Sunday, October 23, 2011

You've Got a Friend

Talk to any Manilow fan and they will tell you one of the best things about being a fan of Barry's music is meeting other fans. I was incredibly fascinated at my very first Manilow concert with the fans and how they all seemed to know one another. They truly are like a family. And just like any family, new members are added, old members are lost, and family members often quarrel. But when it's all said and done, this family has one thing in common--they love the music of Manilow.

My family started off rather small with a young lady named Mandy. You can read about our story in a previous blog. Mandy was, and still is, near and dear to my heart. On one of our first trips together, she handed me her iPod and introduced me to Sandra. That song, to this day, gives me goosebumps. She just got me and at the time; I needed someone to "get me." She also introduced me to the Barrynet and thus began my adventure in fandom.

Allayne and I first met on the Barrynet right before Barry had his hip surgery. She was a new fan from Canada, being won over by Barry's recent appearance on Larry King Live. She had one album--Greatest Songs of the Fifties; and as Mandy introduced me to the complete collection, I did the same for Allayne. We worked on a scrapbook together for Barry and gathered over 50 fans together to participate. It was an amazing collaboration of fans--something we were proud to work on together. We then started a Canadian Fan Club-I Am Your Child-Manilow Canada and collected money for charity, being recognized for our contributions. I flew to Canada to spend a week with her and hit some piano bars together. It was an amazing week of fun, food, and friendship.

Debbie joined our fan club and we began chatting online. We talked about the music and our love for Las Vegas. She and her husband Rob went there quite often. We met for the first time at the Hilton swimming pool. We were talking on the phone, unbeknownst to her that I was already in Vegas. It was a great surprise and we talked for awhile before heading back inside. It was there that I met her husband Rob and they invited me to join them for dinner. We ate and talked about his music, Vegas and the upcoming shows. So began our many trips to Barry's shows together. Good fun, good times, and tons of "human theater" at Fortuna. When Barry played Philadelphia, I flew to Baltimore for the concert and she and Rob were the perfect hosts. Rob always makes me laugh because he's "the biggest Barry Manilow fan in America" with the picture and the shirt to prove it!

I met Lori in the M Store at the Hilton one afternoon quite by accident. She was there with one of the members of our fan club and we just hit it off. This trip would begin our Barry friendship that would bring us both to each other's homes, a road trip across the country, early morning prayer sessions and some of the best few hours of coffee in the mornings in the room at the Hilton. It became a tradition every trip and when I smell coffee, I remember those wonderful times when it was just the two of us talking about life, the music and our friendship. We have danced (using that term lightly) at Tempo, listened to the "screamers" at Shimmer and had early morning breakfasts in the Paradise Cafe. We have dreamed together, laughed together, cried together, texted countless times, and had our ups and downs. But no Manilow memory would be complete without her. She is, and always will be, tied to my memories of the best times of my life.

Kim and I met on
the Barrynet. She lives in Australia and we began chatting online. This was before Skype, or texting, and before live chatting. We both loved our kids and of course, Barry's music. We talked about our goals, our dreams, and hoped one day to meet in Las Vegas. After countless months of planning, Kim made it happen and there was nothing that was going to keep me from being there. We spent a fabulous week of shopping, sightseeing, shows, nights in Tempo and late night dinners. I wouldn't trade that time for anything and feel blessed that Kim flew all that way across the globe to meet me (and Barry, of course!).

Joanne is my "fabulous" UK friend. I was there the night she had her dance with Barry and snapped a photo. She was also a member of our fan club and met up with me to give me a donation for our charity. She is such a classy lady with the most inspiring spirit and I spent a week the next year in Vegas with her when I was planning my daughter's wedding. We had breakfasts together and spent hours talking about the music and the fans. She was there to help me de-stress that week and for that, she will always be at the top of my list. One day I would love to fly to the UK for some shows with her and who knows, it might just happen!

YBA began blogging about Barry and she and I were kindred spirits. We both loved blogging and she was using Barry's music to get through a difficult time in her life. She was cautious about fan clubs, having a previously negative experience with another musician's fans; but she slowly but surely warmed up to me. We met in Vegas to celebrate her 40th birthday and attend Barry's shows that weekend. YBA is more fun than a barrel of monkeys and she knows the nuances of Barry's music better than any critic I've ever read.We've had some awesome texting seasons all hours of the night when she was up with her little ones. I love her blog, I love her and getting to share in some very special family moments with her has been a blessing.

Tammy and I met through email because we were both involved in Barry's Prayer Circle. She loves God, loves shoes and loves Barry--probably in that order. She has prayed for me more times than I can count and always, without fail, makes me smile. Her positive outlook and joy in the Lord have uplifted me when I felt down and given me hope when I felt frightened and alone. Her smile lights up a room and being at a show with her is so much fun because of her energy and exuberance. Tammy was a Godsend and getting to know her has been a marvelous perk of being a Manilow fan.

Susan and I have never met but hopefully will one day. She is my newest fan friendship, meeting on the Manilow Network and enhancing the friendship through AFAN and on Twitter. She has the biggest heart and will do just about anything for anyone if asked. I've written about her previously, but I didn't want to neglect her here. She loves her grown children as much as I do mine; we have that in common. My daughter has already met her and I'm looking forward to meeting her soon and cultivating this new friendship.

As you can see, these women (and man) are like family to me. When I need a friend, they are there. It's not just about the shows, or Barry, or even the music. It's about the connection we made because of the music, but the lives that we share because of the connection. When the Manilow fans talk about their friendships, I'm sure they all have just as many stories. This post is for the friends you have made throughout the years and the memories that you share with them. It may have started with the music, but it will always, for me, be about the friends attached to my memories. Barry may have brought us together, but it was only the beginning.

Thank God that I have these friends for now and for the future,
Texas Fan

P.S. If you have some great friend stories, leave a comment and share them with all of us. We would love to read about them.


Dreamer said...

Thanks so much for including me in your Manilow memories. I never think of Vegas without thinking of you. I hope that there are many more adventures awaiting us in the future. Your friend always...

Debbie said...

Great blog Suzanne. I remember that day at the swimming pool like it was yesterday. I am usually the one that surprised people but when we met that day, it was a day I will never forget. You are a great friend and I know our friendship will last a lifetime. You are like family to me and I can talk to you about anything (and have). You have given me some great advice over the years. Thank you for everything you have done for me (and Rob). The experiences and memories will continue for many years to come.

Anonymous said...

Very nice Suzanne. Vegas holds so many memories for all of us. I'm holding out hope that there will be more special times ahead.


texas_fan said...

I got an email today from a fan and she's allowed me to post it here in the comments:

Reading your blog was the highlight of my day! The relationships you so eloquently detail are, and will be, a part of your life forever. It really is amazing what one man’s music, plus the admirable, gentlemanly way he lives his life, does for our collective souls. I was in the car this morning, listening to Radio Manilow, when “Keep Each Other Warm” came on. Then that amazing piano solo in the middle of “If I Should Love Again.” It wasn’t the words, but the music, how it was composed and arranged, that moved me to tears on the way to the office!! Crazy, I know…!!!

Your blog reminded me of a story involving my parents and their love for Barry’s music that I haven’t thought about in years. They were both huge Barry fans and every time he played Pittsburgh, they attended the show. The one that is currently up on Manilow TV (Showtime special) was taped at what was then the Civic Arena. They sat next to a young couple who had driven five hours to see the show and naturally, the four of them struck up a conversation. That one night in Pittsburgh led to decades of letters and Christmas cards, which only stopped when my mother passed away in 2001.

Perhaps only fans of Sinatra connected as much with a man’s music as Manilow fans. We certainly know the fringe elements and the “Maniloonies,” but the vast majority of the millions of people who have supported his music and career are the wonderful people you write about in your blog. Truer words were never spoken as when Barry says that at the end of the day it’s not what he does, but how he makes us feel that’s important. That certainly covers a multitude of experiences, doesn’t it??!!

Thanks again for truly “making my day!”


Anonymous said...

Suzanne, thanks for including me in your Manilow memories blog and for all the kind remarks.
As you know, I have had my ups and downs as far as Manilow friends/fans. Wowee, the stories I could tell!! Who knew? It certainly has been a trip.
But quite a while ago, I decided to only dwell on the positive and trust me, that makes everything a whole lot more enjoyable...
When my kids were growing up we lived in LA and I really didn't have the opportunity or the money to see Barry very often. Even though he did perform a lot in LA, I was busy bringing up two kids. When I did get to go to a show, I was so far from the stage, I could barely see him. Yet, I was thrilled to be there. I was never involved in the fan club. I enjoyed the music and was very happy with just that.
When I heard Barry was coming to Vegas I was so excited. My son Joe said mom, this is your time now and I'm going to make sure you get to see Barry's shows as much as you want.
And man..... has it been a blast.
I never ever thought that first night when I watched Barry step out on that Hilton stage, how it would be the beginning of a seven year adventure.
When I think of friends I've made, I think of Carol. She was the happiest person I know. She loved being here and she loved Barry. I will never forget our good times and our Barry escapades.
Then there is my bestest dearest friend Judy. We just explode with laughter every time we are together. We first met when we both volunteered to help the Manilow Fund with the AIDS walk that they did here in Vegas. That was a day just filled with so much fun and good feelings. Then we did our team HARMONY together for AFAN and I know for sure our friendship is here to stay.
Also, I am so glad you and I have become such good friends.
You were so kind to help Judy and I with AFAN and HARMONY.
I haven't made many friends these last seven years. Unfortunately, I learned my lesson the hard way.
But, the few friends I have made I know will be part of my life forever...
Thanks again,

Survivor said...

My friends and family still find it unbelievable that I met someone who turned out to be such a good friend through all of this. They keep saying it's what keeps me sane at times. What I got out of Vegas was so much more than Manilow shows alone:) It's just so good to be able to talk to someone who understands even before I say anything.
Love the blog, it speaks volumes and I can't wait to read the next one...

Anonymous said...

It is funny the small things in our everyday life that brings back wonderful memories of great times spent with wonderful friends.
I wil never forget my week in Vegas with you, my first big adventure and I was so glad you were there to share it with me. Even though we live miles apart and don't talk as often as I would like, you will always be my heart as a very dear and thoughtful friend and who knows somewhere down the road we may meet again....I am only a 20 hour flight

Wilma said...

I was watching Barry on Youtube tonight and all of a sudden some memories came back to me. When I was little, about 6 or 7 years old, between 1977 to 1978 back in Manila, Philippines, I started listening to Barry's songs. I remember these years because the following year in 1979 we moved to a different part of the Philippines. My father bought a record, it was a small record with orange circle on the middle. I would listen to it almost everyday. If I can remember the songs were Memories and Somewhere Down the Road but I am not sure. All I remember it had a nice lyrics and I just want to listen to it. My father said I was using too much batteries. We didn't have electricity back then and the player was like 12x12. Back then I know Barry's songs and his voice but didn't have a face to match the voice because we didn't have a television. I love all his songs but my favorite is Even Now. I still listen to his songs and now can watch him on Youtube. I moved here in the US 18 years ago, living here help me see Barry even on television shows only. I wish I can see him in person doing a concert. Anyway, it's not going to happen but if you guys get to talk to him let him know he has a fan way back in 1977 in Manila, Philippines and that she was a little girl back then. Thank you for this blog.

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