I Write the Songs

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"I Write the Songs"
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.

Barry Manilow's "I Write The Songs" from Tryin' to Get the Feeling

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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 1975, 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 was also covered this song with the Tagalog verse in second line as Manila Sound version. In 2008, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes recorded it on their album Have Another Ball.


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]

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. ^ http://australian-charts.com/forum.asp?todo=viewthread&id=35092
  7. ^ http://nztop40.co.nz/chart/singles?chart=2677
  8. ^ http://www.oldiesloon.com
  9. ^ http://australian-charts.com/forum.asp?todo=viewthread&id=35092
  10. ^ http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/
  11. ^ http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1976.htm
  12. ^ http://www.oldiesloon.com/il/wls89of76.htm

External links[edit]

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