|I Write the Songs|
Single by Barry Manilow
from the album Tryin' to Get the Feeling
Released November 1975
Format 7" (45 rpm)
Length 3:43 (single version)
Label Arista 0157
Writer(s) Bruce Johnston
Producer Ron Dante
"I Write the Songs" is a popular song written by Bruce Johnston in 1975 and made famous by Barry Manilow. Manilow's version reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1976 after spending two weeks atop the Billboard adult contemporary chart in December 1975.
A Grammy Award for Song of the Year and nominated for Record of the Year in 1977, it became one of Manilow's signature songs.
The original version was recorded by The Captain & Tennille, who worked with Bruce Johnston in the early 1970s with The Beach Boys.
It appears on their 1975 album, Love Will Keep Us Together. The first release of I Write the Songs as a single was by then teen-idol David Cassidy from his 1975 solo album The Higher They Climb, which was also produced by Bruce Johnston. Cassidy's version reached #11 on the UK Singles Chart in August of that year.
The title has been misunderstood to mean that the singer (or songwriter) "writes the songs", but the actual songwriter, The Beach Boys' Bruce Johnston, has stated that the "I" in the song is "God".
He went on to say that songs come from the spirit of creativity in all of us. Another misunderstood myth is Bruce Johnston wrote the song for his Beach Boys bandmate Brian Wilson. Johnston stated, "I never wrote 'I Write The Songs' about Brian Wilson.
I wrote it about 'where music comes from' (for me, music comes only from God). My song has nothing to do with Brian! I admire Brian Wilson's great melodies and, as a member of the Beach Boys, I'm singing these fantastic songs in concert year after year".
Manilow was initially reluctant to record the song, stating in his autobiography Sweet Life: "The problem with the song was that if you didn't listen carefully to the lyric, you would think that the singer was singing about himself. It could be misinterpreted as a monumental ego trip."
After persuasion by Clive Davis, then president of Arista Records, Manilow relented and recorded the song, and his version of "I Write the Songs" was the first single taken from the album Tryin' to Get the Feeling.
It first charted on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 15, 1975, reaching the top of the chart nine weeks later, on January 17, 1976.
This song has also been recorded by Johnny Mathis, Tom Jones, Dinah Shore, as well as Bruce Johnston himself on his 1977 album, Going Public. Frank Sinatra sang it as "I Sing the Songs" from 1976 (leaving out the line "and I wrote some rock and roll so you could move").
In 1979, Sammy Davis, Jr. performed it as part of his live show. In 2008, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes recorded it on their album Have Another Ball.
Manilow did a parody duet titled "I Write the Songs/I Wreck the Songs" with Rosie O'Donnell on her talk show on April 18, 1997.
Manilow did another shortened performance of this song with Stephen Colbert when he was a guest on The Colbert Report on October 30, 2006.