Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Ohhhhh Mandy

In 1975 a virtually unknown singer/songwriter/composer from the Bronyx burst on to the music scene. His first number one hit was played over and over again, by a sixteen year old girl from the country, on a record player so large it was a piece of furniture itself. She and her younger sisters would dance around the living room to the smooth sound of the artist's voice. That sixteen year old swore if she ever had a daughter, she would be named after that very song. Five years later I made my grand entrance into the world and was given the name Mandy. Not Amanda (like so many other baby girls born in the late 70's/early 80's), just Mandy. Had it not been for a Jewish man from New York, I'd now be known as Heather or Heidi or some equally autrocious name (no offense to any Heather's or Heidi's out there) that when combined with my last name would be an alliterative nightmare.



I've grown up listening to Barry Manilow's music, I am sure I absorbed it in utero and I own almost his entire collection (some of it in the form of vintage vinyl that belonged to my mom as a teenager). My grandmother has always thought concerts are a frivolous waste of money so my mom and I experienced our first Manilow concert together when I was probably 12 or 13 years old. Over the years, its been our thing to go see his show any time its with in a few hours of home. The shows have ranged from big Vegas show style productions; shows with a full orchestra elevated on risers on stage; to shows with just him, a piano, and a small band backing him up. I've heard him sing his hits, covers, and new pieces that have never been released on an album. I've never left a concert without feeling completely fulfilled in a way that only seeing live music can fulfill you. While Barry Manilow is really an amazing composer, arranger, and singer, at his core he is an entertainer.

These days Barry Manilow has a long running show in Las Vegas and rarely tours. Occasionally when he as a few week break from the Vegas act, he takes the show on the road for one night arena shows. On Monday, his Ultimate Manilow show came to Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena. My mom and I have had tickets for months, purchasing them the day the became available. The show was as always fantastic. I lost my voice singing along too loudly to classics such as "Copacabana" and "I Write the Songs." I soulfully clutched my glowstick as a microphone while singing "Ships in the Night." When the first few bars of "Mandy" wafted through the arena, my mom leaned over and whispered "this is your song!" Hearing his music, the way he plays and interprets it never gets old. From the first strains of the overture to the final note of the last encore (and there are usually many) Manilow's shows are always an incredible experience.

One of the most amazing things about his show isn't anything to do with the show itself but rather the audience. Women who range in age from somewhere in their 80's to little kids. At the show on Monday I saw generations of women from the same family. Groups of women around the same age all friends, perhaps sisters. A group of college aged women wearing homemade shirts that spelled out MANILOW. Sure there were a handfull of men too. But all around us my mom and I were surrounded by mothers and daughters who like ourselves have seen multiple shows, have many fond memories, know all the words to just about all of his songs, and yet still keep coming back for more. I love the fact that my mom and I both have a deep admiration for this man and his music. It really is something she's passed on to me, not just in the form of my name.


* Yes, those glowsticks were from the show on Monday night.

** No the FANILOW license plate is not mine, but you bet I came home and looked it up online to see if it was available in OH. Its not.

*** I may or may not have ordered a couple of the Manilow license plate holders. Or four so my mom could have a set too.

**** Don't judge me, after all the man did give me my name.

21 comments:

Andy said...

I LOVE the Manilow version, but I heard this song from the Westlife version.

My mom and I have gone to LOTS of concerts, because lots of my music is also her music and lots of her music (almost all) is my music.

Katie said...

There's nothing like going to a concert for someone you adore.

I love this post. I'll have to write a post about my days as a hard-core U2 fangirl sometime. But I'm nowhere near as dedicated as you.

I miss those days.

Redhoon said...

Hooray! What a fun time! This blog post made my morning. :) Sounds like a great experience. If I ever make it out to Vegas, I'll have to see if Barry Manilow is playing.

Kyla Roma said...

No! I SO want that license plate to be yours!! =)

I'm glad you had fun- I was raised listening to Neil Young and Paul Simon, and I know I've freaked out when I seen Neil live. It takes you to a whole other place!

LBluca77 said...

I too LOVE LOVE Barry Manilow and want to be a fanilow. That reminds me of the Will and Grace episode when Will was a fanilow and even had a fan website.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

I've never personally been so obsessed with any particular musician. But, I know some people who drool over Barry. I don't know what it is about him, but as you said, women of all ages love the guy! Glad you had fun at the concert!

Ashley said...

It's an awesome thing to be a hardcore fan of someone, but it makes it all the better when the other fans are amazing too. Makes me kind of jealous of you Fanilows.

nory said...

aw, Mandy. that's an awesome story as to how you got your name! And that you and your mom go to things like this together =) Glad you had a great time. You certainly deserve it!

Little Fish said...

Oh Mandy, you came and you gave without taking. Impresive!

See how much Barry and I have in common, two NY Jews who impact and influence so many others ;-)

You should name your next pet (since you don't want babies) Lola.

amanda said...

hahaha. i love you!

i saw barry in concert, and what a show. my friend and i had TERRIBLE seats, and ended up getting chosen for a third row upgrade! coolest thing ever.

i begged and pleaded that i'd get called up on stage-but i didn't.

i like that we're name twins, ps. even though you're an official mandy, and i'm an amanda that just gets called mandy.

amanda said...

and ohhh...i love the glow stick!

Bayjb said...

I do like Copacabana and Mandy. I really loved that latter song until I heard it was about his dog. Now I can't listen to it the same way.

Auburn Kat said...

Seriously, I loved that post and the story about your name! What a great thing for you and your mother to do together...that makes me miss my mom!

alexa - cleveland's a plum said...

HAHAH! this is fabulous i would have never known all of this, i love it.

i'm kind of like this to an extent with neil diamond.

no judging from you either... haha

Swishy said...

I totally was going to ask if the Fanilow was yours! Ha!

MelRox said...

I like Barry too much....I am so glad to had fun in the concert! rock on, chic!

AntonucciFamily said...

I'm glad you had such a great time! Hope you and your mom get many more chances to enjoy Barry in concert together!

Fritz said...

i love it!!! did you put the glow sticks in the freezer to try and preserve the glow?

looking4#3 said...

The Heather/Heidi name with your last name CRACKED me up!!!! Thank you for a great morning laugh.

AWESOME you had a great time at the concert. Even better that this is something Big T passed on to you that you both share a passion for.

I would LOVE to see him in concert. Must have been amazing.

closetsareforclothes said...

fanilow...i love it!

Kim said...

You know I'm with you on this one. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Barry!!! :)