Stargayzing was recently quite disappointed by the legendary Barry Manilow, or at least his representative, in a perfect illustration of the old media/new media divide that runs like a fault line through our culture nowadays. Here’s what happened:
A few weeks back, I published a really lovely, borderline fawning, short piece about When The Meadow Was Bloomin‘, a song Barry co-wrote with Johnny Mercer in the 1970s, that respectfully highlighted what I think is one of the best pieces of music Mr. Manilow has ever written. I thought that Barry’s fans would appreciate it so I asked Garry Keif, Barry’s manager, who I knew very peripherally from my days in the music business, if he would retweet the piece (I knew Barry didn’t actually tweet himself). I felt it was a great way for Barry to promote one of his old songs without having to toot his own horn as I was doing the tooting for him. Classy and simple. Obviously, a by-product would be that more folks would find out about Stargayzing. A win-win, right?
Apparently not if you are a 20th century media type. I received the following email from Mr. Keif:
Thanks David…We use the twitter account on a very limited basis and not to promote other sites.SorryAll bestGarry
That’s it? I responded that I understood, which I do: I understood that Barry Manilow doesn’t really get the twitter culture half as well as say Larry King or Joan Rivers does. How interesting that they saw this as promoting Stargayzing and not promoting Barry. One might get the impression that the Manilow camp thinks millions of people across the land still gather around water coolers everywhere talking about the classic Johnny Mercer/Barry Manilow collaborations of 1976! Did Mr. Keif even read the piece?
It’s okay—I’m somewhat inured to rejection at this point and all things considered, this had to be considered a quite minor disappointment. In response, I did what any pseudo-Fanilow worth his salt would do when rebuffed by the maestro after asking for a (very) small favor (as Mr. Keif might see it), or offering to help (as I see it): I quickly remembered Ray Stevens’ I Need Your Help Barry Manilow, a minor novelty record from 1979 that poked good natured fun (or is it homage?) at the famous Manilow production sound. The song was released at the zenith of Barry’s post-Even Now/One Voice one-two punch, but is today as forgotten today as what Barry himself did after the post-Even Now/One Voice one-two punch; until now.
The fact that I intuitively suspect humorless Barry never cared much for Stevens’ parody/homage, makes the notion of taking it out of mothballs and dusting it off just a little more sweet. Of course, none of this changes how I feel about the maestro. If he called me up and invited me to dinner to say, “I’m sorry my team blew you off after you wrote that beautiful piece about me,” I would accept his apology, knowing as I do that there is indeed a very high probability that the old songs will bring back the old times. Then I would tell him about January, 26, 1976, the day I portrayed special guest star Barry Manilow in a production of The Carol Burnett Show that I mounted in Bridget Sullivan’s basement with Ruth Shladovsky, Elayne Glick, and Todd Freneaux. But that’s a story for another day. In the meanwhile, let’s celebrate the 37th anniversary of my still-memorable portrayal of Barry Manilow and how his management dissed me two weeks ago by enjoying Ray Stevens’ I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow!
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