8 Songs You Didn’t Know Barry Manilow Wrote for Other Artists

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Everything began with his first No. 1 hit, “Mandy,” in 1974 and snowballed from there with “Copacabana,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “I Write the Songs,” and “Could It Be Magic.”

In a career spanning nearly 60 years and 31 albums, Barry Manilow has written, produced, arranged, and composed more than 50 Top 40 hits, including 13 No. 1 singles, and has picked up a Grammy, a Tony, and Emmys along the way. Manilow was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.

Born on June 17, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York, Manilow studied musical theater at Julliard Performing Arts School and began arranging music for theater and writing and singing jingles—including ones for State Farm Insurance (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”) and the famous Band-Aid kiddie jingle “I am stuck on Band-Aid, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”

Manilow called his jingle-writing days “the best music college I could ever imagine.” He added, “What I learned most of all in my jingle days was how to write a catchy melody.”

In 1967, Manilow became the musical director for the WCBS-TV series Callback, and later arranged a new theme song for The Ed Sullivan Show.

A bonafide hitmaker, and songwriter—penning more than 400 songs throughout his career—Manilow also wrote and produced songs for a number of different artists since the early ’70s.

Here’s a look at eight more under-the-radar songs Manilow penned for other artists.

1. “Sweet Life,” Punch (1972)
Written by Barry Manilow

The ABBA-like quartet consisting of two men and two women—Steve Adler, Charles Merriam, Kathy Ward, and the fourth member known only as Dee—were only together from 1970 through 1973 and released one album and several singles, including Barry Manilow’s softer rock ballad “Sweet Life.”

Manilow would later record “Sweet Life” and release it as the closing track off his 1973 self-titled debut.

Mama can you hear me 
Mama can you hear me 
I’m going to be a farmer 
Blowing the fields in the morning sun 
I’ll have a million horses 
Take me a ride when the work is done 
I’m going to have a sweet life 
Sweetest life you ever seen 
And when the day is over 
Going to go to sleep in the field of green

2. “Never Gonna Let You Get Away,” Lady Flash (1976)
Written by Barry Manilow

Lady Flash was a trio of backup singers comprised of Monica Pege, Reparata Mazzola, and Debra Byrd, who worked with Barry Manilow from 1974 through 1979. In 1976, the trio released their only album, Beauties in the Night, which was produced by Manilow, who also wrote the R&B ballad “Never Gonna Let You Get Away.”

Dionne Warwick later covered the song solo and as a duet with Manilow while recording her 1979 album, Dionne (also produced by Manilow)—both versions never made the cut. Warwick later released her earlier (solo) version of “Never Gonna Let You Get Away” on an album of previously unreleased songs, The 80s, in 2015 and the duet with Manilow as a single in 2018.

All my life I’ve had this dream
Someone like you would come along
Thru the darkness and the fears
You would be there and I was strong
And now you’re here
And now I’m home
And now I’m
Never gonna let you get away
We’ll be fine
See how dreams can come true
I’m never gonna let you get away
Not this time
I won’t stop loving you

Where are Lady Flash Now?
Monica Pege jumped into acting as well as musical collaborations with Jermaine Jackson, Michael Wycoff, and Gwen McCrae and joined Manilow for a string of shows in Las Vegas from 2004 to 2010.

Reparata Mazzola, who was part of the 1960s girl group Reparata and the Delrons before working with Manilow, works as a screenwriter.

Byrd also toured and recorded with Bob Dylan on several occasions, including providing backing vocals on his 1986 song “Band of the Hand,” which also featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Stevie Nicks. Byrd later went on to work as a vocal coach for contestants on American Idol for 11 years before moving on to The Voice and is the vocal chair for the Musicians Institute.

3. “Good News,” Melissa Manchester (1976)
Written by Barry Manilow and Melissa Manchester

Melissa Manchester went to New York University to study songwriting, along with her schoolmate Paul Simon. She started performing in the New York City club scene in the 1970s, eventually joining the Harlettes, backup singers for Bette Midler, and released her debut album Home to Myself in 1973. Her fourth album, Better Days and Happy Endings, features one track she and Manilow co-wrote: “Good News.”

The song was later covered by Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary. Manchester later covered Carole King’s Tapestry hit “You’ve Got a Friend” as a duet with Manilow on his 2007 album, The Greatest Songs of the Seventies. Manilow later released his own version of “Good News” as a bonus track on the 2006 expanded edition of his second album, Barry Manilow II.

I was looking out the window just this morning
Wasn’t finding inspiration in my bed
I was wondering if all this was a warning
‘Cause I’d rather waste the day than work instead

It’s been quite a while since I could feel my heart beat
I appreciate you offering me yours
But I got to use my own and let it guide me
It’s the only thing to get me home for sure

Let’s hear some good news for the lady
She’s coming out from far behind
And if she seems a little slow
It only goes to show
That everything will grow in its own time

4. “In Your Eyes,” Dionne Warwick (1979)
Written by Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman, and Jack Feldman

Barry Manilow and Dionne Warwick‘s friendship and collaborations date back to the ’70s. When Warwick was ready to record her album Dionne, which included her hit “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” Manilow was brought in to produce it. He also co-wrote two tracks on the album, including closing “All the Time” with Mary Panzer and “In Your Eyes” with his regular collaborators Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman.

“People warned me that Dionne might be difficult to work with and that was the farthest thing from what happened,” said Manilow. “We had a ball making that record. It was a party every afternoon. It’s one of my favorite memories. She was in great voice that entire album, as you might be able to hear. On every song of that album she was hitting notes in her range that I didn’t know she had.”

You still know what to say
You still know what to do
You still know how to make me feel
There’s no one else but you

And you think that things
Adjust the way they used to be
But I can see

It in your eyes
I see that you wanna run away
And in your eyes
I don’t see the kind of love you say

Warwick and Manilow continued to collaborate throughout the years, with Manilow also producing a song on Warwick’s 1985 album, Friends, and co-writing the track “Bedroom Eyes,” off her album Finder of Lost Loves, released in the same year.

5. “Stay,” Ray, Goodman & Brown (1981)
Written by Barry Manilow, James Jolis, Kevin Simone

Barry Manilow recorded and released his song “Stay” on his ninth album, Here Comes the Night, in 1982, but the song was first given to the R&B trio of Ray, Goodman & Brown to record. The trio had a string of hits in the ’70s, including “Sexy Mama,” “Look at Me (I’m in Love),” “Love on a Two-Way Street,” and “Special Lady.”

Do you remember how we used to be?
Before we lost the dream of you and me?
From the very start you took my breath away
So tonight lets bring back yesterda
y

Darlin’ Stay.
Why don’t you be with me tonight
Stay
We can make love till the morning light
Baby Stay
I can make everything all right
Just tell me what to say ’cause I really don’t want you to go

6. “Perfect Isn’t Easy,” Bette Midler (1988)
Written by Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman, and Jack Feldman

As posh dog Georgette gets her introduction in the 1988 Disney animated film Oliver & Company—loosely based on the 1838 Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist—she’s singing her ego-centered “Perfect Isn’t Easy,” as she primps herself in the mirror and shows off all her fancy belongings.

Performed by Bette Midler for the film, “Perfect Isn’t Easy” is the sole track on the soundtrack written by Manilow. Billy Joel and Huey Lewis also appear on the soundtrack.

Girl, we’ve got work to do
Pass me the paint and glue

Perfect isn’t easy but it’s me
When one knows the world is watching
One does what one must

Some minor adjustments darling
Not for my vanity but for humanity
Each little step a pose

See, how the breeding shows
Sometimes, it’s too much for even me
When all of the world says yes

7. “Marry the Mole,” Carol Channing (1994)
Written by Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman, and Jack Feldman

In her role as Ms. Fieldmous, late performer Carol Channing (1921-2019) sings the humorous tune of “Marry the Mole” in the 1994 animated film Thumbelina. It’s one of 19 songs written and composed by Manilow, along with lyricist Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, for the soundtrack to the film. The three previously worked on the Bette Midler-performed “Perfect Isn’t Easy” (see above) for the animated Oliver & Company several years earlier.

Manilow would also compose music for the Bluth-helmed The Pebble and the Penguin, starring the voices of Martin Short, Jim Belushi, and Tim Curry, in 1995.

Here comes the bride is a lovely little ditty
But marrying for love is a foolish thing to do
‘Cause love won’t pay the mortgage or put porridge in your bowl
Dearie, marry the mole

True, it’s a fact that he’s not exactly witty
He’s blinder than a bat but at least his eyes are blue
His breath may be alarming but he’s charming, for a troll
Dearie, marry the mole

8. “Meet Me, Midnight,” Diane Schuur (2003)
Written by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman

In 2003, Grammy-winning jazz singer and pianist Diane Schuur released Midnight, an album of songs written entirely by Manilow and a handful of co-writers. “Meet Me, Midnight” was the only track co-written by his longtime collaborator Bruce Sussman, who also helped write Manilow’s 1978 hit “Copacabana.”

Meet me midnight, thats when things get nice
My place midnight don’t forget the ice
Don’t look for me in the light of the day
I wait till midnight to come out and play
Meet me midnight, oh thats my paradise
Meet me Midnight, oh baby you can be my guest
Just make it midnight oh you fill in the rest
Some rise at sunrise and think it’s a wow
Thats very nice if your milking a cow
Not me, Midnight thats when it’s the best

Photo: Legacy Recordings

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