I Write the Songs

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"I Write the Songs"
I Write the Songs cover.jpg
Single by Barry Manilow
from the album Tryin' to Get the Feeling
B-side "A Nice Boy Like Me"
Released November 1975
Format 7" (45 rpm)
Recorded 1975
Genre Pop
Length 3:43 (single version)
Label Arista 0157
Writer(s) Bruce Johnston
Producer(s) Ron Dante
Barry Manilow
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Barry Manilow singles chronology
"Could It Be Magic"
"I Write the Songs"
"Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again"

"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[1] after spending two weeks atop the Billboard adult contemporary chart in December 1975.[2] It won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year and was nominated for Record of the Year in 1977.[2] Billboard ranked it as the No. 13 song of 1976.[3]

The original version was recorded by The Captain & Tennille, who worked with 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.[4]

Johnston has stated that, for him, the "I" in the song is God,[1] and that songs come from the spirit of creativity in all of us. He has said that the song is not about his Beach Boys bandmate Brian Wilson.[5]

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."[2] After persuasion by Clive Davis, then president of Arista Records, Manilow 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.

Chart performance[edit]

"I Write the Songs"
Single by David Cassidy
from the album The Higher They Climb
Released 1975
Format 7" (45 rpm)
Recorded 1975
Genre Pop
Length 4:07
Label RCA Records
Producer(s) Bruce Johnston
David Cassidy singles chronology
"I Write the Songs"

Cover versions[edit]

This song has also been recorded by Johnny Mathis, Frank Chacksfield, Mantovani, Ray Conniff, Richard Clayderman, 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 circa 1976, Quebec popular singer René Simard performed it live in a French-English two-verse version. The same year, French singer Claude François performed a French adaptation named "Je Chante des Chansons" (I Sing Songs). In circa 1976, Filipino singer Rico J. Puno also covered this song with the Tagalog verse in second line as the Manila Sound version. In 2008, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes recorded it on their album Have Another Ball. On August 16, 2016 the song "I Write the Songs" was covered by the members of Calle Siete and Eat Bulaga!'s Thats My Bae Grand Winner Kenneth Medrano for the album Made for You was released on June 22, 2016 after the song "I'll Never Go".


Manilow performed a parody duet entitled "I Write the Songs/I Wreck the Songs" with Rosie O'Donnell on her talk show on April 18, 1997.[citation needed]

Manilow performed another shortened version of this song with Stephen Colbert when he was a guest on The Colbert Report on October 30, 2006.[citation needed]

After his version reached number one, Manilow himself composed a novelty song based on this song which he recorded under the title "I really do write the songs" in which he sings about how he composes each part of a song and the line "sometimes I really do write the songs" at the end of each verse. In the finale he sings "sometimes... ah what the hell... i write the songs". Unreleased at the time, it was included as a bonus track on the reissue of his album "This ones for you" in 2006.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of #1 Hits, 5th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 425.
  2. ^ a b c Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of #1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), page 177.
  3. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1976
  4. ^ UK Singles Chart info Chartstats.com. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  5. ^ "I Write The Songs by Barry Manilow Songfacts". Songfacts.com. 2011-09-17. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  6. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  7. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4077a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  8. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 4058." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  9. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1976-03-01. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  10. ^ "Barry Manilow – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Barry Manilow.
  11. ^ "Barry Manilow – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Barry Manilow.
  12. ^ "RPM - Library and Archives Canada | RPM - Bibliothèque et Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  13. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1976/Top 100 Songs of 1976". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Convoy" by C. W. McCall
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
January 17, 1976 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" by Diana Ross