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Interview with Barry Manilow

Aired February 5, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was supposed to remain in the background.


ANDERSON: He was the piano player. But the background wasn't big enough for Barry Manilow. And today, he is one of the most beloved performers of all time.


ANDERSON: Manilow was first discovered by legendary music executive, Clive Davis, when he was opening for a Dionne Warwick show.

CLIVE DAVIS, MUSIC DIRECTOR: I went back stage right after the show and said, "Welcome to Arista Records." That's how it began.

ANDERSON: Their first top song together was "Mandy" and then the hits just kept coming.


ANDERSON: Five of his albums were on the best-selling chart simultaneously -- a feat achieved only by a select few.

Now, Manilow is releasing his 64th album, "Barry Manilow: The Greatest Love Songs of All Time." From accidental star to music legend, Barry Manilow is our Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: I promise you, I never thought I'd be lucky enough to say our Connector of the Day, Barry Manilow, joins us live now from Los Angeles.

Barry, we've just seen where you've been in the career. This is the 64th album and you still keep going.

How do you do it?



MANILOW: Stop reminding me that it's the 64th album. I'm so old.

But it is -- but it's a great album. It's a great album. I -- I don't say that that often. I'm usually pretty quiet about the albums that I make and hope that they'll sell and people will like them.

But wow! This one is very special. It -- it enables me to sing songs that were written by the great masters...


MANILOW: George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer. And I had a great time doing this album.

ANDERSON: Good for you.

And let's get to some of the viewer questions, because this is their part of the show, not mine.

Ambroos writes in and simply asks: "What is your source of inspiration?"

MANILOW: What is my source of inspiration?

Well, you know, every song is different. If -- if the question is about when I write songs, every song is different and, you know, the world is my source of inspiration, but, you know, it all depends on what I want to write about, you know. And then I think, well, what would grandpa would have done?

What would grandpa have done in that situation?


MANILOW: Or what -- what would, you know, somebody that I really cared for feel like in that situation?


MANILOW: But every song is different, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right.

Sheila is -- has written in. And she says, "What is the biggest difference that you see in the music industry today as opposed to when you first started?"

MANILOW: Well, it seems to me that the focus of the music industry has focused -- has turned to be making great records and not writing great songs. And that makes me sad. And that's why this album means so much to me, because being able to introduce people -- and maybe even budding songwriters...


MANILOW: songs like "I Only Have Eyes for You" and "Love is a Many" -- "Our Love is Here to Stay," maybe that will turn people on to write songs in that vein instead of just making great records, because that's what I think is going on...

ANDERSON: But you talked...

MANILOW: ...out there.

ANDERSON: You talked about there being something quite sad out there. And Helen says, "When you're down and feeling a bit blue, what lifts you up and gets you going again, Barry?"

MANILOW: Well, you know, it's -- it's -- I guess it's music. I guess it's -- I put on my favorite classical music.


MANILOW: I put on The Beatles. I put on Crosby, Stills & Nash. I put on Lady Gaga. They get me up and they -- they -- they inspire me.

ANDERSON: Well, let me tell you, I've got Barry Manilow, so I -- I hope you are -- I hope you enjoy that.

Annie Lion says, "Do you ever forget the words to a song while you are singing it?"

MANILOW: Very, very rarely. Honestly, I've been very lucky. So far, my brains are still together and very rarely do I -- do I do that.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about the -- the new world of music and social media, because we have a number of questions in.

Bashonun from Nigeria asks: "How do you cope, as an artist, with piracy, for example?"

MANILOW: I pay no attention to it. You know, my -- my -- my job -- my creative job ends when I hand the record in. After that, I cross my fingers and I hope that the world loves it and I really -- honestly I'm -- I don't pay attention to most of it.

ANDERSON: Do you ever -- Fobrowitch (ph) asks -- or "Have you considered using the social media and the Internet to connect with your fans?"

Are you doing that, Barry?

MANILOW: Well, you know, I do. I -- I have a fan Web site, you know, that's a beautiful Web site. It's And the people that handle it just are -- you know, are artists, you know. And now and again, you know, I check in with everybody by writing a little letter and, you know, just...


MANILOW: ...just checking in with everybody. Sometimes I actually answer questions, like we're doing today, on that Web site. So...


MANILOW: I do -- I do connect with fans.

ANDERSON: All right, well, fans, get on that site.

A couple of questions here. Brenda asks, "If you could perform somewhere in the world where you've never been, where would it be?"

And Mona from India I think hopes it's going to be India, although I'm sure you've been there. She says: "I'm a huge fan. When are you coming here?"

MANILOW: Oh, well, I -- no one's ever invited me to come to India. But the one place that I would love to play is Israel. And I got an invitation to play in Israel many, many, many years ago. And I won some award or something. And -- and then I guess is just kind of disappeared. But that would be the one place I would like to play.

ANDERSON: All right, Israel. But -- but you're being invited by a number of fans to India, so get that on the -- on the program.

Rozann finally asks simply this: "Which of all of your own songs, Barry, is your all time favorite?"

MANILOW: You know, I get that question a lot. And, you know, it changes every time. They're like my children, you know, I mean I -- I, you know, all I ask is they call me on the weekends. I'm kidding.

But -- but...


MANILOW: But if I had to choose one, I -- I always go back to "Could It Be Magic?," which is on the first album. And it was a song I wrote based on the Chopin "Prelude in C Minor." And it just felt like a very brave thing to do for a young guy to put a seven minute song based on a Chopin prelude on a pop album.


MANILOW: And when I listen back to it, I still -- I still love it.

ANDERSON: You're pretty proud of yourself.

Good for you.

Barry, it's been an absolute pleasure.

The fans and the viewers will have enjoyed it.

And we've really enjoyed it here at CNN in London.

You're our Connector of the Day.

MANILOW: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much, indeed.

Of course, it's your part of the show.

That wraps up another great week of Connectors on the menu.