Almost everyone knows at least one line to a Barry Manilow song. The list of hits he has had over his 40 year career is lengthy. There’s “Mandy,” “Copacabana” and “Can’t Smile Without You.” Manilow has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, yet even today, he seems surprised by his success as a pop star. He says he’s always seen himself as the musician behind the scenes — a songwriter and an arranger. Today, at age 70, Manilow is doing all of that: performing concerts, composing a musical of his own and he even recently appeared on Broadway. Music legend Barry Manilow joins Diane in studio to talk about his life and career.


  • Barry Manilow Singer and songwriter.

“Mandy” (1974)

“I Write The Songs” (1975)

“Copacabana (At The Copa)” (1978)


  • 11:06:56

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. "Rolling Stone" has called Barry Manilow "showman of our generation." He's won a Grammy, an Emmy and a Tony and "Billboard" magazine ranks him as the top adult contemporary chart artist of all time.

  • 11:07:16

    MS. DIANE REHMBut despite the success as a performer on stage, Manilow says he sees himself as a musician first. Joining me in the studio, singer and songwriter, Barry Manilow. And throughout the hour we'll be hearing his music. You can call in with your questions at 800-433-8850. Send us your email to, follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. It's wonderful to have you here in the studio.

  • 11:07:55

    MR. BARRY MANILOWOh, great, nice to be here, Diane.

  • 11:07:57

    REHMIt's good to see you. You are 70 years old.

  • 11:08:03

    MANILOWOh, thank you very much for starting this interview like that.

  • 11:08:07

    REHMYou know why? Because, number one, you look great.

  • 11:08:12

    MANILOWOh, thank you.

  • 11:08:12

    REHMNumber two, you're still performing, doing it live, getting out there, putting everything you've got into it.

  • 11:08:22

    MANILOWYou know, this 70 thing, it just doesn't make any sense.

  • 11:08:25


  • 11:08:25

    MANILOWWhen my grandfather was 70, the best he could do was to bring up phlegm. He was an old man, you know...

  • 11:08:32

    REHMBut that's the point.

  • 11:08:33 know, and I just...

  • 11:08:35

    REHMIt's different.

  • 11:08:36

    MANILOWIt is, I just don't...

  • 11:08:37

    REHMIt's different.

  • 11:08:37

    MANILOW...feel any different. I'm still full of energy, I still am creative. Nothing seems to have changed. I'm waiting for like, you know, one morning I'm going to wake up, you know, drooling and limping...

  • 11:08:51

    REHMNo, you're not, no you're not. No, you're not.

  • 11:08:54

    MANILOWSo anyway, it just doesn't make any sense but I'm glad I'm around.

  • 11:08:57

    REHMI'm glad you're around and it is extraordinary that your songs, not only were popular but have remained popular. That you're going to be performing live tomorrow on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It's fabulous.

  • 11:09:21

    MANILOWIt's fabulous. First, I did it four years ago and I didn't think they'd, you know, I thought well, you know, you get one shot at doing something like that and it was thrilling. It was just a thrilling experience for me and then, you know, I wrote this song called "Let Freedom Ring."

  • 11:09:36

    MANILOWWhich they let me end the show with, and right on the last key change, you know, I love my key changes, and on the last one, they hit those fireworks and I couldn't see them because the fireworks were behind me but I could feel the ground rumble and I knew they did it right on the right moment. When I watched the playback it was, oh, God, it was just a thrilling moment and so they're allowing me to do that again. Yeah, that's great.

  • 11:10:03

    REHMThat's terrific. I mean, clearly, I think there are lots of people who would say, how can someone have the strength, have the wherewithal, have the courage to continue performing and do it so well, and that's why 70 is an important. You're a role model, you're an example.

  • 11:10:33

    MANILOWMaybe, maybe, Diane. Honestly because this is 70 in 2013, this is what we look like, most of us. You know, when my grandfather, like I said, when he was 70, they smoked and they didn't take care of themselves and they didn't go to the gym and they, you know, and they got old.

  • 11:10:52

    MANILOWBut especially with my career, I'm so fortunate that I'm still -- I have an audience out there, I can still work and I can, you know, my blood is still going and I, you know, relatively healthy and I really do think that it does make a difference.

  • 11:11:08

    REHMBarry, I am older than you.

  • 11:11:12

    MANILOWWell, you look pretty great.

  • 11:11:13

    REHMAnd I feel exactly the same way you do.

  • 11:11:15

    MANILOWSame thing, right?

  • 11:11:18

    REHMAbsolutely. You grew up in a sort of poor situation.

  • 11:11:24

    MANILOWYes, the slums of Brooklyn.

  • 11:11:27

    REHMThe slums of Brooklyn. What was that like for you? Was it a musical?

  • 11:11:33

    MANILOWNo, no, no, nobody in my -- nobody anywhere in my family or the neighborhood, nobody ever went into music. Everything where I grew up was all about staying alive, putting food on the table, paying the rent. It was all about just getting through the month.

  • 11:11:53

    MANILOWI come from, you know, Russian immigrants and my mother was very young, she was 19 when she had me and she was a kid. And so my grandparents really raised the two of us when I came along. And it was really all about just surviving. So nobody went into the crazy world of music or show business.

  • 11:12:11

    REHMSo how'd you get there?

  • 11:12:13

    MANILOWWell, everybody knew that I was a musical kid. They didn't know what to do with me but they knew that I was...

  • 11:12:19

    REHMWell, how did they know you were...

  • 11:12:21

    MANILOWYou know, you just kind of know when a kid, you know, sings in tune and sings along with the radio. They just knew that I was...

  • 11:12:30

    REHMYes, I did that too but I ended up here and you ended up there.

  • 11:12:35

    MANILOWWell, you know, you might've gone into music but, you know, they knew that I had something there, so the best they could was to stick an accordion in my hands. Every Jewish and Italian kid had to play the accordion in Brooklyn. They won't let you out.

  • 11:12:47

    REHMI love it.

  • 11:12:48

    MANILOWSo they stuck an accordion in my hand and I was good at it and the best part of playing the accordion was I learned to read music and that is so important to a musician. That was the best part of it. And then when my mother remarried, she remarried a guy who brought with him a stack of albums. Because all I knew up until the age of 13 was, you know, Hebrew folk songs. You know, that was it, I didn't listen to the radio.

  • 11:13:14

    REHMI bet you still sing them?

  • 11:13:17


  • 11:13:19

    REHMThe Hebrew folk songs?

  • 11:13:20

    MANILOWYes, it was "Hava Nagila" and it was all that stuff. When Willie came in, he brought with him a stack of records that was -- may as well have been a stack of gold, because it was filled with jazz singers and Broadway scores and classical music and great arrangers like Nelson Riddle and Don Costa. I memorized every note of these albums and then he threw the accordion out and got me a little spinet piano and I was on my way. I was -- I knew that was where I needed to be.

  • 11:13:55

    REHMDid you finish high school?

  • 11:13:58

    MANILOWYeah I did and then I kind of -- I got a million jobs and I went to the evening classes at Julliard and, you know, I struggled but I did it myself. I got a job at the CBS mailroom and I could've stayed at CBS and been an executive but the music was coming out of my ears.

  • 11:14:20

    MANILOWI had discovered a recording studio at CBS and there was a piano in it. It was a grand piano. I'd never played a grand piano and it was like Heaven to me. I knew that I couldn't stay at a day job, I had to take a chance and leave CBS and take the first job that was offered to me and I went on the road and I never looked back.

  • 11:14:41

    REHMWhat was that first job?

  • 11:14:44

    MANILOWIt was, I was playing the piano for a girl singer and she got a booking in Jacksonville someplace, and we were terrible, we were just awful. But...

  • 11:14:59

    REHMHow do you know?

  • 11:15:02

    MANILOWBelieve me, I know. Well, actually, you know, the music that we had put together was okay but we were playing it in a little nightclub at a Holiday Inn that wanted to hear old country songs and we didn't know anything about that. And we got fired in one night, but I didn't want to go back. In New York they'd thrown goodbye parties for me, oh my God, you're going on your way. We got fired in one night. So I couldn't go back home, I couldn't go back to New York, so I stayed on the road with this girl.

  • 11:15:29

    REHMIsn't that interesting because I think lots of folks might have given up right then and there but you didn't. You just kept going.

  • 11:15:40

    MANILOWYeah, I couldn't, I couldn't go back and, you know, even though it was rotten and the job was rotten and I didn't have any money, the music was great. The fact that I was making a living, a small living, making music, that was -- I just knew that I was -- I could never have predicted that I'd wind up where I wound up because I never sang, you know.

  • 11:16:02

    MANILOWDiane, I never thought of singing ever. I was going to be a composer or an arranger, certainly a musician, but never singing. Everybody, that was for everybody else. I played piano for every singer in New York because I really play a good accompanying piano and I sound like a band when I play it. And so I was really the go-to piano player, but the singing part, I never wanted it, I never thought about it.

  • 11:16:30

    REHMWhy not? Why not?

  • 11:16:32

    MANILOWThat was for other crazy people, that was not for me. I was going to be, you know, behind the scenes and I was going to help singers and that's what I did. I was the arranger and the producer and, you know, and then I wound up playing for, you know Bette Midler, I was her conductor and her arranger and her producer for about three or four years and that's what I was going to do with my life. That was it, I would've been very happy doing that.

  • 11:16:56

    REHMHow about getting married?

  • 11:16:59

    MANILOWI got married out of high school and...

  • 11:17:02

    REHMRight out of high school?

  • 11:17:03

    MANILOWYeah, right out of high school. I was in love, you know, we were love in, got married out of high school. And that lasted for about a year, year and a half and I, you know, I couldn't, I just couldn't come home from work and do -- there was too much great things going on out there by that time.

  • 11:17:23

    REHMYeah. I understand. And then?

  • 11:17:25

    MANILOWWell, I was -- I started to make demos of my own songs, I started to write songs. And I started to make demos and I sang my own songs.

  • 11:17:35

    REHMYou sang, okay.

  • 11:17:37

    MANILOWAnd we would -- I would send these demos of me singing my songs to other people, other singers, real singers, and nobody wanted to sing them because it was right then that the age of the singer/songwriter was happening. James Taylor and Carole King and all and nobody -- they all wanted to sing their own songs.

  • 11:17:56

    MANILOWSo my demos kept coming back to me but I got a phone call from a record label saying that they liked my demo and they liked how I sounded and they asked me if I wanted to make an album. And none of my friends could believe it. When I told Bette I got a record deal, she said, "Doing what?" I said, "Singing." She said, "You don't sing." I said, "I do now." So I made my first album.

  • 11:18:25

    REHMBarry Manilow, singer, songwriter, producer and composer. He'll perform tomorrow on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the 4th of July special, "A Capitol Fourth." And that's going to air on PBS tomorrow from 8:00 to 9:30 pm. Short break, right back.

  • 11:20:05

    REHMAnd if you've just joined us, Barry Manilow is here in the studio. You know him as singer/songwriter. He's producer and composer.

  • 11:20:19

    MANILOWAnd I clean up at the end of...

  • 11:20:20

    REHMAnd you clean up...

  • 11:20:21

    MANILOWI clean up at the end of the show.

  • 11:20:22

    REHMHe's even got a keyboard in here.

  • 11:20:25

    MANILOWI do. I do. I do.

  • 11:20:40

    MANILOWOkay. That's about all you get.

  • 11:20:40

    REHMI love it. But you know, I mean, this is a fun fact. You wrote that song very quickly.

  • 11:20:50

    MANILOWVery quickly, yes. My wonderful lyricist Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman called me with the lyric and they wrote -- I mean, I think anybody could've written a good melody for that lyric. It is so brilliant. They wrote me, "her name was Lola, she was a showgirl." I mean, really, you've got to be a moron not to write a melody to a good...

  • 11:21:12

    REHMYou don't want to play a little more of that?

  • 11:21:14

    MANILOWNo, let's talk. I like talking to you.

  • 11:21:15

    REHMYou like talking. All right. Now, tell me how you ended up at Julliard and...

  • 11:21:22

    MANILOWAt where, at where?

  • 11:21:23

    REHMAt Julliard and you've got to turn that phone off.

  • 11:21:26

    MANILOWI'm going to do that now.

  • 11:21:27

    REHMOkay. Thank you.

  • 11:21:28

    MANILOWYes. How did I wind up at Julliard? Well, it was after piano lessons galore. And then it was -- I went to City College for a while because we all had to go to college. And, you know, I went to City College and I majored in advertising. And it was as boring as anything. I was really -- I was falling asleep in every class. And then I realized I learned that they were auditioning for people to get into Julliard. They were, whatever you call it. They were auditioning.

  • 11:21:59

    MANILOWAnd I had had, you know, a lot of piano lessons and I played some nice classical stuff. I forget what I played for them. And I played for them and I got into Julliard because I played, I think it was -- I don't know -- the Ritual Fire Dance or something. And they -- I got into Julliard. But I couldn't afford to stay in Julliard and go there for, you know, all day long. And I just -- so I went to the evening class at Julliard. My day was I worked at CBS as a mail boy and then I went to Julliard at 4:00 and then I played in bars at night. And then I'd start the day all over again.

  • 11:22:35

    REHMAnd in the meantime you wrote, produced and sang so many famous jingles.

  • 11:22:47

    MANILOWYeah, yeah.

  • 11:22:48

    REHMWe're going to hear a few of those jingles.

  • 11:25:08

    REHMI love those jingles.

  • 11:25:11

    MANILOWWell, you know, I learned a lot doing jingles, I did.

  • 11:25:13

    REHMI'll bet.

  • 11:25:14

    MANILOWYou know, even though I spent four years at Julliard, really my college was those few years writing jingles. Because I got to work with some of the best musicians because, you know, they pay so much that you get the best musicians. And, you know, I did my own arrangements and they would help me. You know, they'd say, Barry, you're writing the oboe line an octave too high, you know. And then I learned how to sing in a group, background singing.

  • 11:25:40

    MANILOWAnd -- but most of all I learned how to write the catchiest melodies that I could in 15 seconds. Because, as you know, you've got -- you know, you go up against the other guys going after the same spot and you've got to write the catchiest melody of all of them. And when I wound up in the pop music world, well, that really helped.

  • 11:26:03

    REHMNow, one of the songs that you actually did not write, written by Beach Boys' Bruce Johnston...

  • 11:26:18


  • 11:26:19

    REHM...was "I Write the Songs."

  • 11:26:23


  • 11:27:33

    REHMTell me about this song.

  • 11:27:35

    MANILOWYou know, all of these records that I've had, that I've been so fortunate in having hits, I never knew whether they would ever be hits. All I could do was to make the record, whether I wrote them or whether somebody else wrote them. I never had an ear for what was going to be popular. It was Claude Davis that knows what's going to be popular and what's going to be a hit or not. And I was very fortunate working with him. He is -- he knows what's going to be a hit or not and he knew that this record was going to be a big record. I didn't know it.

  • 11:28:16

    REHMI can't tell you how much I love this song. It brings back so many memories.

  • 11:28:23

    MANILOWYes, yes.

  • 11:28:25

    REHMFor you, I'm sure, as well.

  • 11:28:27

    MANILOWAnd for me too. Well, all of them, from "Mandy" on. These days when I sing these songs, I mean, you know, they bring back so many memories of friends and...

  • 11:28:38

    REHMBut, you know, the other thing that they do is remind us all of a time when you could understand the lyrics.

  • 11:28:50

    MANILOWOh, Diane, you're so right.

  • 11:28:52

    REHMAnd when the lyrics meant something to your heart.

  • 11:28:57

    MANILOWYou're so right. I don't -- you know, I miss it. You know, I watched the Grammys a couple of months ago and I kept saying, where'd the melody go? Where'd the melody go? Where'd the lyric go? It's gone, you know. So I'm still out there reminding people what a melody and a lyric is.

  • 11:29:16

    REHMYou reached such extraordinary fame in the 1970s. How did you deal with it?

  • 11:29:27

    MANILOWIt was shocking when -- when fame hits it is -- you have to be very strong. I -- you know, I worked on American Idol three times so far and I've worked with these children -- the kids in their teens. And they are not experienced. And I wish them all well because when they become household names overnight like they do, I say a little prayer because I know what they're about to go through. And one day you're -- you know, for me one day I was bouncing a check at the A&P and the next day the paparazzi was outside. And I was already 29 by that time. I can't imagine what happens to younger people.

  • 11:30:09

    MANILOWYou got a little crazy. You go a little crazy. You can see what's happening with some of these younger people. Younger people, how do they handle it? I was lucky enough to have my friends, my -- that's my advice. Keep your young friends...

  • 11:30:24

    REHM...have your friends.

  • 11:30:25

    MANILOW...keep your old friends and your family around you and they'll ground you. They won't let you go crazy. Keep your family and your old friends. They know who you are. Because the new people that you're about to -- that are going to be around you only know this new image of a star. And they won't treat you the same way as your...

  • 11:30:46

    REHMAnd what did they do? How did they impose that feeling of stardom on you?

  • 11:30:54

    MANILOWThey compliment you too much. They give you anything you ask for. They just -- they treat you -- they don't treat you like a person. They treat the image. They don't treat you -- they don't see you, they don't know you. Your friends know you but your new people, they're working for you or they're fans of yours. It's an entirely different way of being treated. And I got it when I was 29. I can't imagine what happens to kids...

  • 11:31:25

    REHMDid you go a little nutsy?

  • 11:31:26

    MANILOWI did. I became a brat.

  • 11:31:28

    REHMA brat.

  • 11:31:29

    MANILOWI did, I became a brat.

  • 11:31:30

    REHMWhat does that mean?

  • 11:31:32

    MANILOWOh, I think I was difficult to work with. And I know why. I was terrified. I was confused. And I was about four years into it and I'd rented a place on Golden Beach in Florida. And I was outside on a rocking chair. And I realized that everybody around me I paid. I said, where did I go? Where did everybody go? Everybody inside that house that I was renting, there was the houseman and there was the -- just a whole bunch of people that I -- that my friends had gone. I was on the road. Nobody knew where I was. My life had just gone -- gone away.

  • 11:32:15

    REHMSo with that realization then what?

  • 11:32:20

    MANILOWI started making phone calls to old friends and to family. And I pulled myself back together again. And then I made phone calls and apologized to everybody who I thought I had been bad to.

  • 11:32:32

    REHMDid you ever get involved with drugs (unintelligible) ?

  • 11:32:35

    MANILOWNo, no. Thank goodness it never...

  • 11:32:37

    REHMYou're a lucky man.

  • 11:32:38

    MANILOWI am a lucky guy and they were all over. It was all over me. They were all around me but I -- it's just -- you know, I come from a family of alcoholics, you know. I'm one of those children of alcoholics. And what I've heard is that when you're a child of an alcoholic you either go towards them or away from them. And I went the other way. I went away from them.

  • 11:32:59

    REHMLucky man. And that is the voice of Barry Manilow. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." One of your first big hits was "Mandy." But it wasn't originally named "Mandy."

  • 11:33:21

    MANILOWNo. Again that was a discovery by Clive Davis. He found a song called "Brandy" and it was a rock and roll song. It went, Oh Brandy, well, you came and you gave without taking. But I sent you away, oh Brandy. It was like that. So I said -- and he said, what you need is a career-making record and you gave me that. And I said, that's a career-making record, really? So I made the demo just like that and I sounded ridiculous. And then that afternoon I played it as a ballad and showed it to him the way we know it. I changed all the chords around, I sang it like a ballad and that was the record.

  • 11:35:50

    MANILOWYou know, people tell me all the time that when that record came on the radio, they knew it was going to be a hit. Just strangers tell me that sometimes -- one person said that they had to pull over to the side of the road because they were so moved by it. I didn't know. I was so young and I was so green when it came to what's a hit record. I really didn't know why this song became so popular.

  • 11:36:18


  • 11:36:20

    MANILOWBut all these years later when I hear it now, I get it.

  • 11:36:23

    REHMYou get it.

  • 11:36:24

    MANILOWI do. I get it now.

  • 11:36:26

    REHMWhat happened to you as a result of this record?

  • 11:36:31

    MANILOWWell, my life exploded into a million pieces. And everything that I knew was gone. And I had a new life. And I resisted it for a long time. I didn't like it. I didn't like it. I didn't like the fame. I didn't like the responsibility. I didn't like it. But I couldn't stop it. It was a snowball that was just rolling down a hill. I couldn't stop it. It was hit record after hit record. Oh please, I was as grateful as I could be but I just wasn't prepared. Because, like I said to you earlier, I never thought about becoming a singer.

  • 11:37:14

    REHMBarry Manilow. He is of course singer, songwriter, producer and composer. He'll be performing tomorrow on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the 4th of July special. It's going to air on PBS from 8:00 to 9:30 Eastern time.

  • 11:40:06

    REHMBarry Manilow, you have not been totally immune from criticism.

  • 11:40:15

    MANILOWThat's a real nice way of putting it. (laugh)

  • 11:40:18

    REHMSee, that makes up for starting with 70. Okay. So tell me what that's been like for you.

  • 11:40:26

    MANILOWYou've got to have broad shoulders to be successful, you do, because, you know, I got, you know, I got beaten up pretty...

  • 11:40:33

    REHMFor what?

  • 11:40:34

    MANILOWFor being successful I think. And, you know, I was also not a rock and roller. You know, I wasn't -- I didn't come at it with anger and guitars and, you know, I was a romantic singer and full of commotions and critics love to put those kind of guys down. And they, you know, I had my share of lousy reviews. But, you know, you live long enough, anything can happen. And it seems to have changed. You know, I was thinking about what I had said before, you know, how I resisted fame and how this whole thing, you know, wasn't fun in the beginning. But I got to tell you that it changed for me.

  • 11:41:17

    MANILOWAnd I'll tell you what changed. About five or six years into this fame that I resisted and the records and all of this, something happened one night on a stage in New York. I looked out at the audience and I saw what they were feeling. I saw them smiling. I saw them feeling better than I could've ever imagined. And I realized what I was really there for.

  • 11:41:45

    MANILOWI wasn't there for me at all. I was there for them. And it was a big epiphany for me. And from that moment on I found the gratitude of what has happened to me. And everything changed. And so all of my whining that I told you about before, that I resisted it, everything changed on that night. And I'm a very, very grateful guy.

  • 11:42:08

    REHMAll right. Let me read you something else that may make you grateful. It's from Karen in St. Louis, Mo. She says, "My mom has Alzheimer’s Disease. She has a hard time communicating. But when I put my iPod headphones on her and play "Can't Smile Without You," she tunes out the world and sings along getting every note and every word right. It's so great to see her confidently singing along with a big smile on her face. Thanks for helping my mom return to herself through your music. I will be a lifelong fan because of it."

  • 11:44:01

    REHMHere's another email from Tom in Ann Arbor, Mich. He says, "I so admire your performances. Tell us how you can perform songs so well that you've sung hundreds of times. What do you do to get out of your head and perform in the moment?"

  • 11:44:29

    MANILOWWell, you know, I'm an acting singer. You know, I just tell the story of the lyric. And every night it's different for me. And when you do it like that, every night it's different. My scene is different every night in my head. I'm singing to different people. One night I'm singing "This One's For You" to my grandfather. One night I'm singing "Can't Smile Without You" to an old friend. And every night it's different. It's fresh. But plus the fact that I've got a brand new audience every night that are so excited. It's relatively simple for me. I'm glad he -- I'm glad he spotted it though.

  • 11:45:06

    REHMThat one you mentioned "This One's For You," it's a tribute to your grandfather.

  • 11:45:16

    MANILOWWell, Marty Panzer wrote the lyric, my buddy, Marty Panzer wrote the lyric. I don't know who he was thinking of when he wrote the lyric. Then, of course, I put the melody to it. But when I sing it every night, I tell a story about grandpa and then I sing "This One's For You." And it's -- for me, it's a real moving moment for me thinking about grandpa, sing "This One's For You." And the lyric just happens to work so beautifully. "This one's for you wherever you are," you know, singing to...

  • 11:45:44

    REHMTell us about your grandpa.

  • 11:45:46

    MANILOWHe was the first person in my family who recognized the fact that I was musical. He was the first guy. And he would take me to Times Square and try to get me to sing into a little recording booth for a quarter. I was really very young. I was four years old. And, you know, and he would bring back these scratchy little records and we have them in the -- we have them in our family and we all laugh at them. But you could hear this little kid, four or five years old.

  • 11:46:12

    REHMGosh, I wish I had that here.

  • 11:46:14

    MANILOWYeah, oh, yeah, one of these days. Next time I see you I'll bring it.

  • 11:46:17


  • 11:46:17

    MANILOWBut you can hear there's music in this little kid, four or five years old, there's music in him.

  • 11:49:09

    REHMThis is one that does not have the key changers so famous for.

  • 11:49:15

    MANILOWYou know, when I started making records, I took with me all the things that I had learned when I was playing piano for other singers. I was playing piano for singers that did cabaret with their witty ideas for songs and arrangements and medleys. And then I was playing piano for singers who played -- who were auditioning for Broadway musicals.

  • 11:49:39

    MANILOWThey would sing at the top of their lungs. They'd sing to the back of the house. And all of their music was filled with things like modulations and endings and stuff. When I wound up in the pop music world, I took all of that with me into my pop records. And my pop records did sound different than the other guys' pop records because of all the things I had learned from all those people that I'd worked with.

  • 11:50:11

    REHMThat's a statement that we don't often hear from people who've achieved as much as you have. You know, sometimes they'll say, I stand on the shoulders of others, but you're really saying that those people have helped make you who you are.

  • 11:50:37

    MANILOWOh, please, you know, they were my inspirations, all of the greats. You know, I was raised in the '50s. And in the '50s, you know, the songs that were popular in the '40s were still there. The greats, the Cole Porters and the Rodgers and Hammersteins and the, you know, Leonard -- they were all coming into the '50s. And that's where -- that's the music that I loved. And then rock and roll came in. And I was somewhere in the middle between the stuff that Irving Berlin wrote and the stuff that the Beatles wrote. And so when I got a chance to make records, I tried to put them both together.

  • 11:51:16

    REHMNow, there are -- there's one that, for me, I have seen the movie "Foul Play" at least 20 times.

  • 11:51:30

    MANILOWTruly is a great movie.

  • 11:51:32

    REHMI love that movie. And you have...

  • 11:51:36

    MANILOWI had the...

  • 11:51:37

    REHM...the song.

  • 11:51:37


  • 11:52:57

    REHMAll right. Now, tell us about that.

  • 11:53:00

    MANILOWWhen they gave me the -- they described where they were going to use this song, and it was Goldie Hawn in "Foul Play," as she drives up...

  • 11:53:09


  • 11:53:09

    MANILOW...Pacific Coast Highway, right?

  • 11:53:10


  • 11:53:10

    MANILOWAnd they said that they were going to have a helicopter shot in her car and then it was going to get bigger -- farther and farther and farther and farther away, and they asked me if I could do something. So when I got to the chorus on, "And I'm," and so they pulled back right on the ritard, and it was great.

  • 11:53:29


  • 11:53:29

    MANILOWIt worked, yeah.

  • 11:53:30

    REHMJust fabulous. Fabulous song, fabulous movie. Any regrets along the way?

  • 11:53:42

    MANILOWOnly wearing that stupid Copacabana shirt. That would be the only regret that I have.

  • 11:53:49

    REHMHow about the first marriage? Any regrets there?

  • 11:53:51

    MANILOWOh, no, she's great.

  • 11:53:53

    REHMAnd now?

  • 11:53:54

    MANILOWShe's great.

  • 11:53:54


  • 11:53:55

    MANILOWAnd now what? Now...

  • 11:53:56

    REHMA second marriage?

  • 11:53:57

    MANILOWNo, no. I'm a single guy.

  • 11:53:58

    REHMYou're a single guy.

  • 11:53:59

    MANILOWI'm a single guy with...

  • 11:54:00

    REHMHow come?

  • 11:54:02

    MANILOWThe music got in the way. The music got in the way.

  • 11:54:05

    REHMJust too much?

  • 11:54:06

    MANILOWToo much.

  • 11:54:08

    REHMCan't handle that close personal...

  • 11:54:12

    MANILOWOh, I've got relationships, but...

  • 11:54:14


  • 11:54:14

    MANILOWI've got relationships, but the music was just too much to have a family. And I thought it would be unfair at the children. And I was never home. I got dogs.

  • 11:54:28

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I'm going to take one call.

  • 11:54:35

    MANILOWTake more than one.

  • 11:54:36

    REHMHere's Clarence in Pensacola, Fla. who's been waiting for 31 minutes to talk...

  • 11:54:45


  • 11:54:45

    REHM...with Barry Manilow.

  • 11:54:47

    MANILOWClarence, 31 minutes.

  • 11:54:49

    CLARENCEDiane, thank you for taking this call.

  • 11:54:52


  • 11:54:53

    CLARENCEI don't even know where to begin. I'm thankful that God let me live long enough to thank Barry for a compliment he passed on to me when I was producing a session in a Santa Monica studio in California.

  • 11:55:09

    MANILOWClarence, where did we meet?

  • 11:55:11


  • 11:55:11

    MANILOWWhere did we meet, Clarence?

  • 11:55:13

    CLARENCEWe didn't. You walked into a studio where I was producing someone.

  • 11:55:18

    MANILOWOkay. Who were you producing?

  • 11:55:20

    CLARENCEI was producing Carol Ross for A&M Records.

  • 11:55:23


  • 11:55:24

    CLARENCEAnd I'm a friend of Stevie Wonder's.

  • 11:55:27


  • 11:55:28

    CLARENCEI did the organ work on "Golden Lady."

  • 11:55:30

    MANILOWOh, God, that's a great one.

  • 11:55:33

    CLARENCESo what I wanted to say in this conversation is that I, like you, miss the days of storytelling and melody. Having worked around Stevie Wonder and with that I met Dionne Warwick, who did one of your great songs...

  • 11:55:53


  • 11:55:54

    CLARENCE..."Deja Vu."

  • 11:55:54


  • 11:55:55

    CLARENCEAnd this is how this feels. I'm just so honored that I could thank you today. I didn't think I would live to see this day.

  • 11:56:01

    MANILOWOh, Clarence, thank you very much for saying all these beautiful things. Thank you. What are you doing these days? Are you still making music, Clarence?

  • 11:56:08

    CLARENCETrying to. I'm in Florida where you used to live. I don't find that there's a lot of substance in the storytelling of...

  • 11:56:17

    MANILOWOh, please, tell me about it. Tell me about it. I miss it. Don't you? And, you know, I mentioned something like that onstage now and again, and I say, where'd the melody go? And people applaud. Everybody knows that music has changed.

  • 11:56:32

    REHMWell, you're still trying to do something about that.

  • 11:56:35

    MANILOWI do. One of the reasons that I'm still on the stage is to just show people what good songwriting is, one of the things that I'm really -- I'm proud to be able to do.

  • 11:56:47

    REHMBarry Manilow, singer, songwriter, producer, composer. He'll perform tomorrow on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Fourth of July special, "A Capitol Fourth." This will air on PBS tomorrow from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. eastern time. I love being with you.

  • 11:57:17

    MANILOWI love being with you too, Diane.

  • 11:57:18

    REHMThank you.

  • 11:57:19

    MANILOWYou're inspiring.

  • 11:57:20

    REHMThank you. You're the inspiration. Thanks for listening. Have a great Fourth, everybody. We'll be off for a couple of days. Back with you on Monday.

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