From Barry to The Bishop: One Groupie’s Journey

If this one sounds familiar, it originally ran March 30, 2012. I’ve edited and reposted it for this week’s Yeah Write Summer Challenge.

Ohhhhhh, Mandy!

My first concert was Barry Manilow. It was 1978 and my college-age babysitter, Mary, took me to see him at Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan. I was 10 years old, apparently too young to know or care how uncool Barry is by most people’s standards. Even worse, I had a huge crush on him. I distinctly remember running down the hill on the lawn at Pine Knob singing, “I am stuck on Barry Manilow, but he ain’t stuck on me” (to the tune of the “I am stuck on Band-Aid” jingle, which I later learned Barry wrote).

While my love for Barry waned, at least slightly, my love for music never did. Through my sister, the disco queen, I became a huge Donna Summer fan. My brother, the rock-and-roller, balanced things out with some Hendrix and Zeppelin.

My brother is also responsible for my love of The Doors, which reached its height in my 20s. Apparently, it began much earlier, however. I’m told that my aunt and uncle took preschool-age me to church with them one Sunday and got a big surprise. When everyone stood up to sing a hymn, I burst into a resounding version of the chorus of “Light My Fire.”

Since I believe in full disclosure, I must also admit that I had a brief obsession with Shaun Cassidy, the Justin Bieber of the late 1970s. His poster was on my wall, and I played his eponymous first album relentlessly while singing along to his picture on the cover. I may cringe at the sound of a Bieber song today, but I can’t judge too harshly given my love for Shaun. Thankfully, my 10-year-old daughter has far more discerning taste in music. Her iPod is loaded with Adele, The Beatles and Death Cab for Cutie.

The musical accompaniment to my junior high and high school years was predominantly punk rock, new wave and alternative in nature, and my angst was only outweighed by the ridiculousness of my haircuts. I have a shoebox full of concert stubs from all those late nights in smoky clubs. Echo and the Bunnymen was one of my favorites. I showed my adoration by sporting the same hairdo as the lead singer. There was a lot of teasing and Aqua Net involved.

Fast forward to age 44: I’m married to a guy who loves music almost as much as I do, and we have two talented musicians for children. My husband plays bass, my daughter plays trumpet and piano, and my son, the musical phenom, plays guitar, alto saxophone, piano and ukulele.

My husband’s band, The Bishop, plays gigs regularly in and around our small town and in Chicago. Even though I’m a working mom who’s expected to behave maturely on a daily basis, I still get to indulge my groupie side one or twice a month.

It’s been a long journey from Barry to The Bishop. Thank you, Mr. Manilow, for lighting my fire (sorry, Mr. Morrison).

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38 thoughts on “From Barry to The Bishop: One Groupie’s Journey

  1. I had no idea Barry wrote the stuck on band aid song. Of course as a diehard Breakfast Club groupie I must also ask “does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?”

    Very impressive use of chess.

  2. Nice work with the prompt! Musical taste changes so much over the years. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but my MP3 player is exactly like your daughter’s. As she’s musically inclined, I’ll go ahead and say it’s a good sign.

    • My daughter’s iPod is a direct result of downloading stuff from our iTunes account. We NEVER played anything but real music — or what we listen to, anyway — in our house when our kids were little. No Kid Bop or Disney. They listened to what we do, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

  3. Barry Manilow wrote that jingle? are you kidding me? I had no idea. And he was great, no matter what anyone says. Is he still alive? I hope so. This post is hilarious and a wonderful trip down memory lane. I wish I coulda been in that church when you busted out singing. Priceless.

    • Thanks, Christie. The singing in church story is one of my favorites. The aunt who took me was very proper. I’m sure she was absolutely mortified.

      Barry is still alive and singing, by the way. He’s unstoppable.

  4. I love this story! My dad was a chief musician in the Navy band, and some of my earliest memories are of him in parades, leading the band. My brother is also very musical. I unfortunately, only received the music-appreciation gene. So I majored in radio/tv and was a dj for a while. I liked Echo and the Bunnymen a lot too!

  5. My hubby is a Fanilow, too. I preferred Neil Diamond. We’re an interesting mix as he was raised on old-school country and western (yes, the “and western” part, too) and my parents played ’60s and ’70s oldies and hated country music. Hubby went all hair metal (crap rock) as a teen and I was U2 all the way. Our kids are getting (I hope) the best of it. We must be doing something right if my son named his Build-a-Bear cat “Dear Prudence,” right?

    • A Build-a-Bear cat named “Dear Prudence”? That is too cool for words. Siouxsie Sioux would be honored, I bet.

      Does your hubby like Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, etc.? Those are the artists I think of when I think “country.” Today’s country is crap, IMHO.

  6. Your 10-year-old has some excellent taste in music! I was so angst-ridden as a pre-teen, I wouldn’t have known good music if it hit me in the Walkman. Then again, it was the 80s. Love the use of the prompt on this one – I thought about it but couldn’t make it come together.

    • Thanks. Loved the “if it hit me in the Walkman” line, by the way.

      I was pretty angst-filled in the 80s too. There was so much dark, brooding music to choose from and I loved it all. When I tell my kids about those years and share the music I listened to, they ask me, “Mom, are you sure you weren’t goth?” I was more punk with a touch of emo, a label that, of course, didn’t even exist then. But it fits.

  7. I understand that visceral connection with music. It was how my parents and I identified with one another, and it’s how my children identify with the world.

    • It is definitely bonding for my family. I’m glad we have it in common, even if I can’t sing or play anything myself. I love being their biggest fan.

  8. Oh, we should be friends! I loved Barry, too! Along with Neil Diamond, who just played at DTE Music Theater, which was the former Pine Knob! Not cool at all, but so fun 🙂

    And I, too, had a Sean Cassidy crush 🙂

    • Yay! I love finding like-minded musical souls. Neil Diamond is someone I’ve never seen live, but I hear he’s fabulous. Now I will have “Sweet Caroline” stuck in my head for the rest of the night. So you are a Michigander?

  9. You did such a great job with the prompt! You smarty pants, you!

    I am also a lover of music, and I’m glad you found a way to indulge your inner groupie! 🙂

  10. Oh, what fun! I’d love to be a groupie of my husband (well, I am, but he’s not in a band). I like how you move from a broad sweep of past musical tastes to a very specific moment in your forty-four-year-old present, and, as Melissa said, what a whimsical nod to the chess prompt.

  11. I feel so slow. Not only did I not know that Manilow wrote the “Band-Aid” song, I didn’t understand how this post involved chess because I forgot the various pieces. This was very clever! Great post!

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