I thought I recognized the tune Jellybean mumbled while puttering dancing through the den.
“… I feel sad when you’re sad/I feel glad when you’re glad…”
It struck a chord, but I couldn’t immediately place it.
I’m kind of Rain Man-esque when it comes to song snippets. In any given moment I can be singing the opening lines of “Jack and Diane” before leaping to the spoken-word intro of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” (“… Dearly Beloved, we’re gathered here today to get through this thing called life …”) then breaking into License to Ill- era Beastie Boys (“one lonely Beastie I be/all by myself without nobody” next thing I’m doing my best Bob Dylan impression with “Tangled Up in Blue,” (… She was married when we first met/soon to be divorced/helped her out of jam I guess/but I used a little too much force”) that segues nicely into Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” then wrapping things up with the theme song from “Facts of Life” – all before pouring my morning’s first cup of coffee.
Jellybean’s certainly my prodigy. If she’s not making up her own songs, such as her recent ditty, “The Creepy Song,” where she sings about sucking the blood out of bleeding zombie vampires, she’s bouncing around the house performing tracks from “Mama Mia,” “Grease II,” “Glee,” “Little Shop of Horrors” or our her current favorite musical, “Rock of Ages.”
So I was pretty attune to Jellybean’s internal juke box.
But there it was again, “And I can’t write/and I can’t sing …”
I was at a loss. Jellybean had stumped me, and of course when asked what she was singing, she simply grinned, shrugged her shoulders and broke into “It’s Midnight Cinderella” by Garth Brooks (Yep … Garth Brooks). It wasn’t until bath time that the mystery was cracked.
We were cleaning all the nooks and crannies when she bursts out with, “…At the Copa, Copacabana/The hottest spot, north of Havana.”
It was a pop-music revelation, a burning-bush moment. It was freakin’ Barry Manilow.
The next morning, on the way to Target, I pulled up the “Definitive Barry Manilow” on my iPod to the utter shock and awe of both Jellybean and My Lovely Wife, who didn’t understand how the king of mellow rock could be shoe-horned alongside the likes of Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson, Opeth and Cradle of Filth in my playlists.
Personally, I think it’s important to keep your spouse guessing. Heck, I’ve also go a little Jewel in there and can go note-for-note with Olivia Newton John on Xanadu (“Now we are here…”
Eventually, we’re all belting out “Mandy,” I Write the Songs,” “Looks like We Made It” and my personal favorite, “Ready to Take a Chance Again.”
See, me and Barry go way back. One of my fondest memories is singing and dancing with my Dear, Sweet Mom while “Copacabana” played on the tape deck. I was always haunted by that image of Lola having lost her love then lost her mind.
Still, there was an enduring mystery – how had Jellybean came to know the might of Manilow. It turned out her K-4 teacher was to blame (thanks) because she used the best-of Barry during nap time. I had this conversation only because Jellybean felt the need to share with her teacher that I’d made her a Manilow mixtape. Fortunately, I kept my coolness intact, talking about my non-ironic appreciation for Barry while wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt.
After all, Barry Manilow might write the songs, and Jellybean might sing those songs, but I’ve got a rep to protect.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.