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"
ReleasedNovember 1975
Format7" (45 rpm)
GenreSoft rock[1]
Length3:43 (single version)
LabelArista 0157
Songwriter(s)Bruce Johnston
Producer(s)Ron Dante
Barry Manilow
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 for David Cassidy by Bruce Johnston in 1975 but made famous by Barry Manilow. Manilow's version reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1976[2] after spending two weeks atop the Billboard adult contemporary chart in December 1975.[3] It won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year and was nominated for Record of the Year in 1977.[3] Billboard ranked it as the No. 13 song of 1976.[4]

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 Johnston. Cassidy's version reached number 11 on the UK Singles Chart in August of that year.[5]

Johnston has stated that, for him, the "I" in the song is God,[2] and that songs come from the spirit of creativity in everyone. He has said that the song is not about his Beach Boys bandmate Brian Wilson.[6]

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."[3] 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
Format7" (45 rpm)
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)Bruce Johnston
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. At the Forum de Montréal in 1976 for the Bob Hope Olympic Benefit Event, Quebec popular singer René Simard performed it live in a French-English two-verse version. In 1975, French singer Claude François performed a French adaptation named "Je Chante des Chansons" (I Sing Songs). In 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, it 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, released on June 22, 2016, after the song "I'll Never Go".


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 One's for You in 2006.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lecaro, Lina (November 19, 2016). "This Monthly Club Is a Non-Ironic Celebration of Rock's Softer Side". LA Weekly.
  2. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of #1 Hits, 5th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 425.
  3. ^ a b c Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of #1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), page 177.
  4. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1976
  5. ^ Official Charts Company info OfficialCharts.com. Retrieved August 8, 2009.
  6. ^ "I Write The Songs by Barry Manilow Songfacts". Songfacts.com. September 17, 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4077a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  9. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 4058." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  10. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – I Write the Songs". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  11. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1976-03-22. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  12. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (M)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Barry Manilow Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  14. ^ "Barry Manilow Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  15. ^ "RPM - Library and Archives Canada | RPM - Bibliothèque et Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  16. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1976/Top 100 Songs of 1976". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  17. ^ Top 50 Adult Contemporary Hits of 1976
  18. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved January 26, 2019.

External links[edit]