Barry Manilow's Television Specials
May 6, 2012 10:31 PM   Subscribe

Blowdry hairstyles! Sequins! Self-effacing humor without irony! Amazing melodies and lyrics! It's The Barry Manilow Special [52m] shown on ABC in 1977, winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Special. Featuring Penny Marshall! Guaranteed Copacabana-free! But this wouldn't be the only time Barry Manilow appeared in a television special...

The Second Barry Manilow Special (1978) [48m30s] -- featuring Ray Charles
The Third Barry Manilow Special (1979) [48m50s] -- featuring John Denver
One Voice (1980) [50m] -- featuring Dionne Warwick
The Making Of 2 A.M. Paradise Cafe (1984) [55m] -- featuring Mundell Lowe, Gerry Mulligan, Billy Mays, George Duviver, Shelly Manne, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Tormé (documenting Barry's 1984 recorded-in-a-single-take smoky lounge jazz album)
Copacabana (1985) (2h, includes commercials) -- Barry's only lead acting role in a film based on his hit song
Big Fun On Swing Street (1988) [45m35s] -- featuring Diane Shuur and Tom Scott and others, in a modern/retro mashup of 80s pop and classic jazz styles
VH1 70s Week Special (1996) [45m] -- just Barry and his piano performing his hits
Bravo's Musicians (2001) [44m] in two parts 1 2 -- Barry, a piano, and David Wild interviewing him about his career
An Audience With Barry Manilow (2011) [45m] in four parts 1 2 3 4
posted by hippybear (42 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, wow. Thanks from current me and 6 year old me, whose favorite song was Copacabana.
posted by apricot at 11:29 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I sang in the backing chorus at a few of his One Voice concerts in the early 1980's. What a goofy, cheerful, gangly dude, but a natural songwriter. This will fill up a late autumn afternoon for me. Thanks.
posted by michswiss at 11:30 PM on May 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have this vague memory of actually seeing him live BEFORE he was huge (because it was only a thousand seater). It would've been 1976 or 77, except I think he was huge by then. All I really remember is that he did a medley of his famous TV commercials, and I hated it. What the hell was I even doing there? Girlfriend probably. Or maybe it was a dream.

Also, Brandy by Scott English, three years before Mandy.
posted by philip-random at 11:39 PM on May 6, 2012


Typically excellent performance from Ray Charles.

Barry Manilow, though? Watch performances by Barry Manilow? I dunno, man... I dunno. You're asking a lot.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:03 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't know. not_on_display brought up Barry Manilow a day and half ago.

I have to resist this new trend where Metafilter starts talking about Barry Manilow a lot.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:22 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh. That Copacabana movie was written by James Lipton.
posted by item at 12:32 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


twoleftfeet: "Yeah, I don't know. not_on_display brought up Barry Manilow a day and half ago.

I have to resist this new trend where Metafilter starts talking about Barry Manilow a lot.
"

Can't be as bad as the 'Huey Lewis and The News' adulation/love-in a few years back. Or maybe it can be.

Oh MetaFilter, you're a tough nut to crack.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:34 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have to resist this new trend where Metafilter starts talking about Barry Manilow a lot."

Can't be as bad as the 'Huey Lewis and The News' adulation/love-in a few years back. Or maybe it can be.


Hell is big. There's room enough for both.
posted by philip-random at 12:36 AM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have this vague memory of stumbling over an xrated story somewhere that was all about Barry Manilow... Yurgh.
posted by infini at 12:37 AM on May 7, 2012


And let's try to forget that this place couldn't shut up about how everyone just for realsies looooooves Phil Collins a couple of years ago.
posted by item at 12:39 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Manilow love is campy and love-of-a-trainwreck. Love of Phil Collins and Huey Lewis is just shit.
posted by readyfreddy at 12:42 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is... well, pretty a terrifying flashback into the '70s.
If I start down this road it'll be a short hop into John Denver on The Muppets.
And flares. By god... the flares.

I think the big question here is: when are Lady Gaga, Manilow and Pomplamoose going to collaborate?
posted by Mezentian at 12:42 AM on May 7, 2012


Am I going to be relegated to the backbench for my earlier comment? Oh well. Still, it was an interesting experience at the time.
posted by michswiss at 12:58 AM on May 7, 2012


I like how He gives without taking, but sorry I can't give this much time to Him.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:17 AM on May 7, 2012


So send him away!
posted by Wolof at 1:24 AM on May 7, 2012


Music and passion is *always* the fashion.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:08 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


How scary! Whenever Barry Manilow songs come on at my water exercise class, I have to resist the urge to gag. The other old ladies LUV him, but I am still of the "disco sucks" school of thought, and Copacabana ranks as one of the worst songs ever. Manilow just seems a greasy lounge singer (lounge lizard) that somehow rose to fame. Ewww.
posted by mermayd at 3:21 AM on May 7, 2012


I see your Barry Manilow and raise you a Muskrat Love.





I hate the Seventies....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:39 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Manilow just seems a greasy lounge singer (lounge lizard) that somehow rose to fame.

I'm no fan. At all.
But he was the singer that lounge lizards emulated.
I can't even attach sleazy too him (though I suspect there must be stories there).
posted by Mezentian at 4:42 AM on May 7, 2012


I was so in love with Barry Manilow in the 70s.
posted by JanetLand at 5:13 AM on May 7, 2012


I hate the Seventies....

The Band. P Funk. Allman Brothers. Captain Beefheart. Tom Waits. Al Green. Curtis Mayfield. Elvis Costello. Bob Marley and the Wailers. Little Feat. Stevie Wonder. Marvin Gaye. The Temptations. Joni Mitchell. Bill Withers. Dr. John. Gladys Knight and the Pips. Joe Cocker.

And you hate the 70s?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:32 AM on May 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


And you hate the 70s?

With a list like that: I would.

Except Elvis Costello. He was cool.
posted by Mezentian at 5:39 AM on May 7, 2012


Except Elvis Costello. He was cool.

...You did see Captain Beefheart on that list, right?

And I love me some Elvis - I have all of his albums through Trust memorized, plus a few more - but you could add all of his songs together and still not come up with "Refuge of the Roads."
posted by mykescipark at 6:10 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The strangely compelling Dictionaraoke version of Copacabana, if you prefer early 2000s nostalgia.

(mp3 direct link)
posted by gimonca at 6:14 AM on May 7, 2012


Barry Manilow produced Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook, an absolutely wonderful album. They do Slow Boat to China as a duet and it's very playful and fun.
posted by not that girl at 6:27 AM on May 7, 2012


When I listen to these songs, I imagine I can still hear the 8-track clicking in the middle of some of them. Now, about my lawn - get off it.
posted by peagood at 6:52 AM on May 7, 2012




This page supposedly gives a list of his most important commercial jingle music. No idea how accurate it is. I was amazed that the current version of his wikipedia page contains no such list. It seems to me it would be one of the quintessential wikipedia niche functions.

The only ones that were familiar to me were "like a good neighbor state farm insurance" and "you deserve a break today mcdonald's".
posted by bukvich at 7:17 AM on May 7, 2012


So, within the span of ten days, hippybear goes from a comprehensive Jimmy Somerville post to Barry Manilow. Sir, I salute you and your eclectic musical brain.

Also, I remember watching this on television.
posted by catlet at 7:19 AM on May 7, 2012


I don't think I had heard a single Barry Manilow song until I was a teenager, but for some reason as a kid I loved the Ray Stevens Barry Manilow parody song I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow.

In retrospect, I'm not sure why a man singing about a singer I'd never heard of and complaining about middle aged problems I didn't understand* would appeal to me, but it did.

*Like promiscuous teenage daughters and ailing ficus plants.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:24 AM on May 7, 2012


Except Elvis Costello. He was cool.

He could write songs, I'll give him that, and the first three albums belong somewhere in the history books. But to rate the small Elvis higher than ...

The Band. P Funk. Allman Brothers. Captain Beefheart. Tom Waits. Al Green. Curtis Mayfield. Bob Marley and the Wailers. Little Feat. Stevie Wonder. Marvin Gaye. The Temptations. Joni Mitchell. Bill Withers. Dr. John. Gladys Knight and the Pips. Joe Cocker.

... that's just ...? That's like something they'd use a Barry Manilow jingle to sell.

Except maybe not Joe Cocker - he never really survived You Are So Beautiful.
posted by philip-random at 8:31 AM on May 7, 2012


Except maybe not Joe Cocker - he never really survived You Are So Beautiful.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen cancels out any sins. And anyway, anything any of these people did after the 70s is understood to be outside the current discussion.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:35 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never liked his music, but whenever I saw him on Carson he seemed a genuinely decent guy with a good sense of humor about himself.
posted by whuppy at 9:52 AM on May 7, 2012


Talking Heads, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Pretenders... yeah it was the 70s, but it wasn't all bad.
posted by e1c at 9:53 AM on May 7, 2012


Wet And Lonely
The Barry Manilow t-shirt experiment

Actually heard an interview with Manilow a while back and he came over as an okay guy to be honest.

I don't know this is apocryphal but I remember an anecdote of some guy visiting a real cool cutting edge division of a record label that had signed up a load of underground talent and asking why there was a picture of Manilow on the wall to be told it was a reminder of who actually made all the company's profit.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:16 AM on May 7, 2012


The first album I ever bought was Barry Manilow Live. 1) Hey, I was 12. 2) It's a great album.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:02 PM on May 7, 2012


Talking Heads, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Pretenders... yeah it was the 70s, but it wasn't all bad.

Throw the Ramones in on top of that, and mermayd can bring a Very Special Splashin' to the Oldies playlist to the next water-cise class.
posted by hangashore at 1:33 PM on May 7, 2012


The real news in this thread got buried in a comment halfway down: Dictionaraoke is still up and running (and last updated December 2nd, 2005).
posted by item at 1:53 PM on May 7, 2012


No. Just...no.
posted by Ber at 4:07 PM on May 7, 2012


I haven't clicked on any of the links yet because if I do I'll start singing along and even with my office door closed people will hear me. When you sing with Barry you gotta emote.

Nostalgia prevents me from objectively rating this music is good or bad but when I was six Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits was my favorite album and it still brings back the happiest bits of childhood when I hear songs from it. HB, I'll be all over these links, singing along, and annoying the hell out of my wife and cat the minute I get home. Thanks much!
posted by Blue Meanie at 4:24 PM on May 7, 2012


I'll admit it, I love the Manilow, always have, always will. His music doesn't fit in with any other music I like, but I can't help it.

The first album I bought, at a yard sale of all places, was Barry Manilow. I think I paid like 50 cents for it. My Mom looked at me funny, but let me buy it anyway. I still have it, and all my others, put away as my love for the Manilow knows no bounds.

I have never seen him live, which makes me sad, but I will still sing any single of of his songs, at the top of my lungs, whenever I hear it. Thanks for the post, hippybear.
posted by SuzySmith at 5:05 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd say, if you're Barry-avoidant, or Barry-hating (as many seem to be), but still want to have a taste of how interesting these specials are, you should watch (in descending order), the 2 A.M. Paradise Cafe piece, the Swing Street special (amazing performance by Diane Schuur there), and finally the first Television Special. They have different things to offer, none of them feature Copacabana (which seems to be widely loathed by the haters), and they all give a sense of Barry as an artist and a person which is a lot broader than those who aren't familiar with his catalog might have.
posted by hippybear at 6:23 PM on May 8, 2012


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