Barry Manilow is a very nice man, and he doesnt seem to have too much of a problem with people using profanity (as youll find out later), but theres one word he finds really, really offensive.
Dont say that word! he mock-admonished, as he spoke on the phone recently from his home in Palm Springs, Calif. I dont tour anymore!
At age 69, the longtime hit-maker prefers to do weekend shows nowadays and then go back home.
Hell make one of those weekend appearances on Friday in Raleigh, at PNC Arena.
There, hell re-create the magic of Manilow on Broadway, a recent 27-date engagement at St. James Theatre in New York that grossed $4.2 million.
The sales figures were so big, and the demand so great, the show had to be extended for two weeks, according to Variety.
It was five shows a week, Manilow says. That kicked my butt!
Still, he calls it one of the great experiences of my career.
Manilow devotees who catch the Mandy man at PNC can expect pretty much the same show that thrilled New York audiences, and yes, even critics. Fans are going to get two hours of the hits.
And, of course, they wouldnt have it any other way.
I know thats what they want, Manilow says, adding that hes more than happy to give it to them.
They put up with me doing an album cut, and theyre very polite, he says with a laugh.
And then I do Ready to Take a Chance Again, and the roof caves in.
If he forgets to do one particular song, hell be in big trouble, and he knows it.
The one I would get killed for, if I didnt do it, is Copacabana, he says, probably to no ones surprise. (His personal favorite is Could It Be Magic.)
Unbelievably, though, it surprised Manilow when the song blew up in 1978. One reason is because the usually golden-eared label honcho Clive Davis (then with Arista Records) didnt like the song.
He didnt want to release it, Manilow admits.
But Manilow got it right away.
That is a pretty damn great lyric, he marvels. I dont know of a song that tells a story, in three verses, and a repeated chorus.
Manilows spirit of giving doesnt just end where his listening public is concerned.
In 2008, he formed The Manilow Music Project to provide musical instruments to high schools and middle schools, as well as making music scholarships available at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
A lot of schools are either cutting music classes which is killing me or if they do have music classes, theyre running out of instruments, or the instruments they have are in just terrible shape, he laments.
In Wake County, his organization is promoting a pre-show instrument drive. Anyone who donates a new or gently used musical instrument at PNC Arena through Friday will get two free Manilow tickets.
The drop-off location is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
I kick it off by donating a (Yamaha) piano, and I hope that the public will bring some of their used instruments that theyre not using anymore that are collecting dust in the attic, Manilow says.
That kind of generosity may have prompted former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl to tell an interviewer that Barry Manilow is the coolest (expletive) in the world.
I love that, Manilow says. Daves a friend. He could probably feel that the (interviewer) was surprised that we were friends.
I love his answer, that Im the coolest (yes, folks, Manilow repeated it, with pride!) in the world.
And you know what? Grohls right.