Originally recorded by Captain & Tennille (May 1975).
Hit versions by David Cassidy (UK #11 July 1975), Barry Manilow (US #1 Oct 1975).
Also recorded by Bruce Johnston, composer (1977).
No. Barry Manilow did not ‘write the songs’. ‘I Write the Songs’ was written by Bruce Johnston, of the The Beach Boys, in 1975.
From the wiki: “The original version was recorded by Captain & Tennille, both of whom worked with Johnston in the early 1970s with The Beach Boys. The song appears on their 1975 debut album, Love Will Keep Us Together, but was never released as a single. (Daryl ‘Captain’ Dragon is quoted as saying the pair wanted to release ‘I Write the Songs’ as their debut single but, instead, opted for ‘Love Will Keep Us Together‘.)
“The first single release of ‘I Write the Songs’ was by then-teen-idol David Cassidy from his 1975 solo album The Higher They Climb. Cassidy’s single was also produced by Bruce Johnston. It reached #11 on the UK Singles chart in August of that year.
“Barry Manilow was initially reluctant to record the song, stating in his autobiography Sweet Life: ‘The problem with the song was that if you didn’t listen carefully to the lyric, you would think that the singer was singing about himself. It could be misinterpreted as a monumental ego trip.’
“After persuasion by Clive Davis, then-president of Arista Records, Manilow recorded the song, and his recording was the first single taken from the album Tryin’ to Get the Feeling. It first charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in November, 1975, reaching the top of the chart nine weeks later, on January 17, 1976.
“Johnston, has stated that, for him, the ‘I’ in the song is ‘God’ and that songs come from the spirit of creativity in all of us. He has said that the song is not about his Beach Boys bandmate, Brian Wilson.
“After his version reached #1, Manilow himself composed a novelty song based on this song which he recorded under the title ‘I really do write the songs’ in which he sings about how he composes each part of a song and the line ‘sometimes I really do write the songs’ at the end of each verse. In the finale he sings, ‘sometimes…ah, what the hell…I write the songs.’ Unreleased at the time, it was included as a bonus track on the reissue of his album This One’s for You in 2006.”
David Cassidy, “I Write the Songs” (1975):
Barry Manilow, “I Write the Songs” (1976):
Bruce Johnston (composer), “I Write the Songs” (1977):
Barry Manilow, “I Really Do Write the Songs” parody song (released 2006):