Tag Archives: Barry Manilow

Not Your Typical LGBTQ+ Pride Playlist

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Tune du Jour celebrates with this playlist consisting of two hundred songs by and/or about Ls, Gs, Bs, Ts and Qs. Happy Pride!

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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 68: LGBTQ Music From 1975 To 1976

Twenty songs, some performed by artists who fall somewhere under the LGBTQ umbrella, others with queer lyrical content. You’ll hear singer-songwriters, glam, disco, and songs from a musical film whose main character was a bisexual transvestite. Performers include Queen, Janis Ian and Barry Manilow (who I swear came out while his first hit single was on the charts).


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It’s LGBT Pride Month And I Need To Dance!

Because there are millions of people who tell us we shouldn’t be who we are because it doesn’t conform to who they think we should be;

Because this “government of the people, by the people and for the people” often isn’t for all the people;

Because “All men are created equal” doesn’t include those in the LGBT populations per many politicians and their constituents;

Because our Pride parades are attended not only by LGBT peoples are their allies, but by “counter protestors” who shout hateful rhetoric through megaphones in the name of religion, as these self-proclaimed Christians have no place better to be on a Sunday morning;

Because LGBT youth represent 7% of the youth population, while LGBT homeless youth make up 40% of the homeless youth population;

Because LGB and questioning youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-LGB youth;

Because queer youth need to see there are many people like them;

Because if we don’t celebrate who we are, then we tacitly say we are not worthy of celebration and things are fine as they are, neither of which is true;

Because there is strength in numbers;

Because in many parts of the world one is killed for the suspicion of being gay or lesbian;

Because in many parts of the world it is illegal and/or dangerous to show your LGBT pride;

Because nobody should live in fear of expressing their authentic self, including the asshats who attempt to intimidate us from doing so;

Because it is empowering to be able to express one’s sexuality or gender identity in a supportive environment;

Because coming together brings about positive change;

Because while marrying someone of the opposite gender has been legal throughout US history, the right to marry someone of the same gender is coming on just one year;

Because we still have a ways to get to before we reach true equality, and we’ve come too far to stop now;

Because it’s fun!;

Because diversity should be celebrated;

Because pride is respect for yourself and you deserve respect;

Because men in Speedos;

Because despite all of the bull feces, we persevere. That is why

We still need LGBT Pride Month celebrations.

Here is your expanded soundtrack:


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance – Maurice White Edition

Winston + EWF
The world lost another great music artist this week when Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, passed away from the effects of Parkinson ’s disease at age 74.

Formed in 1969, Earth, Wind & Fire have sold over 90 million records; been nominated for 17 Grammy Awards, winning six; been nominated for 12 American Music Awards, winning Favorite Soul, R&B Band, Duo or Group in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980; were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; won the Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award from the American Society of Composers and Publishers; won a Lifetime Achievement Awards from the BET Awards; received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; were inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame; won the Soul Train Music Awards’ Legend Award; became the first African-American performers to receive the Columbia Records Crystal Globe Award for selling more than five million albums outside the United States; and became the first African-American act to sell out Madison Square Garden.

Outside of Earth, Wind & Fire’s nominations, Maurice White received an additional four Grammy nominations, winning one. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. As a producer, songwriter, vocalist or musician, he has worked on records by Weather Report, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Neil Diamond, Minnie Riperton, The Emotions, Ramsey Lewis, The Tubes, Barry Manilow, Deniece Williams, Atlantic Starr and Jennifer Holliday.

Earth, Wind & Fire scored seven platinum-certified albums, with 16 top 40 albums on the pop chart and 23 top 40 albums on the r&b chart. They’ve had 16 top 40 pop singles and 38 top 40 r&b singles. Many of their best-known songs are ballads – “That’s the Way of the World,” “After the Love Has Gone,” and “Reasons” among them – but Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, so today’s playlist will focus on the group’s uptempo work, with tracks co-produced by White for The Emotions and Deniece Williams thrown in.


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Throwback Thursday – 1976

me - bar mitzvah
The blogger in 1976

This week Tunes du Jour revisits the hits of 1976.


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It’s Barbra Streisand’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Around ten years ago I took up boxing. Not as a career, but as a form of exercise. I’d never watched a match on TV – too violent for my tastes. The idea to give it a try came from my trainer at Crunch Gym. Not my first trainer – he seldom showed up for our appointments. Not my second trainer, an asshole who ignored Crunch’s slogan “No judgments” and mocked my appearance throughout our sessions, while bragging about how he once made a female client of his cry. It was the idea of my third trainer at Crunch, the actor who often called me as I was five minutes from the gym to tell me he won’t make our session as he was still at an audition. Yes, that trainer. He showed up for our appointments around 60% of the time, which was better than my first Crunch trainer. He introduced me to boxing. I learned the upper cut, the cross, the jab, the duck, some other thing that involved me not getting punched in the face, and kicks. It was great exercise, especially on those days when I came to Crunch after a frustrating day at work. I’d punch that bag like I was seeing the face of one of the assholes with whom I worked. It got out the tension and got me into great physical shape.

I dumped that trainer once I decided a 60% show-up-for-your-job rate was inadequate for my aggression-releasing needs. I continued sparring with the fourth trainer Crunch assigned me, that is when he wasn’t flirting with the female clientele or taking weights from the floor and stuffing them in his duffle bag so as to build up his home gym.

When it came renewal time I left Crunch and their lot of unprofessional trainers and signed up at 24-Hour Fitness. Though it is literally a few steps from my home, I didn’t go to the location in West Hollywood, whose equipment, like its clientele, was old and decrepit. I went to the Hollywood location, where I was assigned a trainer who was so good, we worked out together for a few years. He introduced me to that hot actor who I later saw as a defendant on Judge Judy. He won his case. A few years later the West Hollywood location of 24-Hour Fitness closed for three and a half months. It reopened with fresh new equipment and fresh new customers, though oddly, it still was not open 24 hours, at least not in a single day.

Unfortunately, there was no boxing at 24-Hour Fitness. While at a local smoothie ship I saw a business card for a boxing coach who did private training at his home. He converted his unattached garage (is that the right word – unattached? I mean detached, right? Either way, you get my drift – his garage was not attached to his house.) into a boxing ring. He used to be a professional boxer and was a model as well. Our sessions were great, and not just because he’d say goodbye to me each week with a kiss on the lips, his heterosexuality be damned. Once he kissed me on the neck. Why did I stop seeing him? No recuerdo. Maybe it had something to do with a mental ward.

I’ve had one or two trainers and taken some boxing classes since then, but they weren’t as much fun. Something was missing, besides the kisses. Still, if one were to put me in a boxing ring today with Barbra Streisand, I think I could take her down. It’s not that I have a desire to punch Barbra Streisand, nor do we have a bout on the books. I’m saying this as a poor segue into mentioning her 1979 film The Main Event, in which she portrayed a boxer manager/perfume magnate.

The film re-teamed Barbra Streisand with Ryan O’Neal, seven years after their film What’s Up, Doc? What’s Up, Doc? is a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you do, even if you’re not a fan of Barbra Streisand. Especially if you’re not a fan of Barbra Streisand. You’ll see a whole other side of her in this movie. Ryan O’Neal is great. Madeline Kahn made her feature film debut in this movie. How can you go wrong with Madeline Kahn? Austin Pendleton is in it. Kenneth Mars is in it. A lot of people are in it. I think I’ll host a viewing of it at my condo. Let me know if you’re around and interested. You should be interested.

I never saw The Main Event. Critics panned it, but the public enjoyed it. I have the soundtrack album, which includes the hit single “The Main Event/Fight.” Three times – the 45 mix, the 12-inch mix, and as a ballad. The latter is solely the song “The Main Event.” “The Main Event/Fight” is a medley. “The Main Event” was written by Paul Jabara, whose writing credits also include Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” and The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men” (on a side note, does anybody know if Chaka Khan is okay?) and Bruce Roberts, whose writing credits also include Laura Branigan’s “The Lucky One” and that Jeffrey Osborne song that goes “Can you woo woo woo?”. “Fight” was written by Jabara and Bob Esty. Esty’s writing credits also include Cher’s “Take Me Home.”

Babs + Winston

“The Main Event/Fight” is, with the Donna Summer duet “No More Tears (Enough is Enough),” my favorite Barbra Streisand single. I like my boxing coaches kissy and my Barbra Streisand songs peppy.

Today Barbra Streisand turns 73 years old. “The Main Event/Fight” kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.

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It’s My Birthday And I Need To Dance!

doggies + New Edition
Every April, to coincide with Tax Day, my former Sony colleague Rich Appel creates the IRS countdown. In this case, IRS stands for It Really Shoulda, as in It Really Shoulda been a top ten hit. People vote for songs that they feel should have but didn’t make the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100. Rich collates all of the entries and comes out with the Top 100 IRS songs.

Today is my birthday. Usually on birthdays, Tunes du Jour creates a playlist around the music of the birthday boy or girl. As Friday is dance day in these parts, I decided I would take inspiration from Rich’s IRS countdown and present to you a playlist of songs that I love to dance to that didn’t crack the pop top ten. Here are fifty such IRS tracks. (Actually, fifty-one, not because that’s how old I am but because the Diana Ross entry is two songs.) It’s my birthday and I need to dance!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

I recently came across the following piece of advice:

We tend to beat ourselves up when we fail and fail to celebrate when we succeed. Strengthen your belief in yourself by reflecting on each decade of your life and every success you’ve experienced. You can begin as early as age five when you learned how to ride a bike. Write it all down. You’ll be inspired, motivated and amazed by your list and how and can be used to face your fear.
(from lifehack.org: 13 Tips To Face Your Fear and Enjoy the Ride)

My list includes:
Cast as the second male lead in high school production of Fiddler on the Roof
First person in my family to graduate college
Became a Vice President at Warner Music
Performed stand-up comedy – won contests, was mentioned in Backstage cover stories and secured an agent
Became a homeowner at 30
Adopted two rescue dogs (previously I had a fear of dogs)
Second place in Toastmasters humorous speech contest
Named President of ImprovMasters
Successfully sued landlord
Paid off student loans
Skied down the Swiss Alps
Learned how to ride a bike

I recommend doing this exercise. You’ll remember many things you haven’t thought about in a while or perhaps take for granted. Look at the list whenever you need a reminder of your fabulousness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s Friday and I need to dance!

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“I Have Heard The Future Of Rock And Roll, And It Is The Clash.”

2014-06-26 16.10.45
“I have heard the future of rock and roll, and it is The Clash.” I said that to my friend Laura. The year was 1986. The Clash had already broken up. Sometimes I’m fashionably late to the party.

The Clash released their self-titled debut album in 1977. At that time I was very much a Top 40/Disco kid, listening to KC & the Sunshine Band, The Bee Gees, Eagles, Leo Sayer, ABBA, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow and Fleetwood Mac, etc. I’d read about punk rockers in Rolling Stone and Billboard, with their spitting and complaining. No thank you!

I heard a few Clash songs in the few years that followed – their two US top 40 singles “Train in Vain” and “Rock the Casbah,” plus “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” I liked all of those, but assumed they were the exception. They didn’t sound like the way I read punk described.

In 1986 I was working at CBS Records. One of the perks was employees could order five records or tapes each month from the CBS Records catalogue. I got the entire Springsteen back catalogue and some Dylan releases. Eventually I got around to ordering The Clash’s catalogue. I read about them so often and the records were free, so why not?

Wow! London Calling was the most impressive and the one that led to my rave review to Laura. It was not at all what I expected. It was very melodic and very accessible, with a diverse range of styles. The other albums all had their moments, enough such moments that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their albums.

Let me amend that – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their albums except Cut the Crap, released after Mick Jones left the band.

While I’m often way ahead of the general population on songs and artists that eventually gather wide acclaim, sometime I’m slow. The Clash was one of those times. And, in retrospect, I suppose I was a tad hyperbolic when I declared Men At Work to be the new Beatles.

Today Mick Jones of The Clash (and later Big Audio Dynamite) turns 59. Here are ten gems.

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Bad Songs I Love – “I Write The Songs”

The earliest known song in recorded history was performed by Eve. Not the rapper-actress whose hits include “Let Me Blow Your Mind” and “Gotta Man,” but a different Eve with no last name, the one who called the Garden of Eden home. Her song was “The Only Girl in the World,” later a hit for Rihanna. The song was written by Barry Manilow, as were “Let Me Blow Your Mind” and “Gotta Man.”

In 1976 the scientific community was rocked when Barry Manilow, in his #1 hit “I Write the Songs,” sang “I’ve been alive forever and I wrote the very first song.” A glance at his album cover photos allays any doubt as to the first part of that claim. “But how did you write that first song?,” the skeptics asked. Manilow replied “I put the words and the melodies together,” which was enough evidence to silence any doubters. He then proclaims “I am music.” He presents his case that he, Barry Manilow, wrote every song that has ever been written. Songs that make the whole world sing. Songs of love and special things. Things like a duck that loves disco and a heart that’s both achy and breaky.

In the song’s bridge Manilow sings how his “music makes you dance,” and really, who doesn’t get down to “Mandy?” He also says he “wrote some rock-and-roll,” referring to his hit “Can’t Smile Without You,” which rocks harder than anything by The Carpenters or Air Supply.

Then we get the one-two punch of “Music fills the heart / Well, that’s a real fine place to start” followed by “It’s from me, it’s for you / It’s from you, it’s for me / It’s a worldwide symphony.” Granted, those aren’t the greatest lyrics, but the man wrote 623,524,325 songs, so cut him some slack!

Now is a good time to mention that Barry Manilow did not write “I Write the Songs.” As a matter of fact, Barry Manilow did not write any of his three number one singles, the other two being “Mandy” and “Looks Like We Made It.” Manilow did write a acne medication jingle, a toilet cleaner jingle, and “Copacabana.”

“I Write the Songs” was written by Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys. He recorded the tune into a cassette and submitted it to a Japanese music festival, who rejected it as being unsuitable.
Undeterred, Johnston played the tune for a couple of friends who worked with The Beach Boys, Daryl “The Captain” Dragon and Toni Tennille. The Captain & Tennille included the song on their 1975 debut album Love Will Keep Us Together.

That same year Johnston produced an album for David Cassidy entitled The Higher They Climb, on which Cassidy took a stab at the song. (I know – Barry Manilow, The Captain & Tennille and David Cassidy! This is a glorious Bad Music I Love trifecta!) Cassidy’s version hit #11 on the UK singles chart in August of ’75.

That summer, Clive Davis, the chief of Arista Records, Manilow’s label, was in London and heard the Cassidy record on the radio. He suggested the song to Manilow. Manilow liked the song but was reluctant to record it. As he wrote in his autobiography Sweet Life, “The problem with the song was that if you didn’t listen carefully to the lyric, you would think that the singer was singing about himself. It could be misinterpreted as a monumental ego trip.”

I listened to the lyrics very carefully and can tell you that based on my multiple listens (and an interview with Bruce Johnston I read), the “I” in “I Write the Songs” is God. See that? The song is someone claiming to speak for God. Nothing egotistical about that! God wrote all the songs that make the whole world sing. This leads to the profoundly earth-shattering realization that God wrote “My Humps.” Praise be Him!

“I Write the Songs” won Johnston the 1976 Grammy Award for Song of the Year over such worthwhile nominees as “Afternoon Delight,” “Breaking is Hard to Do” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” The Beach Boys never won a Grammy. The man who wrote most of the songs for The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, won his first Grammy in 2005 – Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.” Was that his most award-worthy contribution to popular music? The “I” of “I Write the Songs” has the answer to that question, but He’s not telling. I guess God only knows.

Winston + Barry 2014-06-17

Today the man(ilow) who claims to have been alive forever turns 71. Here are some of my favorites from his oeuvre.

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