|Though he married a woman, briefly, about a hundred years ago, Manilow successfully ducked questions about his sexuality for most of his career. He seemed like the kind of guy who would always be single.|
|This was the only Manilow album I ever|
owned. He proved himself a lively showman
and his concerts were lavish events.
|Barry had the occasional uptempo hit, like the disco-tinged "Copacabana," but primarily, he was known for sappy ballads with refrains that churned around in your head long after the song was over.|
|He's hardly recognizable here. He|
spent some time in TV production
before his career as a jingle writer
Funny thing about those love ballads. For the most part, the lyrics were not gender specific. Did anyone notice this back then?
|Our hero hit #1 for the first time|
since "Mandy" with this song.
"I write the songs that make the
whole world sing," except he
didn't write it. Nobody cared.
Many, many songs were actually direct address, with the song aimed directly at the subject, rather than a tale of woe about the time "she" left me. Was this a subtle way for Manilow to duck questions regarding his own romantic life? Whatever it was, it allowed gay men to appropriate those songs without the hassle of changing pronouns.
Ah, who cares at this point. I find that I am more interested in the on-again, off-again relationship Barry had with another music superstar, Bette Midler.
Barry and Bette hit it off (not surprisingly, as The Divine Miss M has always been Best Friend to the Gays), and their professional lives were intertwined for about 3 years. Manilow produced her first two albums in the early 70s, just as his own career as a solo artist was unexpectedly taking off as well.
|Gotta love those 70s fashions.|
Somewhere in there, the Great Feud began, which was to keep the two apart for several decades, as they each rose to fame. As much as I love Miss Midler, from what I've read, the fault was mostly hers: she had trouble accepting the fact that her records sold "only" 30 million copies, while Barry's topped 80 million.
|By 2003, two older and wiser heads prevailed, and the Bette/Barry team was back in business. Manilow produced Midler's well-received tribute albums to Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee, and the two even recorded a few songs together.|
There are a couple of clips out there, of the two superstars together, but for this week's Dance Party, here's another, more unlikely, collaboration. In 1988, Disney released an animated musical adaptation of Oliver Twist, rewritten as a story about dogs. The score for Oliver and Company was written by a bunch of people, and included one song written by Barry Manilow. The tune was given to the character of Georgette, a spoiled showdog, which, by coincidence or not, was being voiced by Bette Midler. So, inadvertently, Barry and Bette were collaborating again, though in different rooms, and at different times.
|Oliver and Company predated the great animation renaissance which Disney was to enjoy a bit later, but the film was a modest success.|