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I Write The Songs

by

Barry Manilow



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written by Bruce Johnston, who is a member of The Beach Boys. The song is sometimes erroneously rumored to be about Brian Wilson. Johnston cleared this up when he told us: "The Captain & Tennille were the first artists to record my song 'I Write The Songs.' 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."
Teen heartthrob David Cassidy released a successful version that was a single in England and hit #11 on the UK charts. Clive Davis, who was in charge of Manilow's record label, heard Cassidy's version and had Manilow record it.
This won a Grammy for Song Of The Year. The Beach Boys never won a Grammy - after winning this, Johnston became the only member of the group to get one until Brian Wilson's "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" was awarded Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 2005. (thanks, Martin - Ludvika, Sweden)
From the liner notes of The Complete Collection And Then Some...: Manilow was originally reluctant to record this song, saying to Arista Records chief Clive Davis, "This 'I Write The Songs' thing Clive, I really don't want to do it." Manilow says his worry "was that the listeners would think I was singing about how "I" write the songs, when it was really about the inspiration of music. Clive understood, but didn't think it would be a problem. "Besides," he told me, "You DO write songs!" Manilow says he was concerned about coming off as a gigantic egomaniac, but that he liked the song so much he decided to record it. He adds, "Whenever I heard the song in public, I felt the need to run to everyone who was listening and say, 'You know, I'm really not singing about myself!'" (thanks, Judy - Melbourne, Australia)
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Comments (20):

Starry-eyed Jesus freaks herein should take their comments to other sites. This one is for music freaks.
- David, Lynn, Massachusetts, MA
I enjoy reading all the pro and con comments about my song "I Write The Songs."
I suggest just a slight change at the top of of the Songfacts Board.... Please change the following: "This was written by Bruce Johnston, who was a member of The Beach Boys." to: This was written by Bruce Johnston, who is a member of the Beach Boys.

Thanks (I'm still in the band performing 140-170 worldwide concerts!)
Bruce Johnston
September 17, 2011
- Bruce, Santa Barbara, CA
heaven and hell is not a place of reward or punishment, but a state of mind
- dom, toronto, ON
Someone said that Lucifer (or Devil, whatever he's a loser anyway) composed the first song, yeah, he did it, but who gave this wonderful talent? God! Who else? And when this angel came to the Earth he thought that could everything (and still think, that's worse), but he can't.
- Roberta Trevisan, S?o Paulo, Brazil
Once Galileo Galilei had said: "Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe." And I do believe this, God does whatever He wants and He doesn't care a damn thing to the Devil, also he can do whatever he wants to, but God created everything He doesn't need to fake anything and Devil needs because he's a gambler and some other bad things that you might know very well. So that's why I believe that Rock n Roll (and some other genres) doesn't belong to the Devil and it does belong to God, if the bands are not praising God... well, I can't decide anything, I'm not the judge, He is.
- Roberta Trevisan, S?o Paulo, Brazil
Where does all this nonsense about Satan come from? This is truly bizarre. Everything comes from God. He created our universe. The inspiration for writing music comes from God. But like television, the internet, and most all other forms of technology and arts, Satan finds a way to use them for his evil purposes. Do not fear Satan. He only has as much control over your life as you give him. But for those who love and stay close to God, Satan can do very little. God is more powerful the Satan, but he will not force His will or purpose upon anyone. They is a fundamental principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are agency can condemn us, but through our agency to repent and have faith in God, Jesus saves us. Once again, "I Write the Songs" is a masterpiece of beauty and love that Satan would like to destroy. Don't let Satan confuse you into thinking that he wrote it. As the lyrics state "I am music, and I write the songs." God created music, and as Bruce said, "...music comes only from God."
- Carl, Blackfoot, ID
I truly believe what Bruce said about who writes the songs. Music comes from God, not the devil. Perhaps there are some evil songs God gave permission for the devil to author, but "I Write the Songs" is not one of them. I have seldom heard a more inspiration song (from God) than that one. "I write the songs that make the whole world sing" (as brothers and sisters united in love). This reminds me of how the world will be when Jesus returns. Only God could put those words and melody together. God is music. What an amazing song!!!
- Carl, Blackfoot, ID
I wholeheartedly agree with Mayra, Riverside California- this is a song describing Satan- I have been telling people this, but they don't understand!!!! Satan prospers people in the 'industry' who worship and pay homage to him, but there is a price to pay when you play with the Devil... God bless! :)
- Tami, Daytona Beach, Florida, VA
I always liked the melody of this song, but recently I actually listened to all of the lyrics and realized that Barry was referring to 'music' writing the songs. I now consider this one of my all time favorite songs.
- Jeff, Austin, TX
Songfacts:....what about "Bandstand Boogie"? that was a great one as well!
- Harold, San Bernadino, CA
Among the favorites of mine, for sure------brings back very fond memories.
- Daevid, Glendale, CA
Interesting how this entire song describes Satan. (Lucifer, indeed wrote the very first song...he was the leader of the chorale in heaven...). C'mon people, dont be so blind...
- Mayra, Riverside, CA
Bruce Johnson recorded it first it is on one of the "Before They Were Hits-Or We Did It First" compliations.
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
No one seems to remember that Frank Sinatra did a version of this, only he changed it to "I SING the Songs". He was kind of losing his voice by then and it was only fair. It also kind of missed the point that it was more about the inspiration of the songwriter, not the writer himself. The singer has a different kind of inspiration.
- Jerry, Brooklyn, NY
Barry also wrote commercial jingles such as McDonalds "You deserve a break today, so get up and get away...." and State Farm insurance "And like a good neighbor State Farm is there....".
- Jay, Atlanta, GA
Bruce Johnston finally recorded his own version of this song on his forgotten "Going Public" album.
A band called Dayglo Abortions also does a punk/grunge cover of this song.
- Joshua, Twin Cities, MN
I have seen House Arrest Chris on the local club scene here in Lauderdale. AWESOME! He covers many songs, but yes, "I Write The Songs" is my favorite too. Head-banging version of course. It is definitely a show for adults, with lot's of profanity and suggestive dance moves by Chris. When I saw him over Memorial Day weekend he set his penis on fire during his version of "Dancing Queen".
- Gary, Ft Lauderdale, FL
A hot young talent down here in South Florida named House Arrest Chris covers this in his concerts. He does a heavy metal version of this song and it ROCKS!! Keep an eye on this up and coming superstar- when he hits your town check out the show!
- Bob, Boca Raton, FL
Whenever David Cassidy plays "I write The Songs" live, he usually points out that he was the first to record it. Captain and Tennile actually recorded a decent version of this song, but of course Manilow's is the definitive version. This was Barry's second US #1 out of three ("Mandy" was the first and "Looks LIke We Made It" was the third).
- Steven, New York City, NY
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