Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Barry Manilow


First performed and recorded by Elaine Paige (UK #6 1981).
Similar to “Bolero in Blue” by Larry Clinton (1940).
Other hit versions by Barbra Streisand (US #52/MOR #9/UK #34 1982), Barry Manilow (US #39/MOR #8 1982), Elaine Paige rerecording (UK #36 1998).

From the wiki: “‘Memory’, often incorrectly called ‘Memories’, is a show tune from the 1981 musical Cats. Its writers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cats director Trevor Nunn, received the 1981 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. (Prior to its inclusion in Cats, the tune was earmarked for earlier Lloyd Webber projects, including a ballad for Perón in Evita, and as a song for Max in his original 1970s draft of Sunset Boulevard.)

“The lyric was based on T. S. Eliot’s poems ‘Preludes’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’. Composer Lloyd Webber feared that the tune sounded too similar to Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ and to a work by Puccini, and also that the opening – the haunting main theme – closely resembled the flute solo (improvised by Bud Shank in the studio) from The Mamas & the Papas’ 1965 song ‘California Dreamin””.

“Lloyd-Webber asked his father’s opinion; according to him, his father responded ‘It sounds like a million dollars!’ While Lloyd Webber does acknowledge Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, there is no mention of similarity to ‘Bolero in Blue’ written by Larry Clinton, replicating note-for-note the first several measures from Clinton’s composition.

Somewhere in the Night

First single release by Yvonne Elliman (US August 1975).
Also recorded by Richard Kerr (UK August 1975), Kim Carnes (1975).
Hit versions by Batdorf & Rodney (US #69 1975), Helen Reddy (US #19/MOR #2/CAN #27 1975) and Barry Manilow (US # 9/UK #42 1978).

From the wiki: “The first song composed by Richard Kerr and Will Jennings as a team, ‘Somewhere in the Night’ appeared on four 1975 album releases: You Are a Song by Batdorf & Rodney and Rising Sun by Yvonne Elliman both released in June 1975, No Way to Treat a Lady by Helen Reddy released July 1975, and Kim Carnes’ November 1975 eponymous album release. The Yvonne Elliman version was released as a US single in August 1975, which also saw the release of a ‘Somewhere in the Night’ single in the UK recorded by the song’s co-writer Richard Kerr.

The Old Songs

Written and first recorded by David Pomeranz (1980).
Hit version by Barry Manilow (US #15/MOR #1/UK #48 1981).

From the wiki: “David Pomeranz (‘Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again‘) wrote ‘The Old Songs’ in 1977 with Buddy Kaye, a Tin Pan Alley songwriter of great note in the ’40s and ’50s (‘The Alphabet Song’, ‘Speedy Gonzales‘), ‘timeless songs, big hits for him,’ according to Pomeranza. ‘He and I got together, we wrote 6 songs together at that time, and ‘The Old Songs’ was one of them. We had written it for Jennifer Warnes – she must have passed on it. I had recorded it on my Atlantic album, and Barry had heard my album, heard the song, and then decided that he would record it, too.'”

I Made It Through the Rain

Co-written and first recorded (as “Made It Thru The Rain”) by Gerard Kenny (1979).
Hit versions by Barry Manilow (US #10/UK #37 1980), John Barrowman (UK #14 2009).

From the wiki: “Gerald Kenny and Drey Shepperd penned the original version of the song, and Kenny released his recording of it, titled ‘Made It Thru the Rain’, in 1979. In 1980 (now credited to Gerald Kenny/Drey Shepperd/Bruce Sussman/Jack Feldman/Barry Manilow), it was the only hit in the US from Barry Manilow’s self-titled Barry album. The song enjoyed a revival in UK in 2009 when actor and TV host John Barrowman made the charts with a cover version taken from his album Music Music Music. The song’s chart success was due to the BBC Radio One breakfast host Chris Moyles, who asked his listeners to download a copy of the single to give the actor a hit.”


Written and first recorded by Ian Hunter (1979).
Hit version by Barry Manilow (US #9/MOR #4/CAN #29 1979).

From the wiki: “Ian Hunter (‘Once Bitten Twice Shy‘) began writing ‘Ships’ when he was with Mott The Hoople (1969-1974) but didn’t record it until 1979, for his solo album You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic. The song has been described as a hymn-like ballad about Hunter’s relationship with his father.

“‘Ships’ was soon after recorded by singer Barry Manilow for his sixth studio album, One Voice. Hunter recalled to Mojo magazine: ‘That whole Manilow thing was quite amusing. That guy’s no slouch when it comes to arranging. His dad had died and the song struck him that way, too.'”

Weekend in New England

Written and first recorded by Randy Edelman (1975).
Hit version by Barry Manilow (US #10/MOR #1/CAN #10 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Weekend in New England’ was written by Randy Edelman, and first recorded by Edelman for his 1975 album Farewell Fairbanks. Edelman attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music before heading to New York where he played piano in Broadway pit orchestras and where he recorded several solo albums of songs, some of which were covered by The Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, Jackie DeShannon (to whom he is married), and Barry Manilow. Edelman later moved to Los Angeles where he started television and film scoring (The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., MacGyver, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor).

I Write the Songs

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‘.)

Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again

First recorded by The Carpenters (1975) but not released until 1994.
Also recorded by David Pomeranz, composer (1975), Gene Pitney (1975).
Hit versions by Barry Manilow (US #10/MOR #1 1976), The Carpenters (UK #44 1994).

From the wiki: “‘Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again’ was written for The Carpenters by David Pomeranz, who also recorded his own version of it in 1975, for his 1976 album It’s In Everyone Of Us. The Carpenters’ version of ‘Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again’ was taped during the Horizon recording sessions in 1975, but was shelved for being ‘one too many ballads.’ Seven years after production wrapped on the song, Richard was looking for songs to include on Voice of the Heart – the first album released after Karen’s untimely death in 1983. According to Richard, the basic but uncompleted rhythm tracks were located but it was thought any recording of Karen’s vocal had been permanently lost. Even though the final production vocal intended for the release of the record had been recorded over and was gone, Richard did find a ‘work lead’ in its place – hidden away on a master tape that also contained the song ‘Only Yesterday’.


Written and originally recorded (as “Brandy”) by Scott English (US #91/UK #12 1971).
Other hit versions by Bunny Walters (NZ #4 1972), Barry Manilow (US #1/MOR #1/UK #11/CAN #1 1974).

From the wiki: “Under the title ‘Brandy’, the selection’s original title, the song charted in 1971 for Scott English, one of its co-writers (along with Richard Kerr, who would go on to later write ‘Somewhere in the Night‘ and ‘I’ll Never Love This Way Again‘), whose version of it reached #12 in the UK Singles Charts. It was also released in the United States, but barely made the Billboard Hot 100.

“The suggestion that the song is about a favorite dog is apparently an urban legend. English has said that a reporter called him early one morning asking who ‘Brandy’ was, and an irritated English made up the ‘dog’ story to get the reporter off his back.

Can’t Smile Without You

First recorded by David Martin (1975).
First released by The Carpenters (1976).
Also recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck (1976).
Hit version by Barry Manilow (US #3/MOR #1 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Can’t Smile Without You’ was written by David Martin, Christian Arnold and Geoff Morrow, and was first recorded by Martin in 1975. The Carpenters covered the song on their 1976 album A Kind of Hush, and it was featured as the B-side of their hit ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft’ the following year. Engelbert Humperdinck also recorded the song in 1976, using the same lyrics as the original Carpenters version, on his After the Lovin’ album.

“‘Can’t Smile Without You’ was the first single to be released from Barry Manilow’s 1978 album Even Now, reaching the #1 spot on Billboard’s MOR chart and the #3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.”

Read ‘Em and Weep

First recorded by Meat Loaf (1981).
Hit version by Barry Manilow (US #18/MOR #1 1983).

From the wiki: “‘Read ‘Em and Weep’ is a rock music song composed by Jim Steinman. Originally written for Meat Loaf and recorded for his 1981 album, Dead Ringer, it did not become a hit until late-1983, when a slightly rewritten cover version was recorded by Barry Manilow. The Manilow version reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.”

Could It Be Magic

First recorded by Featherbed feat. Barry Manilow (1971).
Based on “Prelude in C Minor” by Frederic Bach.
Hit versions by Barry Manilow (US #4/UK #25 1975), Donna Summer (US #52/Dance #3/UK #40 1976), Take That (UK #3 1992).

From the wiki: “‘Could It Be Magic’ was co-written by Barry Manilow and Tony Orlando (based on Chopin’s Prelude in C-Minor) and first recorded by Featherbed, a `ghost’ group consisting of session musicians led by the vocals of a very young Manilow. Manilow, in 1970, was unproven as a pop-song arranger and was therefore not permitted to arrange the original backing track himself upon the song’s first release in 1971. Instead, the original version of the song was produced under the hand of producer Tony Orlando.

“Manilow is said to have hated the Orlando arrangement so severely that he was appreciative of the fact that the song went absolutely nowhere on the music charts. Featuring a bubblegum pop beat, cowbells and a ‘Knock Three Times’ feel, the original lyrics have nothing in common with the subsequent 1973 hit version by Manilow (with its completely different meter and arrangement) although the chorus remained the same.