Friday, March 10, 2006

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?


handyfemme said...

Hehe, so Fanilow din ba ako? I have most of the songs you mentioned in my mp3 player. :)

karen said...

tatay ko fanilow din! lumaki akong memorized lahat ang kanta ni barry manilow =)

myepinoy said...

Ito ang favorite kong album "Barry Manillow 2am cafe".

Happy weekend.

Sidney said...

I am also a fanilow but I think the youth are more interested in other singers...
That is life... Things are moving so quickly nowadays.

Senor Enrique said...

Your kids might appreciate the cover version of Mandy by the boy band Westlife.

I never really appreciated Barry Manilow's music until only a few years back; although I've become an instant fan of Beth Midler since her debut TV performance at Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. From what I understand, back then, Manilow played the piano for Midler's midnite shows at Continental Baths in NYC. It was at this gay spa that a talent scout discovered and booked Midler at the Tonight Show.

Anyway, the music by Manilow that I would even find myself singing (karaoke) at family parties are: Mandy and Looks Like We Made It.

But the most haunting for me(not sure if Manilow wrote it, though) is Hubert Laws cover of "Tryin' To Get That Feeling Again." Your son who plays the flute ought to check it out.

bing said...

most of his songs are really feel good songs. i am also a fanilow (although it sounds weird ha ha)

Joy said...

DH sang "Mandy" for his highschool choir audition. His whole family are Fanilows!

niceheart said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. It's good to know that there are quite a few Filipino fanilows out there, too.

Karen, fanilow ba si tatay mo?. Napaghahalata tuloy ang edad ko. But then again, Angela enjoys his songs, too.

Eric, I've noted your recommendations. Might check them out. Thanks.

Hsin said...

Niceheart, you are indeed a Fanilow. *grin*

TK said...

about a decade ago, I saw on TV a segment of a David Copperfield show. He used "weekend in new england" as a background music and Valerie bertinelli as the love interest. The Magic, The Music and Young Valerie made the moment so enchanting to watch.