Whatever happened to love? If you think there’s not enough of it in this old world, don’t blame Barry Manilow.
Born on this day in 1943, he arrived on an ethereal wave of catchy melodies and superb orchestration before learning his trade as a prodigious child musician. Music turned psychedelic and funky in the late Sixties but Manilow—neither psychedelic nor funky—paid the bills as one of the top jinglemeisters in show business. In addition to singing in many ads, he gave us the immortal soundtracks to product pitches for State Farm and Band Aids. The early Seventies turn to singer-songwriters provided him with an opening and he further honed his chops playing piano in a bathhouse, dazzling those demanding shvitzers while he played the keys and arranged the band for Bette Midler during her saucy Seventies phase. His profile rose until his hit “Mandy” put Manilow on the charts and in our hearts, where he remains.
Barry wrote the songs. But he’s not the only one.
In recent times the UI Press has published lavishly on Manilow’s siblings in musical creation. The Man That Got Away traces the life and music of Harold Arlen, composer of classics like “Over the Rainbow” and “Stormy Weather,” and a man who met and worked with next to everyone. Next month we will send to stores A Cole Porter Companion, a look at many facets of the pop genius who gave us “I Get a Kick Out of You” and made possible a clutch of essential albums by Ella and Sinatra. Henry Mancini, like Manilow a man who worked fascinating corners of our pop culture, gets a first-ever full-book treatment by John Caps in Henry Mancini: Making Film Music.
You can own all these books. Could it be magic, you ask? No, my friends, just publishing, the UIP way.