The first album that I can remember changing my life was the “Barry Manilow Live” album.
The first musical artist that impressed me was Ken Medema. For those of you who don’t know who that is, you need to click on this link and find out! I heard Ken Medema at a concert that my parents dragged me kicking and screaming to go to. My Mom was secretary at our church and she had met and was very impressed by him while at work.
Our church had been doing a lot of Pop Christian music that even before I cared much about music at all I found to be rather superficial. So I wasn’t too keen on going to hear another Pop Christian music concert. But, Ken Medema was different. He was a solo performer, singer-pianist song writer and the real deal at that. His music has a definite style, but the sincerity with which he played and sang really caught my attention. But, I didn’t know about an album that he had done at that time.
However, that got me thinking about music, because his performance touched me in a very special way. It was then that music became a light for me and I’ve never lost that guiding star in my life, even if I have yet to find a way to redirect my musicianship.
I started thinking about playing the piano, singing and writing songs.
I learned that Barry Manilow was going to be playing a concert at Diddle Arena and so I bought a ticket and went. It was packed! I don’t know how many aspiring musicians were in attendance that night but I went to see what doing a concert would be like. I had never been to a big one like that before.
Well, Barry Manilow is a great performer even if he is a bit cheesy and he can play a mean piano. His show was completely professional and he had an amazing ability to connect with the audience.
Shortly thereafter he released his solo Live album and of course I bought it, along with the book of music. The first song I worked on was “I write the songs”, which Barry Manilow didn’t ironically didn’t write, but he made it a hit single. Plus, I started trying to sing it. I’m not even sure how old I was at the time, but I found it to be rather difficult to sing all of his songs, as great as they were.
I of course basically did all of my musical self training after everyone else in the house went to bed. But, it taught me a lot about music.
There are some really great performances on that album and you get a real feel for the excitement of a live performance on it.
My favorite songs from this album are obviously “I write the songs”, “Could it Be Magic”, “Mandy”, “Weekend in New England” and “New York City Rhythm” which I actually got to perform live myself with a complete Jazz Band and backup singers at a Miss Western Kentucky University Pageant back when I was in college. It is a great song and a great arrangement to perform. I still don’t know why it wasn’t a bigger hit.
So that is Album #1, chronologically, for me. Barry Manilow’s “Live” Album.