Song: “I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow
Reached #1: January 17, 1976 (his second, 1 week)
Barry Manilow is one of America’s most popular singer/songwriters. He’s written musicals, scored films, produced music for other artists, and even done commercial jingles. He even co-wrote a version of the American Bandstand theme (note for those younger than a certain age: Bandstand was the most popular way to see pop artists perform from the ‘50s until MTV – but don’t take my word for it, Google it).
So, of course, “I Write The Songs” is an autobiographical tune, right?
You see, one-time Beach Boy Bruce Johnston wrote “I Write The Songs” – and he says the “I” in the title is actually God (or, alternately, “the spirit of creativity in all of us”, according to the always-accurate Wikipedia).
So there you go. Barry Manilow writes a lot of songs, but not “I Write The Songs”.
Oh, and it’s actually a cover. The Captain and Tennille did it first (which makes sense, since “Captain” Daryl Dragon was a part of the Beach Boys’ circle in the mid-70’s). David Cassidy did a version which was a mid-level UK hit.
And all kidding aside, Manilow realized the self-parody potential of the song, and had to be talked into recording what became one of his signature songs… 36 years later, and it’s either this one or “Mandy” (another one he didn’t write… which went #1 364 days before “I Write The Songs”… and which was originally “Brandy” until Manilow tweaked it to avoid confusion with the Looking Glass’ “(Brandy) You’re A Fine Girl”).
I wonder if the millions of karaoke singers who’ve drunkenly mangled this song over the years know all this…
Tomorrow, a movie soundtrack song written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager – but that’s not the version you know. You know the fund-raiser cover version…
Other songs that reached #1 on January 17:
1987 – “Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott (his first, 1 week)
1998 – “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden (their first, 2 weeks)
2009 – “Just Dance” by Lady GaGa featuring Colby O’Donis (Lady GaGa’s first, 3 weeks)