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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Barry Manilow

Aired April 14, 2006 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Barry Manilow, a rare one-on-one with an entertainment giant. For years he wrote the songs and now he's been singing them on "American Idol." He'll even sing some here tonight too.
What's it like working with the idol contestants and who does he think will be the next "American Idol;" the one and only true legend Barry Manilow on his life, his incredible career and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's been a couple years but it's always good to welcome Barry Manilow to LARRY KING LIVE, the number one adult contemporary artist of all time. What a career, Grammy, Emmy, Toni Award winner, been nominated for an Oscar.

His most recent CD is "The Greatest Songs of the '50s." It has hit the top of the charts. We have a copy of it right here and you see it there. His latest DVD is "Manilow, Music and Passion" and that's been selling like gangbusters since its release last month. It's been four years since he's been on this program.

What's happening to you?

BARRY MANILOW: I love a good comeback.

KING: You go away.

MANILOW: This happens to me. This happens to me every, like every four years. The last time I was on was when that 'Ultimate Manilow" out of the blue exploded. It was another greatest hits album and it exploded. It entered at number three and everybody went "Oh, is he still alive," you know? You know I've been working all this time. This happens to us, you know, people who keep working, you know. Somehow if you're lucky it explodes again.

KING: But your music generally runs against the grain of what is modern. How do you get played on the radio?

MANILOW: I don't know. I don't think I do. I think I used to but I don't know. I really, I don't pay much attention to it, Larry. I just do what I love to do and, if I'm lucky, there's an audience out there for it, you know. And, I work with great people, Clive Davis and great musicians and great promotion people and great staffs and all and they take care of that part. For me, I just do what I love.

KING: Before we talk about these albums and the '50s album coming in number one, tell me about this Hilton deal.

MANILOW: That was an amazing thing. I was ready to not retire but I was ready to get off the road. I had just too many late planes, too many bad room service, you know, not that I -- you know they treated me great, you know, presidential this and the presidential that and all but it was 30 years of being on the road.

And I just said I have to get my life back and I was ready. I was on my farewell tour. I did my farewell tour. We did arenas filled with 20,000 and 25,000 people a night. And, unlike Cher, I meant it. I was saying goodbye and this was my last -- this is, you know, I was not going to do it. I didn't want to retire but I didn't want to go on the road.

And just as we were ending that I got a phone call from David Brenner, an old friend of mine, who said -- he was playing at the Hilton, who said the Hilton guys are looking for somebody to come in and give them a new show.

And, I said, "Well, Vegas, the place where old singers go to die, you know. Isn't that like, you know" but I thought well it would allow me to play with my band. It would allow me to continue to really, you know, enjoy the audiences and to -- because I didn't want to stop making music so I did it.

KING: You wanted to lay down roots somewhere right?

MANILOW: And to stay in one place.

KING: Like Celine Dion.

MANILOW: Like Celine, like Elton, I mean then I looked it up and they were having -- I called them. They were loving it. They loved it. I called Michael Crawford who had done (INAUDIBLE) this one little show. I said, "Well what did you think of it?" "I loved it. I bought a house there." And I said "Really?"

So, everybody -- when I got there it wasn't the old Rat Pack and, you know, glamorous girls in bikinis. It was very hip. Las Vegas has turned very young. It's like a combination of New York and the South Beach in Florida and I just lucked into this and the Hilton has been like so beautiful to us.

KING: So how did it work? How many -- how long are you committed to it?

MANILOW: Well, they've resigned us now. I'm there for three more years and I love it. These people at the Hilton have been so beautiful to us.

KING: How many nights a week?

MANILOW: I do four nights, two shows on Saturday night and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, two shows on Saturday night and we're doing great business and the audiences are so kind and beautiful and I'm just loving it. KING: How much time off?

MANILOW: It's like three weeks on, two weeks off, two weeks on, one week off. It's enough. It's enough for me to rest.

KING: A lot about the finances have been revealed.

MANILOW: Yes, they're wrong but it's -- they're wrong. It started off with like this insane amount of money. That wasn't the real right amount of money, although it did get me a lot of publicity but that's not the amount of money that -- I really don't pay much attention to exactly the amount of money but I'm doing just fine thank you.

KING: Was it upped for the renewal?

MANILOW: I imagine it was. I imagine it did go up for the renewal.

KING: That's not your part of (INAUDIBLE).

MANILOW: No, I really need to -- what I concentrate on is should I do "Somewhere in the Night" or "This One's for you." That's what I concentrate on.

KING: How is the Hilton as a performing -- that's the place where Pressley worked.

MANILOW: Yes, you know what's so beautiful about it the stage is the size of a football stadium but the audience isn't. The audience is kind of intimate. It's only just about 2,000 people. So, you can put together a really very inventive show, which we have. Things come floating down from the ceiling. The piano rolls out.

It's all -- and yet I can get very intimate with these audiences. It's not like playing for a stadium filled with people. It's really very intimate so we're just having a great time. Like I say these people at the Hilton are treating us so beautifully. I couldn't be happier.

KING: How long a show do you do?

MANILOW: Ninety minutes every night, 90 minutes, and it flies.

KING: Really?

MANILOW: It just flies.

KING: And the two on Saturday doesn't bug you?

MANILOW: No, it just flies. They fly by. I just, I can't wait to get back.

KING: You love performing.

MANILOW: You know I do now. I can't say that I did in the beginning. I wasn't exactly sure how to do it. I lucked into this record deal when I was young.

KING: Because you were Bette Midler's orchestra leader?

MANILOW: I was her piano player, yes, and her arranger and her, yes. And that's what I was going to do for my life. I never in a million years thought of myself as a singer or an entertainer. And, I made a demo because I wanted to be a songwriter and Bell Records liked what I sounded like. It was the year...

KING: Bell?

MANILOW: Bell Records. It was the year of the singer/songwriter you know and they said they would give me a record deal to record my own songs if I went out on the road and performed my own songs and I really had to think about that because I -- I never thought of performing. I mean I didn't know what to do with my legs when I would get up from the piano. What was I going to do talk to people?

KING: Hadn't sung?

MANILOW: I never, never sung in public ever but I did want to get my songs out there. I had these what I thought were wonderful songs like "Could it be Magic" and no one wanted to record them. And so, I said "Yes, all right, I'll give it a try."

I put a band together and I went out on the road and I was awful but the songs were OK but I as a performer really didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to do but the audiences were always so kind and very, very encouraging and very supportive and I learned on the job.

KING: Did critics make fun of you?

MANILOW: Always. Always.

KING: Still do?

MANILOW: Well they still do, yes. I mean it was interesting because in the beginning when I didn't know what I was doing they thought they had found somebody and they gave me great reviews. "Oh you should go down to see this guy. He's doing jazz. He's doing classical music. He's doing pop music."

As soon as a sold out sign went on and when I got "Mandy" that's when the bad reviews happened. And then over the last 30 years I've had this roller coaster which everybody has and it was, you know, it was kind of, you know, not down but it was -- I wasn't in the public eye. As soon as this album went number one, the bad reviews started coming right back again. It's what happens, you know.

KING: Barry will be singing for you tonight by the way and he did not write "I Write the Songs."

MANILOW: That's right.

KING: That's the most incredible part. All these famous songs that he did write, one of his best records "I Write the Songs," who wrote that?

MANILOW: Ruth Johnson from the Beach Boys and it's a beautiful song.

KING: Beautiful.

MANILOW: Because it's about the spirit of music and I, you know, I...

KING: But you didn't write that one.

MANILOW: I didn't write it and Clive found it. Clive finds all the oldies. Clive Davis finds everything. And, he wanted me to record "I Write the Songs," and I fought him for it. I said, "They're going to think that I'm yelling about how I write everything." He said "Well you do write a lot of songs."

KING: We'll be right back with Barry Manilow. Don't go away.

(VIDEO CLIP OF MANILOW CONCERT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP OF MANILOW CONCERT)

KING: Who came up with the idea of Barry Manilow, The Greatest Songs of the '50s?"

MANILOW: It's Clive. You know...

KING: It's Clive Davis?

MANILOW: Yes, it's Clive Davis I, you know I...

KING: Why the '50s?

MANILOW: I am in awe of this man's talent. I don't understand how decade after decade he can connect with what the public will probably react positively to. He came backstage to me after one of my shows and said "I think I have an idea." And this was the same thing he said when he gave me "Mandy." He said "I think I have a hit record idea for you."

And he gave me this list of songs and it was called "My Favorite Songs of the '50s." And he gave me the list of songs and, you know, I'm old but even the '50s are before I really got into music, you know, because I got into music when the Beatles came in and I understood Bacharach and all of that.

The '50s although as a musician I know all these songs but I really didn't really know "Que Sera Sera," not that I did that one but there were -- those were the songs that were on this list. And I said, "Really? You really think that this idea the public is going to respond to?" He said, "If you do it right I think so."

KING: The songs in this include "Moments to Remember," "It's all in the Game," "Unchained Melody," "Venus," "It's not for me to say," "Love is a Many Splendored thing." He's going to sing that tonight, "Rags to Riches," and then with Phyllis McGuire he sings a duet "Sincerely" and "Teach me Tonight," two big McGuire Sister songs, "Are you Lonesome Tonight," "Young at Heart," "All I Have to do is Dream," "What a Difference a day Makes," and "Beyond the Sea."

How did the hook-up with Phyllis McGuire come about?

MANILOW: Well that was, you know, it just made perfect sense. She also lives in Vegas. She came to see my show in Vegas and she looks great. And I said to myself, "I wonder if she still sounds as great as I bet you she does?"

I called (INAUDIBLE). I said, "Look if we're going to do these two songs, they" the McGuire Sisters, "originated Teach me Tonight and Sincerely." So he said "Sure, give her a call." I gave her a call and she said "I'd love to. I haven't been in a recording studio in a long time. I wonder whether I can do it." She sounds like she's 20 years old on this record.

KING: Were you surprised that it took off?

MANILOW: Stunned, still am, stunned. And I think even though Clive believed that the idea was right even Clive and all of Arista we were all absolutely stunned that it entered at number one.

KING: How did you hook-up with this "American Idol" thing?

MANILOW: This is my second time.

KING: I'm told they watch you. They learn from you. You judge. Give me the whole -- what do you do?

MANILOW: Well, you know, I know that it probably sold albums but that's not really the reason that I do it. I did it because I thought I could maybe pass some of my experience down to these kids who, you know, it's a hard thing that they're doing. They haven't got, you know, they haven't played in bars like I have, like all of my musician friends, you know, for hours and hours and weeks and months and years at a time and learned every song.

But they're thrown up in front of, you know, millions of people and they're asked to sing songs that they've never even heard of before. And I thought, well, maybe I could give them a couple of clues as to how to do this right and how to, you know, how to stand on a stage and what do you think of when you're singing? And what do you do with a song like "Moments to Remember."

So, I said to the producer "Give me an afternoon with them. That's the only reason I'll do it. Just give me an afternoon with them and let me work with them for a half hour each and maybe I can say something intelligent that would resonate to them, you know.

So they did and they came to Las Vegas and we worked for the whole afternoon on my one afternoon on the two-night show and we had a great time and I hope I helped. KING: Did they pay you for this?

MANILOW: I don't know. I don't think so.

KING: You don't know?

MANILOW: I don't know. Maybe they paid the scale. I did it because I hoped I could, you know, pass something down. I mean, you know, how could I keep complaining about there's no talent out there if I get an opportunity to share what I've learned, you know? Then I have no right to complain about that.

KING: Do you like that show?

MANILOW: Yes, I think it's -- I would rather it not be such -- so much of a popularity contest. I'd rather it -- I'd rather them have more people on there that could actually help these kids out.

They've got the wonderful Deborah Bird (ph), my friend Deborah Bird who actually coaches. They've got a great batch of piano players and all. I wish they could really get somebody in there that could actually teach these kids what to do but they have no time. They've got to learn this stuff in one week.

KING: They tell me the key to the success is the auditions where there are a lot of bad people.

MANILOW: I've seen that too. I can't bear it. I can't bear it. I can't. I can't watch it. It's just too difficult for me to watch.

KING: And what's the other -- we discussed the greatest hits. What's "Manilow, Live from Las Vegas?"

MANILOW: Well, the PBS people asked if we would put together for their pledge break week a DVD of the making of this wonderful Las Vegas show and the whole show itself, so we did but we did so much that we put the rest of it on this DVD and it just entered at number two, so it's...

KING: So you got two things going for you, a DVD?

MANILOW: I know.

KING: And the '50s.

MANILOW: The '50s I know (INAUDIBLE).

KING: And (INAUDIBLE) other things on the charts I'm sure it would be more in keeping with 2006.

MANILOW: I know. I'm the oldest fart on the top of the charts and I don't -- really all these young people and here I am sitting on top of the charts. It's amazing.

KING: Do you have an explanation? MANILOW: Maybe there's an audience out there that is starving for melody and a lyric maybe, not that there's not a melody and lyric out there but the '50s had some really great melodies and really great lyrics and maybe there's an audience who's missing it.

KING: How many songs have you written?

MANILOW: Have I written?

KING: Successful songs.

MANILOW: Must be going up there to in the hundreds, way in the hundreds. I wouldn't say it's gone to the thousands but it's up there.

KING: Are you good at judging how a song will do?

MANILOW: No, I'm not. I'm really not. That's another talent that, like I say, Clive has got and I've always been wrong. I've always been wrong. When I -- you play me a song and I say "I like it," it's probably not going to be a hit.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Barry Manilow. He's going to sing for us too. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANILOW: It's a great entrance right?

KATHARINE MCPHEE: It's awesome. Working with Barry was just like so effortless. He made me feel so comfortable and he's just such a legend to work with. And also just the advice that he had to offer was just so awesome.

MANILOW: It will even be hotter if you...

MCPHEE: Like sang to somebody.

MANILOW: ...if you actually, you know, find that guy.

MCPHEE: Right. I definitely thought of somebody that I could sing it to. America will never know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we get back to our interview with Barry Manilow saluting this extraordinary talent for so long a period of time, let's watch him sing "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" -- Barry Manilow.

(VIDEO CLIP OF MANILOW CONCERT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He's got one of the fastest rising albums on the charts, a future that seems full of promise, and the number one record in the country.

MANILOW: In the matter of six days, the thing just exploded. In the matter of six days, the phone started ringing all over -- all over the place. They kept saying smash, smash record, smash, and I kept saying you're nuts until it reached number one and I was still dazed by the thing. It happened so fast. I'm not interested in staying number one. I want a nice career, a long career and that would be fine with me, you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Barry Manilow, the number one adult contemporary artist of all time. He's won all the awards there are. He's a sell out at the Hilton, not he's selling out, he's selling -- never mind. "Barry Manilow, The Greatest Songs of the '50s" is a major hit as is "Manilow, Music and Passion," "Live from Las Vegas" an all new two DVD set.

So you're committed to the Hilton for another three years right?

MANILOW: Yes, I'm grateful that there's anybody out there that still wants to hear me sing.

KING: Are you still writing?

MANILOW: I am. I'm writing and, you know, I've got this Broadway musical that, you know, we've been hoping for and I think that within the next couple of weeks there might be some very good news.

KING: What is it about?

MANILOW: It's called "Harmony" and it's the true story of the first boy band in Germany in the '30s that were destroyed by the Nazis and we had never heard of them but my collaborator, Bruce, and I looked them up and said "Whoa, what is this story?" It's a very compelling story. So, we've written an original musical based on their lives and it's pretty interesting.

KING: What does it feel like? Do you still like a little Jewish kid from Brooklyn who what am I doing here?

MANILOW: Now and again. Now and again, yes, well especially during a time like this, these couple of months with the album exploding like it is and the DVD exploding like it is and people, you know, standing room only at the Hilton.

I wouldn't say a little kid from Brooklyn but I am really amazed that I'm still -- I still have my hair that I'm still, you know, I'm working and still, you know, still being able to do what I do. That's really the best revenge, you know, that I'm doing what I love to do.

KING: Do you think back to where you grew up? MANILOW: I do. I do. I think back to Brooklyn. I think back to Williamsburg. You know, Williamsburg has become pretty hip.

KING: Yes, it is in again. It's like you. Williamsburg, which is one of the -- really a dump section. It used to be.

MANILOW: Really? That's where I grew up. You mention Williamsburg to people, and I always expect like cab drivers to run for their lives.

KING: I won't take you there.

MANILOW: That's what always happened, and now, it's like the hippest place to go. I guess it's because places are so expensive in New York -- and, you know, when I was raised in Williamsburg, I saw the potential because you're right on the -- you know, you're looking at the city. It's beautiful. You're looking at New York.

KING: Shopping area and restaurants.

MANILOW: And that's what's going on there now.

KING: All right. Let's discuss the writing of a song. Where does it happen? Are you driving along and it happens?

MANILOW: I wish I could tell you that, you know, a melody pops into my head or a lyric or -- the hardest part of writing a song, for me, is the idea, that's the blood letting and that's what my collaborators -- because I work with a lot of lyricists, brilliant lyricists, that's what we pace around the room for hours and hours. Once we get the idea of what the song is going to be about, the writing of it is easy.

KING: So do you have to know the lyric first? I know a lot of people who did it the other way.

MANILOW: I have to know at least what the idea of the song is. It's easier for me if I see the first couple of lines. Oh, I see what this is, this one will never sell, they'll never understand it, that was the first two lines of this last's few. Oh, I get that, I know how to write that. I know how to write a melody to that. But that blank page is pretty terrifying.

KING: What was your biggest hit?

MANILOW: Of all time? You know, it's the weirdest answer, "Copacabana." And it was the one that was the biggest novelty, the one that the record company didn't believe in it. They thought it was a novelty song that would be on the "Cher Show" or something. And that is the one people remember.

KING: You never get tired of hearing it?

MANILOW: Never. It's the one that is the biggest moment in the show.

KING: We'll be right back with Barry Manilow. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: He'll be singing more later. We're back with Barry Manilow. By the way, you did "Copacabana" on "Dancing with the Stars?"

MANILOW: I did. And they danced. Oh boy. Like I was singing and in the middle of singing I was going, yes, wow. They were throwing themselves around the room and through their legs.

KING: OK. Let's do a why. Why did that song click?

MANILOW: I think it's the lyric. The melody is very catchy and the record with the little cowbell that was a little catchy. But I think the reason that this song is very, very popular is this brilliant lyric. It's a story in three verses and one repetitive chorus. And I don't know how they did this. And I think that really is the reason that it stayed so popular.

KING: That story -- you still say it back to the story.

MANILOW: I think it's about the lyrics.

KING: By the way, are you friends with Simon Cowell?

MANILOW: Yes. He was very good to me. Before this "American Idol," he was running my record company in England. He gave me a dance record version of (INAUDIBLE), and it was a big hit. And it was his idea to do a dance version of a ballad that I wrote and a remix of "Copacabana." And that was his idea too, and he gave me two big hit records in England over the years. And he's a friend.

KING: That's what he knows the most, right, the record business?

MANILOW: Oh, I think he's brilliant. I think he's brilliant. I mean, you know, I think, you know, he's a wisecracker, but I think he's brilliant.

KING: You're going to sing it in a little while. You're going to tell me something about "Venus."

MANILOW: You know, as I'm at the Hilton night after night, famous people come back and just shake my hand, and we're all so thrilled that they come back, so many people have come back. And I was singing "Venus" one night -- Venus, oh, Venus -- I saw a shadow start to come down the aisle.

And I thought, oh, God, the security guys are going to kill whoever this is. And this shadow came closer, Venus. And it came closer and closer. And it was Frankie Avalon. He was standing at the foot of the stage. So I grabbed his arm, and I pulled him up on the stage. I handed him the mic and he finished the song. And he looked great and he sounded great. It was a great moment.

KING: You didn't think "Copacabana" would be a hit or you weren't too sure of that?

MANILOW: No, it was a novelty song. I could never have imagined.

KING: Is there a Manilow song that you thought, this can't miss, that didn't make it?

MANILOW: A lot of them. Yes, a lot of them. I'm telling you, I'm really bad at this...

KING: You are not good at picking them?

MANILOW: I am not good at figuring out what's going to make it on the radio. I mean, I just make the best records and write the best songs I know how to write, and then I hope the record company can, you know, play with it and get it on the radio.

KING: How many hits have you had, truth?

MANILOW: Well, there's a lot of them. There is a lot of them. I think it's going in the 30s or 40s. I think it's been quite a ride, Larry.

KING: And "Copacabana" was the biggest?

MANILOW: Well, it might not have been the biggest selling record or number one, it's the one that people know me for though. I mean, around the world. You know, they may not know my name but as soon as you hit the word "Copacabana," oh, people just know that song.

KING: How did "Mandy" come?

MANILOW: That was Clive. He gave me a song -- he heard...

KING: That was written?

MANILOW: It was already written. I finished my first album on Bell Records, and then Clive took over Bell Records and changed Bell Records to Arista Records and found me sitting on his desk, my album with my face. And he said, wonder who this is? And he listened to my first album and said, well, he may have a career there. And then he went to see me, and he said I like what I am looking at. I think this guy might have a career, but he needs a hit song.

So he sent me this demo of a song called "Brandy," a rock 'n roll song, Oh, Brandy, when you came in and you gave without -- and I said, you think this is a hit song? And he said yes if you do it right, it is a hit song. So I did this record just the way this demo was of me singing like that.

And he listened to it, he said, what's that? And I said well, that's the record you just sent me. He said, no, no, no, you got to do it. It's another way. And he couldn't tell me what he was hearing. So I brought him into the studio, and I played oh, Brandy as a ballad. I changed the chords around, and I played it softly. And he said, that, that's it, just do that. And we changed the title to "Mandy" because there was already a hit song called "Brandy: a year before that by a group called The Looking Glass. So we changed it at the date to "Oh, Mandy," and I played it softly. And I did one take at the piano and that is the record. We added everything after that.

KING: Back with more of the incredible Barry Manilow right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Barry Manilow. We're going to touch some other bases, and then we're going to hear him sing again as we close things out for this special this evening. You were on Martha Stewart's daytime show and said it was bizarre being in the kitchen. That's a great set.

MANILOW: Oh, my God, it's the most beautiful set I have ever -- I mean, it doesn't end on the set. It goes into the dressing rooms and the control rooms. I mean, this woman has got great, great, great taste.

But me and kitchens are not friendly. I don't know my way around kitchens. You know, when you're raised where we were, you know, you're just lucky you got anything to eat. And so the famous wonderful great ways of cooking, they don't teach you how to do that, certainly not where I come from.

But she's comfortable doing her interviews in a kitchen. So they dragged me into the kitchen. And I'm telling you, it was like -- I've never been more uncomfortable in my life. I mean, the first question I asked was what's that? And she said, that's the refrigerator. So that's where it started.

KING: Do you talk much about your personal life? Because there's always rumors about Barry Manilow. You were married earlier, right?

MANILOW: I was. I was.

KING: No children?

MANILOW: No children. Well, no, I have got lots of family. I have lots of friends, lots of friend. I have two dogs.

KING: Do you mind people talking about you personally?

MANILOW: I like when they talk about my music. I like when they talk about how I move them. I like when they tell me about how my music has helped them. That's what I do.

KING: Do you agree with Sinatra who said my personal life is my business, my music is your business?

MANILOW: Well, he was kind of an angry guy. I wouldn't say it like that. I would say that I like it better when people talk about what my music has done for them. That's what I'm there for.

KING: There were stories that you had a rift with Bette Midler.

MANILOW: A rift. Well, I wouldn't say it was a rift. She would say that I abandoned her many, many years ago. And these days, I understand what she meant. I mean, I was her music director for a long time, and she relied on me to keep her music together.

And when she went on vacation, I got this record contract, and when she came back, I was promoting my own record. And I couldn't go on the road with her and be her music director. And she was left high and dry, and I -- you know, I tried to break...

KING: So that was a long time ago?

MANILOW: Yes. I tried to break in other music directors for her. But, you know, we had a strong bond together, so it must have been a very, very difficult period for her. And she never quite forgot it.

KING: Really?

MANILOW: She never quite forgot it. But we've made up since then because we did a couple of albums together over the last couple of years. And we're in good shape now.

KING: But you think there's still a sense of...

MANILOW: Abandonment.

KING: Yes?

MANILOW: I think it must have been difficult for her. I really -- you know, but there was nothing I could do. I had this, you know, other world that I needed to go into.

KING: Now, you're going to do songs of the 60s?

MANILOW: I am.

KING: Might as well. Why not?

MANILOW: Yes. That's the next album.

KING: What are some of the tunes?

MANILOW: Well, you know, the 60s -- I mean, I didn't know the 50s as well -- I knew all of the songs, but I didn't know them as well as I do the 60s. The Beatles came in, in the 60s, I know that.

KING: Are you going to do a Beatles' song?

MANILOW: Yes. I know that. Motown came in. I know them. A lot of wonderful standards. So I am having a much easier time with this 60s album than I did with the 50s. I had to really relearn the 50s. KING: You guested on "Will and Grace" too?

MANILOW: I did. I've done some guest spots. I don't know how these guys do it. These actors that do these sitcoms week after week, I am not good at this. Really, I pace back and forth and try to remember my four lines, four lines. You would think, you know, that after all these years -- and, you know, I just -- I'm not really good at this. When I finally get it, I'm OK. But I don't know how they do it every week.

KING: Are you totally comfortable on stage?

MANILOW: I am. These days, I am. I can't wait to get out there and these audiences night after night are friends.

KING: You once recorded saying I'm not great, I'm good.

MANILOW: And you can get pretty far on being pretty good. I'm pretty good, but I know what great is. And I don't think I'm great. There's a lot of people that would disagree. But I don't think I am.

KING: Who is great?

MANILOW: Sinatra was great. Judy was great. Dean Martin was great. Sammy Davis Junior was great. Elvis is great. Bette's great. Barbra's great. I personally do not put myself in that category. I do what I can do.

I try to move people that I'm pretty good at. I'm pretty good at moving people because I don't consider myself a great singer. I don't consider myself, you know, a great entertainer, but I think I know how to move people. And that's OK.

KING: Are you going to duet, like you did with Phyllis Mcguire in the 50s, duet with somebody on the 60s?

MANILOW: I'm thinking about it. It all depends on what songs we choose. And if there is one that makes sense, I would love to do a duet with somebody. I haven't figured that one out yet.

KING: Still going to do the 70s then?

MANILOW: Yes.

KING: It seems pretty logical right?

MANILOW: I'll just redo my own stuff. I have some ideas on how to do the 70s.

KING: Who do you like today?

MANILOW: There's this guy named James Blunt who is pretty interesting. Yes, I love his interviews, and I think I like his music, too. And I think he's got a real big career going.

But, you know -- it's interesting, since the art of song writing seems to have taken a nosedive, I've gone the way of what they call electronica music. I know, it's kind of odd. It's very bizarre music. But it is kind of -- they're breaking the rules, and they're inventive. As a musician...

KING: Electronica?

MANILOW: It is called electronica.

KING: Is it gimmicky?

MANILOW: It is not gimmicky. It is interesting music, interesting grooves, interesting ways of playing music. There is no lyrics, hardly an lyrics.

KING: What do you think of Harry Connick?

MANILOW: Excellent. Excellent. And he is doing so well on Broadway too.

KING: Michael Buble?

MANILOW: Excellent.

KING: Good guy too.

MANILOW: Good guy. Oh, a real good guy. And he's bringing back great music too.

KING: Barry, thank you for the visit.

MANILOW: My pleasure Larry.

KING: We are going to close it out. Don't go away. Barry is going to sing some more. Right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Barry Manilow will close out the session. We have got a double-header for you here, "Venus" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" Barry Manilow.

(MUSIC)

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