Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Five Lessons

We all get them. Those annoying chain emails: pass this on or you aren't a nice person (my words). I hate them. But tonight one caught my eye and as I read down the page I thought it was worth posting here. I think if we look within each lesson we can see a little of Barry in each of them.

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: 'What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?'

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

'Absolutely,' said the professor. 'In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello.'

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain
One night, at 11:3 0 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s.. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached..

It read: 'Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away.. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.'

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

'How much is an ice cream sundae?' he asked.
'Fifty cents,' replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and
studied the coins in it.
'Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?' he inquired.
By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.
'Thirty-five cents,' she brusquely replied.
The little boy again counted his coins.
"I'll have the plain ice cream,' he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, 'Yes I'll do it if it will save her.' As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, 'Will I start to die right away'.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her but he had chosen to save her anyway.

Just some food for thought,
Texas Fanilow

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's ALL about the music

Yes. It's all about the music...but it doesn't hurt that he's pleasing on the eyes. Here are some pictures from the Dallas Show. A bit of a departure from my doesn't hurt to gaze into those baby blues every now and then.

Texas Fanilow

Monday, February 25, 2008

Perfect love sends fear flying

I don't know how to begin
To let myself let you in
But you, maybe you
Could show me.

Fear of rejection. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of disappointing someone. Fear of the unknown. All of these keep us from experiencing love. We may want it. We may see it. We may actually feel it. But the fear grips us so that we can't act on it. We hide behind what we know to be safe and comfortable. And even though everything in our being tells us to play it safe, the love that is out there waiting for us is the only thing that can take away that fear.

The problem is that we don't understand this until we find it. We can't grasp the theory of unconditional (perfect) love. The only love we have ever known has hurt us and not been consistent. It has had conditions and required us to act or be a certain way. And so we think and feel that all love is like that. But God's love isn't. And when someone loves you with that kind of love you had better latch on to it. Because it's rare in this world and it's not often you find a love like that. That love never leaves. That love never fails. That love never gives up. That love keeps standing there even if you walk away or reject it. And if you just reach out for it, you will find it waiting patiently and ready for you to say...

Now I find I need, I need to follow you
So won't you help me come through?
My future's long overdue
It's time; I think I'm ready now
And you could show me how.

Perfect love sends fear flying (John 4:18),
Texas Fanilow

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Build A Bridge

I would just like to a bridge and get over it.

It amazes me how long people hold on. For some, grudges can last a lifetime. Letting go can be one of the most difficult and yet greatest accomplishments of your life. Yet few people are able to leave the past behind and move on to the future.

We all have those grudges that we refuse to release. They eat away at our peace and rob us of the joy in life. It’s acceptable to feel the pain or anger related to a broken trust or misplaced friendship. However, at some point, it’s time to “build a bridge and get over it.” Holding that grudge only adds fuel to the fire and reminds you of the pain every time you see or think of the person.

We all know someone that refuses to let go. Are you one of those people? Whatever it is that you are holding on to, ask yourself if it has improved your life. Are you happy or miserable? Are you holding on to a grudge that fuels your anger? Are you living in the past and missing out on the present? If you are, it’s time to let go. It’s time to build that bridge and cross over to the other side. begin again,
sometimes you lose,
sometimes you win,
but you begin again...
in time the sun will shine
and you begin again.

Let's just agree to disagree and be done with this once and for all.

Texas Fanilow

P.S. If you have no idea what I'm talking about here, count your blessings!

Friday, February 22, 2008

It was "Magic" in Dallas

This night in Dallas will go down as one of my most favorite Manilow memories. My daughter and I had never attended a concert together and we made an evening of it. A little too much wine at dinner, and we were ready to ROCK the house at the American Airlines arena!

Since this was her first concert and the first time she has ever sat that close to the stage, she was pumped. She chatted with the ticket takers, those selling the programs; she commented on the "tacky" shirts they were selling (she was not a fan of the picture on the tour shirt--I have to agree with her on that one), and she laughed and joked with a middle aged gentleman selling beer. He asked her if she was a fan and she said, yes, but that I was the "real" fan and she fully expected me to act "crazy" during the concert. He pulled her aside and told her that she should enjoy it with me and that it was 90 minutes in my life of pure joy (he got that right) and she should be happy she got to see me experience it.

When we found our seats (4th row center) she started mingling with the fans all around us. She wanted to know how many shows they had seen, had they been to Vegas, how long they had been fans. Then she started asking them about the Barrynet and if they were familiar with the "leather gang". She told them all it was better than a soap opera (again, she was right). I was cracking up. It was one of those priceless monumental memories that I will never forget.

I have to say again...Brian Culbertson is amazing. That young man is so incredibly talented. He can crawl into a jazz song like no other. The musicians that accompany him are just as talented and the Earth Wind and Fire medley that they do had the house on their feet rocking. I found myself wishing that we could hear more, but I was would delay the entrance of the one I had come to see: the shadowman himself...Mr. Barry Manilow!

The music began and then the infamous "right here, right now" started. It was amazing watching the show through my daughter's expressions and excitement. When he walked out on stage I, of course, became ecstatic. She started laughing and smiling and gave me a huge hug. He began with his usual
It's a Miracle medley. I never get tired of hearing him sing those songs. And it was great for my daughter because she knew every one of them and was enjoying it immensely.

The show is different from the last time I saw it. The decades are gone and the only cover songs that remain are the 60's. I have to admit I missed the 70's songs, but the addition of more of his own hits made it worth the loss. Hearing The Old Songs in its entirety was special and as always the full version of Could It Be Magic with the orchestra and the light show that goes along with it makes it even more magical.

There were so many great moments in the show, but for me there were several that stood out and made this show unforgettable. The first was the addition of Ready To Take a Chance Again. I know that the consensus is that the song does not work as a dance song. I completely agree. But for a reason unknown to us all he has put that song into the show. While I was watching him sing it I noticed the depth of emotion that came out in the lyrics. He is singing that song to someone or for someone and you can see it in his facial expressions. The lyrics "been livin' with nothin' to show for it; you get what you get when you go for it" speak volumes.

The next moment was his powerful rendition of Weekend in New England. I have never seen him sing that song with so much emotion. His arms were actually up in the air in between notes and he lifted off the piano seat. At the end of the song he was so overcome with emotion that he sat there for a few seconds with his head in his hands, then he stood up, yanked off his tie and threw it across the piano. He crawled so deep into that song that his heart came out on to his sleeve. This was definitely the highlight of the evening.

He then began to play All the Time and this song always gets to me. Lately when he sings this song, it seems like he's actually acknowledging how much he felt that way and how he knows there are so many of us out there that feel the same. Once again, it felt like he was singing this song "to" someone. It was such an emotional moment.

When he began Brooklyn Blues I was hoping that Brian Culbertson would join him on stage. I had the privilege of seeing Dave Koz play that song with him in NYC and there was nothing that compared to it until that night. Brian on his trombone and his saxophone player blew me away when they joined Barry on stage for that song. The amount of talent up on that stage experiencing the jazz of it all made me realize that music truly is one of the few things in our lives that can move us to tears and give us such joy.

There were some funny moments as well, with a new joke about the "size" of his lava lamp and about the dance being foreplay. He completely cracks me up at times. The 60's segment has a larger lava lamp and a new 60's swivel chair. There is a new white jacket with the most beautiful design that looked like paisley, almost three dimensional. And the added confetti to the streamers was the icing on the cake.

And of course it ended too soon with the encore of Old Friends (who's like us..damn few) and Forever and a Day (didn't we show them, weren't they blown away) and I never get tired of seeing him sing those two songs live and experiencing the true gratitude and emotion he has about his fans. The expressions on his face during both those songs say it all and when you are lucky enough to be a part of it, it just doesn't get any better than that.

So it was a night to remember. A mother/daughter moment. A Manilow moment. Some great memories captured on film. And then the Shadowman was gone. As Barry says, "what a life!"

Basking in the memories of Dallas,
Texas Fanilow

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Kidd Craddock and Barry

I just got back from Dallas and spent a week there listening to some DJ's on a rock station during morning drive time. My daughter is a HUGE fan of this morning talk show and she told me that the lead DJ (Kid Craddock) was a Barry Manilow fan and that he had been talking about him for a week. So I listened.

Like Barry, you can't take any of the jibes too seriously. It was all in good fun and the guy really is a huge fan. I found it funny though because all of his co-workers just didn't get it and he tried desperately to convert them. It just wasn't happening...

Here's the link to the Podcasts. If you're interested in listening, keep your sense of humor and have some fun. Once you click the link, click on the KPOD box and open the link. Scroll down to the topics that include Barry and listen.

Happy Listening,
Texas Fanilow

KISSFM 106.1 (Barry Manilow Podcasts)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

It's that time of year again when Hallmark perpetuates its holiday and we all buy into it. I've always hated this holiday. Even when I was young and "in love". But today, for some unexplained reason, I find myself sad. After 38 years of marriage, and much drama, the sparks just aren't there. You find this comfortable place and not that it's bad, but I find myself wishing for that passion.

So...I'm trying to find some love today. Just to make some sense of this silly holiday and take away the sadness. I heard a recent radio interview with Barry in LA when they were talking about his Valentine's Day concert. He said, "it's not just for couples, it's also about friends." For some reason, that brings me comfort. That's where the love seems to flow freely and openly and where I can find some compassion and hope.

So on this Hallmark holiday, I'd like to say, HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY to all of my friends. Thanks for the LOVE and thanks for "giving without taking". I hope that in 2008 we can grow even closer and share some great Manilow memories together.

Finally feeling the LOVE,
Texas Fanilow

Monday, February 11, 2008

Copacabana..and then some

This might be a little off topic, but bear with me. One thing led to another and thus the reason for this post.

I pulled out my Sex and the City DVD's and decided to spend the weekend catching up on some old friends (sidenote: I wish they were "edited"..cleaned up..I love the lines and the relationships, HATE the sex scenes). Anyway...there was a scene in one of the episodes when Carrie's boyfriend was cooking dinner. She came home to "some golden oldies" as she so eloquently put it. Guess who was singing? You got it. Barry. Copacabana. Now that's a Barry moment!

And why shouldn't he be in this series. It's about friendship in New York. What better backdrop for his music. And I couldn't help but wonder (Carrie's favorite byline), where would I be without my friends? Lost. They lift me up when I'm down. They laugh with me when I'm in the mood to have some fun. They cry with me when I'm hurt. Most of them live miles away. Some live half way across the world and we have never even met. But I know they are always there...and...

"...It's comforting to know that the ones you love are always in your heart... and if you're very lucky, a plane ride away..."

Texas Fanilow

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ready to Take a Chance Again

The word is out that Barry has changed the dance song in An Evening of Music and Passion to his hit title song "Ready to Take a Chance Again" from the movie Foul Play. When I first heard it, was I shocked? Not really. It seemed the perfect song to me at the perfect time. Is it a dance song? I guess I'll have to see that one for myself next week in Dallas. Why did he change it? I have my theories. Will it stay in the Vegas show? Only Barry knows the answer to that one.

I sure do like that song, however. I like its message. I like that it puts hope out there bigger than life. I like that it addresses the fact that a life devoid of love and risks is not really living. It's another Manilow message that reminds us that without risks, we can't gain. Life, without taking chances, is "living in a shell" and not really living "very well". I like that message. It speaks to me.

You get what you get when you go for it...
Texas Fanilow

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Few Words

Let freedom ring...

And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free...

Every American is endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...

The 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech...

All throughout history men have tried to silence prophets and those who speak the truth and try and pervert their message...

Always the voice of truth willing to take a stand for what is right,
Texas Fanilow

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Outtakes

On the 29th, I rushed out hunting for the DVD of the PBS Special. As luck would have it, I found a copy at Sam's Club. Since I had seen the special when it was aired, I mostly wanted the DVD for the outtakes. For me, outtakes are like the foam in my favorite cappuccino. They are what I look forward to in every one of Barry's DVD releases. And these certainly lived up to my expectations!

Although there were not many of them, the ones they included are worth the price of the DVD. The medley of 70's songs was great, especially You've Got a Friend with all his backup singers. His rendition of that song puts a smile on my face. The interactions while they are all singing are priceless.

Then, there is the jewel of the outtakes: All the Time. Wow. I can't begin to say enough about this song. I have never seen him looking so vulnerable and pensive. The expressions on his face and the way he sang the words to that song made me feel like he was singing it "to" someone. The last line of the song "to think we had it all...all the time" just made me melt. He poured his soul into this one and you can see it all over his face. I won't soon forget the emotion that I felt while watching him sing it.

So if you haven't gotten your hands on this DVD, hopefully now you will want to own it. It's shear Manilow Magic. And if this one doesn't get nominated for another Emmy, those people have lost their emmy-loving minds!

Happy watching,
Texas Fanilow

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