Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Here at the Mayflower

Here at the Mayflower has been on my playlist all week. I've been listening to the songs again and again; enjoying the genius behind this original album. This album could be easily made into a Broadway musical, with each song introducing a character and the entire album becoming a picture of the stories of our lives. It shows Barry's insight into human nature and people's individual struggles. He covers the gamut of human emotions: love, loneliness, loss, family, hiding behind masks, gossip, losing touch with someone, stress, negativity, joy, death, failure, unfulfilled dreams, and even eternity. The underlying message seems clear-do we really know who people are, the struggles they are going through and the dreams they wish for?

If you haven't listened to this masterpiece in awhile or you've never truly "listened" to it, you're missing out on some of the best insight into our behaviors and the affect they have on the people around us and the paths our lives take.

There is so much more to this collection than just great music and lyrics. It makes you stop and think about your life and the lives of those whose paths you cross. This truly "moves" and cuts deep into our souls.
Here at the Mayflower is the Mona Lisa of Barry's collection. Every time you "look" at it you see something different.

Truly Astounded,
Texas Fan

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Decades

The Decade albums are finally complete. Some fans might shout for joy. And others might breathe a sigh of relief. I for one, am just as little nostalgic and yes, sad. Granted, Here at the Mayflower tops the charts for me; followed by Paradise Cafe. But regardless of how you feel about Barry re-recording other people's hits, these albums showcase his absolute genius as an arranger.

For me, there are some gems in each of them that I will always treasure. These songs are masterpieces in arrangement and have replaced the originals in my mind.

The Greatest Songs of the Fifties
"Unchained Melody"-the most beautifully moving version of this song I have ever heard. And coupled with the visuals at the shows, it stands alone as the highlight of this album.

"Are You Lonesome Tonight"-it's the vocals in this song that are gut wrenching. You can hear the absolute loneliness in the words and after seeing it performed live, it even replaces Elvis' version in my mind.

The Greatest Songs of the Sixties
"Cherish/Windy"-The way he meshes these two songs together is a masterpiece of arranging. The back and forth way that both songs blend together, along with having The Association sing along with him made this song an instant favorite.

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"-How can anything replace the Righteous Brother's version of this song? I didn't believe it until I heard it and now when I hear their version, I miss Barry's masterful arrangement.

The Greatest Songs of the Seventies
The standouts on this album are his acoustic versions of his hits. The jewel being Copacabana. The guitar solo in this song brings a completely new vibe to it. It's the arrangements that bring a whole new listening experience to his 70's hits.

"You've Got a Friend"-Barry and Melissa singing together again makes this song a standout for me. While it might not replace the original, it's right up there with it!

The Greatest Songs of the Eighties
There are so many standouts on this album. Remastering and rearranging the 80's hits might have been the most difficult but it was also the most successful in my opinion. My favorites:

"Islands in the Stream"-beats the original HANDS DOWN. And the live version is even better. He hit a home-run with this one.

"I Just Called to Say I Love You"-only Barry would take a classic Stevie Wonder song and turn it into a bossa nova and make it work!

The sax solos by Dave Koz make "Careless Whisper" and "Arthur's Theme" standouts as well.

Bottom line...these albums may be remakes of other artist's songs, but I've thoroughly enjoyed all of them. They are part of my treasured Manilow collection.

Texas Fan

Friday, January 16, 2009

Does it change how you hear the music?

Can you enjoy the music if you don't respect the artist? Is it possible to appreciate the music if some experience has tainted you against the one who performs it? Can you be objective about the quality of the recordings when you think you know the artist and don't like what you perceive him to be? Is it possible to pay money for a CD or a concert ticket if you don't agree with the singer's politics?

For me it's always been pretty simple: yes. None of those things affect my enjoyment of the music. If they did, I'm sure I could find something wrong with almost every musician I have listened to. Barbra Streisand is a vocal democrat that speaks strongly against all conservatives. Frank Sinatra had strong ties to the Mafia. Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison were drug addicts and alcoholics.

I've found that the music can speak for itself. I can listen with complete objectivity and enjoyment. For some, it's impossible. They base all their musical taste on the "perceived" personality of the person performing. When in reality that performer most likely has an image that he/she portrays in the media and has another image he maintains in private. For me, the two just simply don't affect my music listening pleasure.

Enjoying the music,
Texas Fan

Monday, January 12, 2009

You're There

My friends all use the past tense when they speak of you
And so to make them comfortable I use it too
They'd soon have me committed if they only knew
What I believe with all my heart is true

I know you're there
Although it's nothing I can prove
I know you're there
By just the way the shadows move
And though I said goodbye and finally let you go
I know you're there
Although I don't know how I know

I know you see
The crazy things I sometimes do
They make you laugh
So I still do them just for you
And when I'm entertaining all the friends I love
I know you see
And that you're laughing from above

You needn't panic
I'm not consulting any guru
Calling psychics
Or practicing with voodoo
I'm not manic or depressive
I just miss you

So I'll go on
Enjoying every lovely day
Because I'm sure
You would've wanted it that way
And when there's sorrow it's no more than I can bear
Because you are, and always were, and always will be there.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Since reason does not prevail in other places of the Manilow world, it is here where I can post my thoughts and be received with a measure of rationale and common sense. I don't expect everyone to agree with my opinions but I do know that whomever reads it will at least weigh the opinion and form their own judgments.

One of my favorite movies is The Big Chill. The characters are discussing their lives and the unexpected paths they have taken away from public service and social causes. One of the men says, "Don't knock rationalizations. You can't go a day without a good rationalization." Truer words were never spoken.

Some people can rationalize just about anything: threats, profanity, rude and disgusting comments, and even sexual innuendos. But just because you can rationalize something, it doesn't make it right. You can say that someone "encourages it" or that they "like it" but it doesn't make it right. It's disrespectful on a public forum to treat someone like a piece of meat. It doesn't make someone a "prude" or "holier than thou" to adopt this opinion. And it doesn't mean that someone is a "trouble maker" just because they express their distaste for this behavior.

There is a time and a place for everything. A worldwide public forum is not the place to discuss a respected musician's physical attributes with sexual undertones. Keep it in private chat rooms, personal emails, and telephone conversations. This is where it's always belonged and where you can say, "it's all in fun" because it's between friends. And if you want to keep it between friends then don't make it public.

And that my friends (as they say in the Manilow world) is...JUST MY HUMBLE OPINION!
Texas Fan

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


It's that time of year...time for the annual Palm Springs Film Festival. And as I was reading the history of the festival in the Desert Sun, there was an interesting tidbit in the article about a moment that happened during the 1999 festival:

The moment:
Manilow slipped into a lecture hall in the Palm Springs Convention Center to see “The Harmonists,” a film about a pre-World War II German vocal group that Hitler broke up because three of its members were Jewish. Manilow wrote a full-scale musical based on the group and debuted it at the La Jolla Playhouse in 1997. The original group, the Comedian Harmonists, featured Joseph Cycowski, cantor of Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs from 1974 to 1984. Manilow praised the film.

And then there was "Harmony"! "Harmony" has such special meaning to me. There was one very early morning that I was listening to the music and I had an epiphany. It was one of those rare moments where you know without a doubt what the music is saying to you. I still believe that the entire score is God-inspired (lyrics and music) and one day this musical will be a great inspiration to so many others.

The recent news of so many Broadway closings might delay it's appearance. But there is a time and a season for everything. "Harmony" will arrive when the time is right. And when it does, the world will know the hope that this musical brings.

And tonight I'll be listening to it again and reminiscing about that moment when God's voice seemed so incredibly clear.

First..and always...there will be Harmony,
Texas Fan

Friday, January 2, 2009


I don't have an Ipod. I might be the only one I know that doesn't. Everyone in my family does. I's an oddity I've yet to understand. I'm the tech geek, and yet I don't own one. My music listening is confined to my MDA Phone (which holds about 250 mg of songs) and my desktop computer. Since I share a car, I rarely get to listen to Barry in it. And my CD player is pretty archaic as far as stereo systems go.

Lately I've been amusing myself by making playlists in Windows Media. It's remarkable how so many of Barry's songs lend themselves to categories. Here are two playlists you might find fun to make yourself.

Dancin' in the Aisles
Dancin' Fool
Dancing in the Dark
Come Dance With Me/Come Fly With Me
They Danced
At the Dance
Why Don't We Try a Slow Dance
Stompin' at the Savoy
Moonlight Serenade
Carless Whisper
Jump Shout Boogie Medley

I Won't Be the One to Let Go
Baby, It's Cold Outside
The Last Duet
Look to the Rainbow
Fugue for Tinhorns
A Gift of Love
Sincerely/Teach Me Tonight
You've Got a Friend
This Can't Be Real
Big City Blues
On a Slow Boat to China
I Love Being Here with You
Islands in the Stream

There are certainly other categories: Friends, Relationships, Love (too many on this one), Overcoming. The lists could go on forever. Sometimes it's just fun to group the songs together for a change of pace. When you do that you never know what you will hear or experience!

Give it a try and let me know what categories you come up with,
Texas Fan

(P.S. Let me know if I missed any in these categories...I'm sure I did!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Looking ahead to 2009

2008 was quite a year in the Manilow world. An exciting time to be a fan. A new show. A new decade album. A Birthday Bash. A QVC taping. A trip to the UK. The premier of
Can't Smile Without You. A Holiday Bash. A Grammy nomination. A Christmas single climbing the charts.

2009 promises to be just as exciting, perhaps even more so. With a full calendar of shows scheduled in Las Vegas and already some additional on-the-road shows added, Ultimate Manilow-The Hits will bring us many opportunities to enjoy the music and spend some time with our friends. The Grammys should bring us even more excitement with a nomination and the hopes for a win in the category of Traditional Pop Album.

We are also keeping our fingers crossed for an original album release, the release of a DVD of the shows in the UK, and most importantly, the opening of the long-awaited Harmony.

With all of these scheduled projects and others on our wish list, we can expect 2009 to be a blowout year for Barry Manilow and his fans!

Happy 2009!
Texas Fan
Clicky Web Analytics