By Tim Hayes

One of the fatherly pearls of wisdom I’ve tried to pass on to my kids goes something like this: You know you’re an adult when you no longer permit what other people think to bother you.

So in that same spirit, I’ve decided it’s high time to reveal something I’ve not exactly hidden, but have not had the guts to just come out and say.  Here goes.

I really like Barry Manilow records.

There, it’s finally out on the table.  The air has at long last been cleared.  The secret no longer must be carried around like a bundle of shame strapped to my back.

And why should that be a source of shame, anyway?  Barry Manilow records have provided the soundtrack to some of the happiest times of my life.  Back in high school, we all liked those records.  I can remember long bus rides during marching band trips to Florida and other far-flung places, with scads of us belting out those songs at 70 miles an hour.  In college, when I met the girl who would become my wife, she had a Barry Manilow album that we played constantly as we fell in love.

So, yeah, I liked Barry Manilow records.  Still do.  As I tool around in my car going to and from client meetings and other appointments, they’re still being played and sung along to.  Solo, of course.  That’s when everybody sounds best in the car – when no one else can hear you.  The looks from other drivers alongside me at red lights as I’m warbling along with “Looks Like We Made It” or “Weekend In New England” are priceless.  I just smile and wave, then get back to my vocals.

Plus, my offspring have not been blessed with a dominant Manilow gene, and will proffer no Barry in the car with me.  So I go it alone, and am very happy doing so.

Every time he’s come to Pittsburgh, my wife and I have attended his concerts.  The guy still sells out big arenas, so obviously we’re not alone.  His more recent CDs always sell very well, too.  He puts on a great live show, combining old fashioned showmanship with truly great musicianship.  For a guy who started life as Barry Pinkus from Brooklyn, eventually getting into show business as the piano player for Bette Midler as she performed at New York bath houses in the early 1970s, he’s done pretty well for himself.

And why?  How?  There’s one simple theory that I kind of like.  At one concert many years ago, the opening act was just about finished with his set.  As he began getting the crowd whipped up for the main event, he said something like, “I know why people like Barry Manilow – he actually sings real songs!”  Never heard any rappin’ during “Mandy,” after all.

He’s not afraid of some self-deprecation, either.  He was quoted some years ago as saying, “My songs are like anchovies. Some people love them, some people get nauseous.”

Thirty years from now, my grandchildren will be rolling their eyes as my kids wax nostalgic about Lady Gaga and Maroon 5, just as I do about Perry Como and Bobby Vinton with my folks.  That’s okay.  To each his own.  Musical tastes will always change and evolve with the generations.

So, all you fellow “Fanilows” (Manilow fans, for the uninitiated) out there, I urge you to stand up and be recognized!  Our guy may be getting a little long in the tooth, but hey, so are we.  He’s made some pretty good music that’s played a part in our lives, so why be shy about it?  Who cares what anybody else thinks.

“All the time, all the wasted time.  All the years, waiting for a sign.  To think I had it all, all the time.”  Yeah, I like Barry Manilow records.  What about it?

Copyright 2012 Tim Hayes Consulting