People who know me well know that I have a soft spot for Barry Manilow. I may or may not own his Greatest Hits album. I may or may not know every word by heart and belt the chorus of “Looks Like We Made it” when no one else is around to hear me. So it is with great joy that I bring your attention to this week’s feature essay on The Avid Listener by Travis Stimeling: “The Popular Songwriter.” Ok, the essay is not all about Barry Manilow. But check out this masterful opening paragraph:
“In November 1975, Barry Manilow hit the top of the Billboard ‘Top 40’ chart with ‘I Write the Songs.‘ Singing from the perspective of Music itself, the song’s protagonist ‘write[s] the songs that make the whole world sing.’ Although that line has made headline writers happy for the past four decades, it has also come to represent Manilow’s professional career as a songwriter. During the 1960s and 1970s, Manilow composed some of the most singable music imaginable: commercial jingles. Among his best-known compositions—including songs such as ‘Copacabana‘ and ‘Mandy‘—is State Farm Insurance’s memorable ‘Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there‘ jingle. Although Manilow’s career as a recording artist was over by the early 1980s, his songs continue to ‘make the whole world sing,’ if only for seconds at a time.”
Even if you are not a fan of Barry Manilow (don’t worry, we can still be friends), you will enjoy this discussion of what songwriters do in the music industry. Read the entire essay here. And don’t mind me as I sing my way through the essay.
As always, we invite you to leave a comment and stay for the discussion.
Next week: Travis Stimeling on “Hearing Place in Music”