I saw Barry Manilow on Broadway last Thursday night, and it was wonderful.
My love for Barry Manilow and his music started right after I came out of the womb, practically.
As a baby my mother used to sing a variety of songs to get me to stop crying, but the one she sang the most was “Can’t Smile Without You.” To this day, it gives me a warm glow inside.
Pretty much since childhood, I’ve loved Barry. You can mock all you want; I’m sure I’ve heard all the jokes you might make about the man who wrote so many awesome songs in the 1970s and 80s.
I have suffered my Fanilow status like a badge of honor, and was thrilled to finally see him in concert in Las Vegas in 2008.
Why do I love him? Lots of reasons. One is that he’s never pretended to be anything but what he is: A composer who writes and sings simple, beautiful songs about life.
Another reason is he seems to get such joy out of singing, and playing with his audience. He knows he was just a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who was fortunate enough to be exposed to music and had a gift for it, and he seems to revel in every moment of his fame.
And for a third reason, he just writes great songs! “Weekend in New England” is a beautiful mixture of melody and lyrics; so is “I Made it Through the Rain,” and of course, “Copacabana,” the song that will be mentioned first in his obit.
Oh, I know he’s slipped in recent years; at Thursday’s show, (which, I’ll have you know, had plenty of under-40 people besides myself) his voice was a little weaker than usual, he didn’t move around all that well, and yes, his face bore the damage of way too much plastic surgery.
But for 90 minutes, he told stories and laughed and had a killer backup band helping him along. He gave the crowd exactly what it hoped for, and I think that’s all you can ask in a performer.
So go ahead and mock us Fanilows if you want to. We’re thrilled the guy’s strill around and performing, giving us all a few more smiles.
**If you were watching the Baltimore Ravens get awarded the Lombardi Trophy after that scintillating and bizarre Super Bowl on Sunday, you may have heard coach John Harbaugh immediately pay tribute to O.J. Brigance when he was interviewed, calling him “an inspiration.”
Brigance is a former Ravens player who suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and ESPN did a beautiful and touching piece on him a few weeks ago. Watch, and then be thankful for all that you have in life.
**Finally today, here’s a pretty funny Will Ferrell commercial that most of America didn’t get shown during the Super Bowl; sort of a “rebuttal” to the GoDaddy.com ad with supermodel Bar Rafaeli and the computer tech dude. Glad we didn’t get any close-ups of Will Ferrell, yeesh.