1980-64: Barry Manilow, “Ships”

Okay, I confess. I was, am, and will probably always be a Barry Manilow fan. I’m a sucker for a sappy ballad with a beautiful melody, lush harmonies and tear-jerking lyrics. And the key changes. Yes! The key changes!

Now don’t get me wrong. As a pre-teen in the ’70s that’s not all I listened to. I put my ears on a strict diet of Billy, Bee Gees and Barry. But since it wasn’t cool to like Mr. Manilow’s music (or the Bee Gees, come to think of it) I did my best to keep it on the down low. When the subject of what music I liked came up, I talked about the other piano man, Billy Joel.

Even though “Ships” peaked at #9 in late 1979, it seems to be one of Barry Manilow’s lesser known hits. (Let’s face it, you don’t hear this one on classic adult contemporary radio as much as “Mandy” and “This One’s for You.”) Nonetheless it charted high enough to become the #98 song of 1980.

I have this vivid memory of driving with my dad in his Lincoln Continental and listening to this song. It was on cassette, and I don’t recall if I owned the cassette or if he did. But either way I liked the fact that the song is about a father-son relationship. On the other hand I hated the fact that it talks about the two drifting apart.

We’ll be hearing from Manilow again real soon. Like in two more posts…

Memorable lyric: “And it seems you and I are like strangers a wide ways apart as we drift on through time. He said it’s harder now we’re far away; we only read you when you write.”


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Connections pastor. On-air personality. Chart geek.

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