In 1978, at the height of his fame, Barry Manilow released a two-record collection of Greatest Hits. In the liner notes for the album, Clive Davis, then president of Barry's label Arista Records, proclaims that Barry is "synonymous with music itself." But "more important than his now historic sales achievements is his uncanny ability to reach the average person in a way to meaningfully affect that person's life. That," he concludes, "is artistry."
My mother was one of the millions whose life was lit by the Manilow glow. I have a hazy memory of the dreaminess and almost drug-like bliss Barry's music and telegenic persona used to inspire in her. Eager to get to the bottom of this mystique, I thought that I should dust off the long-shelved subject of Barry Manilow to see what kind of psychological insight into the superstar/fan dynamic I might be able to uncover. What follows is a Q&A session with my mother (conducted via email) about her relationship with the man who "wrote the songs that made the whole world sing" in 1978. -JP
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