His achievements are stellar. In 1978 he had 5 albums in the best-seller charts simultaneously, which puts him in the same bracket as Frank Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Mathis. In 1970 Frank Sinatra famously said of Barry “He’s next.” His Las Vegas show was sold out for 5 years. Add to this numerous top ten hits, platinum albums and goodness knows what else. To the best of my knowledge he still holds the record for the fastest sell out for a show on Broadway, I think it sold out in 18 minutes. Yet I’m talking about something much deeper and more profound than his music.
What is it about Barry Manilow that breeds such loyalty down the years and that this fan could consider to be bigger and more important than all that? The answer would be Barry Manilow.
You see this man doesn’t just stand on a stage and perform, he cares about people. I haven’t been to a concert he’s given when he hasn’t offered words of advice and encouragement to his audience.
He’s always reminding people that anyone can make it if they have the courage and determination. “God Bless the Other 99″ is a musical reminder that the success in life isn’t always the person who is the most talented, it’s the person who hears the word “No” 99 times and goes back again.
He encourages his audience to identify their dreams and follow them, drawing on his own experience. And sometimes, well just once, he can really get to you in a way that makes you momentarily unsure whether to kiss him or hit him, I’ve made up my mind now and I would never hit him! But it took a few years.
I can tell that you’re shocked on my behalf! “What did he do?” you’re asking yourself. Well I will tell you.
The first concert I ever went to was at Wembley in London in the 1980′s. Princess Margaret was there and between Barry’s charisma and her diamond earrings I was dazzled all evening.
Part way through the evening he sat down at his piano and started to play, then he stopped and sat back. For a moment he was reflective, then he took his microphone off the stand, stood up and came to the front of the stage, and he said something like this (and forgive me Barryif it isn’t spot on but this is my recollection thirty years later).
“A few years ago I was having a really bad time. I’d thought I was a multi-millionnaire but I discovered that I had been defrauded and only had $10,000 dollars to my name. It was a real blow and I became very low. I talked to all my friends over and over again, until one day one of them said something to me that has stayed with me ever since. For some reason, tonight, I feel that I should repeat what he said because if there’s one person in this audience who needs to hear it, it will change their life. My friend said:”
“I believe that we are who we choose to be.
Nobody is going to come and save you. You’ve got to save yourself.
Nobody is going to give you anything. You’ve got to go out and fight for it.
Nobody knows what you want except you,
and nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t get it.
So don’t give up your dreams.”
(This can now also be found in his autobiography ” Barry Manilow, Sweet Life: Adventures on the way to Paradise)
I sat there feeling as if someone had just dropped a bomb into my lap. I had dreamed for years that my first husband would finally have the affair he’d been threatening me with and would leave, then I, the wounded party would get loads of sympathy and be freed with a clear conscience. The trouble is he wouldn’t; even though he constantly reminded me how much fatter, bustier and uglier I was than all the other lovely young women at work, and I wasn’t as nice either! I couldn’t see another way out. (Give me a break here, it was 30 years ago and emotionally I was broken.)
When I heard those words I really wasn’t sure that if I could get to him I wouldn’t throttle him. In a few brief paragraphs he had put the entire responsibility for my life firmly into my own lap. I was so frightened, and yet… and yet… I felt absolute joy. It was such a mixed bag of feelings that I didn’t know what to do with myself and the rest of the concert was a blur. All I knew was that my life had changed and I had himto thank for it.
I immediately went for help, and it took me 6 years to undo the complete destruction of the very young girl I’d been when I met my ex, and put together a strong and confident woman who had the courage to walk out. I also had to build up my financial status because I needed to buy my own home and I was in a dead-end underpaid dull job. Plus there was no way he was having MY cats so I needed to keep them safe too.
I waited those 6 years feeling better and better everyday. It was a fight at times to hang onto my strength but I did it, and I got a good job (in fact I out-earned him), I filed for divorce and I kept my cats. And to this day I thank God that He created Barry Manilow.
I know that a few of you will be giggling and muttering about your opinions of the man, his music and talent, but I have two things to say to that, if you are you’re missing the point and I’m afraid his track record doesn’t support your mutterings.
However, that man changed my life and he did so because he doesn’t always focus on himself and his music he thinks about the people that made him famous and support his work and he tries to give something back. I feel as if my unwavering support has been paid back a thousand-fold.
Why though have I focussed this article that way? Because, somewhat unkindly, people suggest that he isn’t good looking enough, etc., to be who he is, which is horribly unkind and unnecessary. Yet many people suffer from the same unkindness in life, as did I.
What you need to remember that he is who he is because of… well… who he is. You may not think you’re slim enough, pretty enough, cleverer enough or whatever form your current lack of confidence is taking, but inside you’re everything you need to be, just as he is. And you can let that out if you just stop believing what other people tell you.
Barry’s been hurt many times in his life, he wasn’t born into riches, he had to work hard for his first break and then he got knocked back in the cruellest possible way, but he never ever gave up. As he says himself “You can give in, you can give out, but you don’t give up!”
Finally there’s his charisma, which is stupendous. The glow that comes from him transcends looks, age and talent. You can be in amongst 30,000 people and still feel as if he’s talking only to you. This glow is within all of us, as he will tell you, and each one of us can let that light shine forth if only we will work out what we really want to do in our lives and then go for it without fear or excuses.
He is a human being, a very charismatic and talented human being but that’s because he chose to be that person and he keeps on being that person. As you can.
I’ll leave you with one final thought, which is often attributed to Nelson Mandela but in fact comes from Marianne Williamson’s book “A Course in Miracles.”
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I’m sure that many people will benefit from the words and attitudes expressed by people such as this. Particularly my everlasting, undeniable favourite – Barry Manilow! In some ways I owe him my life!
If you’re into cosmic ordering or the Law of Attraction this should also tell you that if the Universe wants to get a message to you – it will!
Deb Hawken – Personal Change Manager