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CNN Live Event/Special

Being Barry Manilow. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 16, 2022 - 23:00   ET





DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's it like being one of America's most iconic performers?

Defying early critics.

BARRY MANILOW, MUSICIAN & ENTERTAINER: They were trying to annihilate me. They didn't want me on that stage.

BASH: And inspiring legions of devoted fanilows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're one of my idols.

BASH: Half a century ago, his catchy melodies hit a chord and made him a global sensation.

(On camera): That's it?

MANILOW: And I went, her name was Lola.

BASH: About to break a Vegas record set by the king himself.

MANILOW: It doesn't feel like 600 shows. It's great. Let's go 4000.

BASH: And bringing his beloved musical to New York. Quite arrived for the 78 year old musician who never wanted to be a performer.

MANILOW: My life really exploded into a million pieces.

BASH: The highs, the lows and most importantly, the music. It's all part of being Barry Manilow.


BASH: Good evening, I'm Danna Bash in New York. Welcome to our latest episode of Being, a series where I spend time with people of influence and try to find out what it's like to be them. Tonight, Barry Manilow, the 78 year old icon is breaking records in Las Vegas, and he's out with a new musical here in New York City, harmony, which he calls his proudest achievement. I talked to Manilow about fame, about criticism and how he keeps it fresh after all of these decades on the stage. What it's like to be Barry Manilow.

You're a singer, you're a songwriter, you're a composer. You have been a household name for 50 years. You are about to break Elvis Presley's record here at the West Gate in Las Vegas. What's it like to be Barry Manilow?

MANILOW: I'm just a regular guy. When you say all those things, it's -- I keep forgetting that guy do those things. But I just consider myself a working musician. That's who I am. And, you know, I have a great personal life wishes, really. I love my partner. I love my dogs and I love making music. And so when you remind me that there's this other part Barry Manilow and capital letters, I have to keep remembering that that's part of me too.

If Mandy hadn't happened all those years ago, I probably would just be one of the guys in the band. This thing that happened was totally unexpected. I had no desire to do it. I'd never went after becoming a performer or a singer or anything in the public eye. It was totally a surprise.


BASH: What happened was sudden stardom when Manilow released Mandy in 1974. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and became his first gold single.


BASH: Clive Davis came to you with a song named Brandy. And you man load it up.

MANILOW: I found the love song in this rock and roll song. Because I knew I couldn't do that. That rock and roll thing. I tried it and Clive Davis came down and heard my rock and roll version just like the original. And he said, what's that? I said, well, that's the thing you just gave me, it was terrible. I said I know it's terrible. But in the afternoon in order to learn the song, I played it slowly. I found the love song in it. And he said just do that. Just do that. I did the piano and the vocal. And that's it. One take. It's a very honest reading of that of that song.


BASH: Manilow may not have gone looking for fame, but when fame found him anyway.

MANILOW: My life exploded into a million pieces. And it was the best of times and the worst of times. Because again, I was not prepared for it. I don't think anybody's prepare for fame. You know, fame is, good luck to all the young people. Because I mean, I wasn't young when it happened. I was like 29 and I had already conducted for bet at Carnegie Hall and I had already done arrangements for singers and I was in the world of being a musician. So when this hit, this interviews and performances.


I, you know, it just I didn't know what -- how to handle it. Thank goodness, I didn't go on to drugs and I could easily understand how that happens to young people. It throws you. It absolutely throws you, especially for me who didn't expect that most people, most young people want it. They, you know, I can't wait to get on the stage, I'm going to have a hit. It was never even in my mind to have anything like that happened. As a matter of fact, after Mandy came up, I was hoping you would all go away, so I could go back to my regular life. But it didn't.

BASH: It didn't because -- well, because you kept making hits.

MANILOW: Yeah. Yeah. Because, you know, it kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Yeah.

BASH: You said fame got to me. I turned into a person that I didn't like.


BASH: How is that?

MANILOW: There were a couple of years there that I was a brat. It was early on, when it was just getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And I didn't stay brat for very long. I didn't like myself. That's not who I am. That's not who I am.

BASH: How did Barry Manilow the brat manifest itself?

MANILOW: I was rude to people. You know, I've apologized. I didn't like myself when I was doing that.

BASH: But the fact that you caught yourself.


BASH: And you put a stop to it?

MANILOW: Yeah. Well, you know, there was this word that kept coming up with gratitude. And it may have been around there. It just kept hitting me in the face this gratitude because, you know, I was having a fantastic life. Only I wasn't enjoying it. It was just a big job.


BASH: For Manilow popular success has not always come with positive reviews.

(On camera): At the beginning, the critics were pretty tough on you.

MANILOW: Yes, that would be a yes. Yeah, it was rough. It was rough. I look back at these days. And, you know, I don't know how I actually got through it. I mean, they were trying to annihilate me. They didn't want me on that stage.

BASH: What was their criticism?

MANILOW: They put down all the songs that I was singing. They put down my demeanor. They put down my clothes. They put down my face. I mean, they just hated me every -- but it wasn't just one quick. It was all of them.

BASH: That must have been really tough?

MANILOW: Yeah. Yeah. It was really tough. But I believed in what I was doing. Because I heard what the audience wanted. They were screaming at the end of could it be magic, and they were screaming at the end of I am your child. And I believed in what I was doing. I knew that I wasn't really good at what I was doing. But I think I was getting better. I was getting laughs and I was comfortable behind the piano. Yeah, I would read the reviews. Don't ask me why I would do that.

BASH: Well, that's what I was going to ask you, why did you just -- did you stop reading them?

MANILOW: It's easy to say that but it's not easy to stop reading it. So I would, I pull the covers of my head. I would go into self-pity for a couple of hours. And then I would get dressed and go to rehearsal and do the show that night. And what else am I going to do? Run away and hide? Everything changed. And that, you know, it was 10 years of this, 10 years of being beaten up on every concert or on every album, and on every TV show. Don't ask me how I got through it. I just believed in the music. My band loved that. The audiences seemed to love it. My family loved it.

BASH: Even just recently, I'm sure you saw what happened in New Zealand. The government thought that they were going to punish protesters by playing your music and the protesters embraced it.

MANILOW: Yeah, that's happened before. They've done that before. And they usually sing along with the records, and that doesn't work for them. It usually backfires on them.

BASH: In fact, loving or hating to love Barry Manilow has been a cultural touchstone for decades. From the Breakfast Club in 1985.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Barry Manilow know that you ride his wardrobe?

BASH: To Will & Grace in 2003.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are called a big fan 82, oh my God, you're like the leader of the fanilows.

BASH: Even in Family Guy in 2008.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love Barry Manilow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god, he's the best. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have everything he's ever recorded.

BASH: And his fans or fanilows are zealous.


The term fanilow, do you like that term?

MANILOW: I've liked it. I like it better now than I ever did. I thought it was put down at first but people come over to me and say, I'm a fanilow. And I'm proud of it and it kind of went from, in my mind being snide put down. A lot of fans hated that. They really hated being called fanilows. But it's turned into a compliment. It's turned into these people are telling me they like what I do. I'm a fanilow. And then really serious about it. So I've come to embrace it. I really have, I don't want that at all now.

BASH: All right. You want to go play some music?

MANILOW: Yeah, come on.


Coming up. How does he write the songs everyone sings?

MANILOW: Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl. I mean, a really anybody could have written that.

BASH: Manilow tells me how he did, next.




MANILOW: Oh look, a piano.

BASH: Oh, imagine that.

(Voice-over): Being Barry Manilow means writing tunes that people can't get out of their heads.

(On camera): Can you boil down what your songwriting process is?

MANILOW: I usually write when I have a good lyric to write to. I put the lyric on the piano like Copa. Bruce and I have decided that we want -- we went down to reel and my first nervous breakdown. We went to reel and recess with my wonderful lyrics, friend and songwriting partner, and we were on the beach on the Copacabana Beach, and they were Copacabana ashtrays, and Copacabana towels and Copacabana -- it was all over and he said, has there ever been a song called Copacabana? I said, I don't think so. And he said, OK, we finished our vacation. And he called me he said, OK, what do you want to talk to me about? I said, make sure somebody dies, I want to make it like an NGO called Musical. And he had his writing partner at that time, Jack, they sent me this lyric, her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, you got to be really a bad composer not to be able to find the melody to, her name was Lola. She was a showgirl. I really, anybody could have written that, you know?

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl. So I put the melody to that wonderful lyric.

BASH: And something like that. Did you start out? Do you play around? And do you start out with different kind of --

MANILOW: No, I just played the lyric on the piano, and I went --

BASH: And that's it.

MANILOW: Her name was Lola, and that's the Copa. I just played it. I hate the -- and sometimes they come that fast. When the Lyric is that good. It just seems right at me.

BASH: And you said sometimes they come that fast. What happens when they don't?

MANILOW: They don't work. And sometimes I just work on it and work on it and work on it and go back to it. Or no, I'll get it on closing. And I think the listener can hear the struggle because they've never worked those songs that I struggle with. But the ones that come quickly, most of the time they work.

BASH: I know you're very collaborative with your writing partners.


BASH: When you start from scratch lyrics and the enemies like how does that work?

MANILOW: Well, the hard part is coming up with the idea. What are you saying? What do we want to write? And that's the one -- that's where we all pace around the room. But once we finally get the idea that it's kind of fun to write the song, then you know, it all starts to come out and what about this chord? And what about that melody? What about this lyric? As long as we know why we're writing, what we're writing, but I'm not really good at just writing a song. I've never been good at just writing a song, picking out of the air. I have to know what -- why am I writing this? And what are we saying in this song? Then I can do it.

BASH: When you listen to music now, what do you --

MANILOW: I don't.

BASH: You don't.

MANILOW: I don't listen to music. I never have. I don't --

BASH: Really?

MANILOW: I don't listen to the pop radio. It was too hard. I really got to slog through a lot of stuff that I'm not crazy about in order to hear something went by Sting or by Paul Simon or somebody who had -- because I'm a melody guy. I really love a good melody and melody seems to have taken a nosedive.

BASH: Even now, the lyric -- even now when I'm climbing up the stairs.

MANILOW: That's Morty -- Morty Palitz, my old, old high school friends.

BASH: Can you play that.

MANILOW: It's a nice song, right?

Even now, when I'm climbing up the stairs. When there's someone home who's waiting just for me. Even now I think about you as I'm climbing up the stairs. And I wonder what to do so she won't see.

And there's a nice chorus here, right?

Even now when I have come so far, I wonder where you are. Nice one, right?

BASH: Because it's so simple. And it says so much.

MANILOW: That's another way of having a hit record, keep it simple and say so much. I just write that one down, Dana.

BASH: Can I ask you a couple questions about jingles while you're sitting here?



I am so proud of that.

BASH: You should be.

MANILOW: Well, OK. Should I be?

BASH: Do it, of course, why not.


MANILOW: That's my greatest hit. I made it.

BASH: I bet.



MANILOW: You're going to have to play -- I'm pleased with this, yeah, but --

BASH: Does that just come to you, again? Like when a band aid or the advertising company came to you and said we need something for Band aid. How does that work?

MANILOW: They give you a lyric.

BASH: Oh they do. If I were to say, give me a jingle for CNN.

MANILOW: I don't know.

BASH: This is CNN. James Earl Jones.

MANILOW: I will need lyric. Yeah. This is CNN. That's it, right?

BASH: That's good. You're hired.

(Voice-over): Coming up, the secret he had to keep from his fans.

(On camera): You were worried that it would end your career if people knew we get --

MANILOW: Oh, in the beginning, yeah, in 75, no. Are you kidding?



BASH: Being Barry Manilow at his Las Vegas residency means glitz and glamour and staying where Elvis Presley did.

(On camera): This is the Elvis way?

MANILOW: This is the Elvis way. Yes. Can you feel his presence here?

Everybody want to hear Copacabana?

BASH: A far cry from where then Barry Pincus grew up what he calls the Brooklyn slums raised by his mother Edna and his grandparents. They barely scraped by.

MANILOW: I come from a rough section of Brooklyn called Williamsburg, yeah, Williamsburg Brooklyn.

BASH: Did you feel the struggle? Did that impact you?

MANILOW: I did. And I'll never forget the moment when I asked her something. And she opened to a person who was she said, there's no money here. There's no money in this purse. That was the first time I realized, oh, wait, hold on a second. I can't even get a stick of gum.

BASH: How did you think that impacted you? How was that stuck with you now that you can --

MANILOW: It was reality that hit me. And, yeah, threw me because, you know, when you're young, you feel very secure, surrounded by adults that was deep, knowing that they were struggling to survive.

BASH: How did you become interested in music? MANILOW: I was never not interested in music, and my family, you know, poor as they were, and it didn't know what to do with me. They knew I was musical, you know, this big room. The first thing they did was to film an accordion in my hands. Every Jewish and Italian kid in Brooklyn had to play the accordion. You couldn't get out of Brooklyn unless you play the accordion.

BASH: In fact, is first musical gig was producing for his mom. Did she live to see your success?

MANILOW: Yeah, she did. She was very proud. She was. She had the mink coat with the side on the back on Barry's mother.

BASH: No, she didn't.

MANILOW: Not really but she may as well.

Are you sure, you're my mother? I'm tall and skinny and you're -- I got blue eyes and you got brown eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got black hair and you got brown hair.

MANILOW: But it's this that gives you a way.


MANILOW: She was a good singer. She should have made it but I got in the way.


MADDOW: She was a good singer. So, when I learned to play the piano, I would do her arrangements. And, you know, they were great. They were great. And she sounded better. And I, you know, I love doing it. So that's where it started.

BASH: He moved to Manhattan and began arranging music for other artists, including an undiscovered singer named Bette Midler.

MANILOW: I got this phone call from this Yenta (ph) on the phone. I said, who is this? Bette Midler and she came over and we didn't get along. And we didn't get along. She was abrasive. I couldn't wait for her to leave. But I took the job. And I played for her at the Continental Baths that Saturday night. And I'd never seen anything like it in my life. I'd never seen talent like that.


MANILOW: She was funny. She was -- she could sing anything. I mean, she didn't give me any hint during our rehearsals that she was even capable of that. And the audiences, the audience was crazy for her. I was crazy for her. I was speechless at the end. I was breaking piano keys playing so hard for her.

BASH: When you look in the mirror, do you still see the kid from Brooklyn? MANILOW: No, I see a guy. Like I said in the beginning. I'm just a guy. I'm a musician. I see a musician. I see a guy aging. You know? And I'm happy I got to get a gig here. And I love working with a band. And I'm happy that people still like the music I make.

BASH: Yeah. I just -- because for most people, they live their lives and they are "regular people." And it's hard to understand what it's like to be as famous as you are.


MANILOW: I don't think like that.

BASH: Yeah.

MANILOW: Am I that famous?

BASH: You're pretty famous, yeah.

MANILOW: I'm serious. I don't see that. I have a very small world that I live in. And I'm always surprise.

BASH: That keeps you -- that probably keeps you healthy.


BASH: In every way.

MANILOW: Maybe. I mean, honestly, you ask my friends, they, you know, I've got a, as many friends as you do. And as everybody watching this, and I love them. And I have my very normal, really very normal life.

BASH: It was only a few years ago that Manilow revealed he is gay, and married to his longtime manager and romantic partner of more than 40 years, Garry Kief.

MANILOW: Everybody over these years, everybody knew I was gay. Everybody knew Garry and I were a couple. I mean, the band that -- I can even think the audience's must have known that I was a gay man. And Garry was my partner. So doing this People Magazine thing, it was, it was no big deal for me. My family knew. Everybody knew, what's do you -- what's the big deal? So it really wasn't a very big deal. Why did I do it? Because I think they were going to do it anyway. And I just wanted to make sure that they said the right things.

BASH: You said that you were worried that it would end your career, if people knew you're a gay?

MANILOW: Oh in the beginning, yeah. In 75, or you're kidding. In 1975 when Mandy came out, no, I would have no career at that point. No, no, we always seem to be more enlightened. And I'm happy about that. And too bad. You know, all of us in 1975 couldn't be who we really are. And I couldn't. It's stuck. It's stuck not to be able to say who you are and not to be able to be who you are, still stinks in some portion of the of the globe. It's still it's awful. Not to be able to be who you are. That's quite a sense. Really, would you like that? Would you like to live like that?

BASH: No, no.

MANILOW: Would you like to live like that?


MANILOW: It's a terrible thing to do.

BASH: Yeah. No.

MANILOW: But I'm so glad that it's beginning to ease up. I have the jackpot when I met Garry Kief. I really did. You know, we've been together for 43 years. 43 years, and this Valentine's Day he sent me flowers. I can't say anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making their American debut, the comedian harmonists.

BASH: Up next, after decades, the Project Manilow calls his proudest moment as a songwriter is opening in New York City.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello New York, we are the comedian harmonists.

BASH: This spring being Barry Manilow means writing the music that other people sing.


Off Broadway in New York or the revival of his beloved musical harmony.


Written by Manilow and his longtime collaborator, lyricist Bruce Sussman, Harmony tells the story of a group of German singers. Some Jewish, some not who hit it big in the 1920s and '30s.

(On camera): They were comedians.

MANILOW: They were Canadians.


MANILOW: It was brothers.



SUSSMAN: They invented this wild combination of things where they're brilliant, sophisticated musical harmonies, and they were funny.

The six brilliantly talented young men not only found musical harmony, but they found personal harmony.


Even in their relationships, a Jewish fella marries a Gentile woman, a Gentile member of the group marries a Jewish woman. It was harmonious in every way standing in stark contrast to what was happening in the world around them.


MANILOW: You don't know them in America, but they were so famous that the story is even weirder, because what happened to them, they just disappeared. All their records were --

SUSSMAN: Destroyed.

MANILOW: Destroyed all their movies, 12 movies were burned. They just annihilated them after being sold tremendously popular around the world.

BASH: It's a story the writing partners have been working on for more than 20 years. They met 50 years ago and plan to be like Rodgers and Hammerstein.

SUSSMAN: We started out wanting to write for the stage and this pop career wasn't annoying distraction.

MANILOW: Bruce is always this old, old Mandy. That song.

BASH: OK, to be fair, you might have been upset about Mandy but you nudge that pop star status along with a little song called Copacabana?


SUSSMAN: Yes, it's true but, you know Copacabana was an ice cream sundae. No, it was just -- it was frothy, and it was fun to do. And it was stylistic -- stylish. But this is, we have to put ourselves in to the head of 1920s, 1930s Germany between the wars.


BASH: Harmony's relevance now is chilling with war raging in Ukraine, innocent lives disrupted by hate.

(On camera): Doing this musical now with everything going on, not just in the world but with anti-Semitism on the rise?

SUSSMAN: Unprecedented new levels of anti-Semitism. I think one of the many joys about doing this show now is that it seems to be resonating more than ever. And that's remarkable that after everything we've been through that it's landing at this time.

MANILOW: But sounds very current. SUSSMAN: It sounds very current. It's going to be interesting to see what the reaction is.

BASH: Yeah, which is, as musicians and doing a project like this, you want it to be relevant. But given the subject matter, you don't want it to be irrelevant, right?



SUSSMAN: He does something that I envy because I can't do it. He dreams melodies.

BASH: Do you, really?


SUSSMAN: He do. He dreams melodies. You know, he'll call me up, you know, ungodly hour in the morning to say, I dreamt the melody for blah, blah, blah, last night, and I went no, and he plays and I go oh my God. That's exactly right.

BASH: Did you get up in the middle of the night and capture it, so you don't forget?

MANILOW: Yeah. I run to the piano and enter the recorder before it goes away.


BASH: Barry, you have said, without a doubt, this is the one piece of work that I want to be remembered for?


BASH: Why?

MANILOW: This is what I started off wanting to be. This is the kind of Broadway musical that I always wanted to write. It's got every style of music that I have always loved. It's not just one style. You know, you would think of Barry Manilow is going to be all ballads. You know, it's not every song is totally different than the one before it. And I just loved, loved doing it.


SUSSMAN: This is the Barry I want everybody to know about.

MANILOW: Oh, thank you.


BASH: Next, Barry Manilow takes the stage.



MANILOW: Hello Las Vegas.

BASH: Being Barry Manilow means to give the audience the best shoulder light night after night.

(On camera): You're about to break Elvis's record here.

MANILOW: Isn't that nice?

BASH: Oh, first 600 shows.

MANILOW: Yeah, isn't that nice.

BASH: What's that mean to you?

MANILOW: Great. It's great. I love it. It doesn't feel like 600 shows, it's great. Let's go 4000. We might.

BASH: Double record.

MANILOW: We might.

BASH: Yeah.


BASH: When you started performing, you didn't think you were very good at it?

MANILOW: I wasn't. No I didn't think I wasn't. I didn't know what the heck I was doing.

BASH: So how did you learn?

MANILOW: They let me. The audience let me night after night. It was all because they allowed me to do it.


MANILOW: And I try to make every time I sing Can't Smile Without You, those words, I try to make them different every time and the only way to make them different is the action has to be Can't Smile Without You and now she's leaving Can't Smile Without You. And now she's -- so I've got to know where she is, where Garry is or where Grandpa is on every song. And they become really full. And they've -- and they never get boring. If every singer did what I was doing, they would never retire because it's thrilling every night.

BASH: So not only helps the audience feel that you're connecting with them, it helps you, fulfilling for you.

MANILOW: Yeah. Because otherwise, you know, singing Can't Smile Without You for all these years, you would think that I would actually start to think about Chinese food. And most people do. I don't. Because I'm in a scene every night, a different scene that I make up. You know, I seem to a different person every night. So, it's always very specific and that's why I can keep it fresh like that.

BASH: It sounds like it's like theater, musical theater?

MANILOW: It is. And most pop singers don't know that. So what they do is Can't Smile Without You, Can Smile, they close their eyes. And if you close your eyes when you're singing you leave the audience out. I never close my eyes. Because I'm looking on the things, singing somebody, would you think everybody should?


BASH: Yeah.

MANILOW: The great Sinatra never close his eyes.

BASH: It's so interesting.

MANILOW: She was an actor too.

BASH: Yeah.


BASH (voice-over): What was most surprising to see is how hard he still works for every show, every melody, every note.


BASH: Is it true that you don't warm up your voice a lot. Is that true?

MANILOW: I don't. I've never had a singing lesson. I don't consider myself a singer. I consider myself a musician.

BASH: So there's no me, me, me happening in this dressing room?

MANILOW: No, you never hear that. Only when I lose my voice since most of the time I do after three and four nights in a row. On the fourth night, nothing comes out. And then it does come back. I don't know.

BASH: You've been to amazing singers and musicians.

MANILOW: Oh, please, if you only knew.

BASH: You've been together for so long.

MANILOW: Nobody ever believes me. I'm so proud to say. Nobody ever leaves. They've been with me for -- I can't even -- they just -- they love it. I love them. It's really a family. You know, I'm an only child, these are my brothers and sisters. We really are.

BASH: So when did you start with him? KYE BRACKETT, BACKUP SINGER: 1978.


BRACKETT: We have rehearsal every day because there's some piece or something that he wants to fix. And, you know, you want to be mad, but you can't be mad at someone who cares.


BRACKETT: You know what I mean. You can't -- he cares.

TAYLOR: He's super intentional about the music he's written and is writing. And he's super intentional about his performance, a moment to moments like Stripe, imagine it's like an acting class. He's always in the moment.


RON WALTERS JR. MUSIC DIRECTOR: He always wants to keep refreshed for the audience because they are you know, a lot of these songs, he's got to do Mandy every night. It's got to go, I write the songs every night. But for him, it's, you know, I'd love to do a chord change here or change the rhythm here or something like that. And I don't know if the audience is aware, but it does. It keeps it fresh for us and it keeps it fresh for him.

BASH (voice-over): One way Manilow is keeping it fresh, working in a new number that plays on his newfound TikTok fame. And it wouldn't be a Vegas show or a Barry Manilow one without a little or OK, a lot of kitsch.

(On camera): I want to show you my favorite thing, I mean, you can't top it?

MANILOW: Yeah, I haven't seen that.

BASH: Where would you like to be towel? Would you like the Barry in this towel? Or would you like (inaudible)?

MANILOW: Everybody wears --

BASH: Everyone wears (inaudible).

MANILOW: Yellow feathers in her hair.

BASH: Of course.


BASH: Or diehard Fanilows. That sense of nostalgia is a big part of the appeal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God. I love you from my whole life.

MANILOW: Thank you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife loves you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to meet you. Can we take a picture? Thank you.

MANILOW: All right.


BASH: It must just be such a high to be able to be up here, sing songs that people can sing back to you. They know every word and you just make them feel good.

MANILOW: It's the only reason I keep doing it. You know when that happened, I was playing the Gershwin Theatre in New York. And that they put the lights on the audience by some reason and I saw them for the first time I really understood that it was -- all that time I thought it was about me. You know, am I handsome enough? I am singing in tune? Will they like this? Will they like that? Am I cute enough? Am I funny? That moment it flipped over when I saw who they were and how happy they were. It wasn't about me. It was like an epiphany. It wasn't about me. It's about them.




BASH: Over the past hour, you heard from the one and only Barry Manilow on what it's like to be him. I'll be bringing you more of these stories on future episodes of Being. I'm Dana Bash in New York, thank you so much for watching.