, I grew to love them because my dad did. Their lyrics are so unique and many of the songs are still poignant today.I think another thing that is inspiring about a person like Barry Manilow, and Paul McCartney, is that they keep on going and still love it as much today as they did then. My brother recently saw Paul McCartney in concert and he said it was amazing. He sang for 2 hours straight with no water before intermission. Then there was a short break and he came back for more. He said they guy was just a powerhouse! I hope to be going that strong after so many years.

  3. Great way to tie in your Manilow experience with writing. No one in my family liked Manilow, but I like several of his songs. He's got some great lyrics, and of course Mandy is a classic.

  4. GREAT post, Julie! It made me giggle at first, but then I really liked how you explained how his music still benefits you today. I like his song, Mandy, but that's about it….Who did I listen to growing up? The New Kids on the Block, and I still know the words today; Wham, oh yes, I did!; and my favorite bed-time music was Night Ranger's Sister Christian. 🙂

  5. My music growing up was VARIED. Mom loves showtunes, Dad was a Latin percussionist before us kids came along…older brothers brought home cool music from college…I listened to The Beatles White Album, my first concert was Phish, my first Broadway play was Jekyll and Hyde…But the one that makes me think of my Northeastern upbringing and likely erases my cool factor is: Billy Joel. I probably know EVERY single song. 🙂

  6. Okay, if there's a singer that it's a little embarassing, it's probably George Michael. I just like the way he sings because he really does have a good voice. I can't find anything inspirational about him as a person, though!Also I LOVE disco! Boogie Man by KC and the Sunshine Band is a total blast. :=)

  7. The Beatles are a great mention b/c they worked their tails off at a club in Germany before they made it big. Loretta Lynn also went through a lot to get to where she ended up.I like some Wham and George Michael songs also, but not anywhere close to my Manilow music! LOL.

  8. I'm going to forward this to a friend. She loves Barry Manilow and is very proud of the fact that she's like number 30 in his fan club. Anyway, I've seen Barry in concert once. I like his song Mandy. I had a great time at the concert. He really puts on a great show.I am a huge soap opera fan and loved listening to Jack Wagner songs when I was young. I also liked New Kids on the Block, Billy Joel, and Garth Brooks. A bit varied, I know.

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