The last program for last seasons New York Sheet Music Society, was suggested by producer Pat Addiss. Pat recommended the lyricist Marty Panzer. Who is Marty Panzer? Panzer wrote the lyrics to many Barry Manilow hits, as well as most of the Disney Princess songs. Marty made a splash at the Sheet Music gig so Ms. Addiss and Sandi Durell are bringing the Grammy Award Winner, who is Barry Manilow’s first writing partner, to town for a benefit evening on April 28th at the Triad which quickly sold out. A second show is now set for April 29th at 7:30pm. The evening is donating funds to the Manilow Music Project which provides much needed musical instruments to school kids. Panzer is funny; a raconteur with a list of brilliant lyrics. His stories, while we were on the phone, had me laughing so hard I was crying. He talks about Barry, his career and a life well led. Among his many hits are” Even Now,” “All The Time,” “This One’s For You,” “It’s a Miracle,” Disney hits (The Lion King II, Pocahontas II) along with songs for celebrities Kenny Rogers (Through The Years) and Julio Iglesias, Michael Crawford, Diane Schuur and more.
T2C: How did you meet Barry Manilow?
Marty Panzer: I met Barry in the mailroom at CBS. I started three days after High School. I walked into the mailroom and there was Barry. We had attended Eastern District High School Brooklyn. Barry graduated before me and had been there six months. Who knew that fateful day I would meet my best friend.
T2C: How did the two of you start writing together?
MP: Barry left CBS and opened a studio where he coached, arranged and did musical direction for dozens of up-and-coming artists. One day he brought me to a commercial agent and we were asked to write a commercial on spec. We did, and together we became successful with Cup-a-Soup and a host of others. I also wrote commercials with Rupert Holmes.
T2C: What was your first successful hit with Barry?
MP: “I Am Your Child,” which was used later by Rob Reiner. Reiner had read a study that said a child’s brain grows the most within the first 3 years, and therefore dictates the rest of the child’s life. Carol Bayer Sager told Rob about our song and Rob used that song to create his foundation. To this day, I am so very proud of that song, and its accomplishments. I actually wrote the song about my mother, as well as “Through the Years.”
T2C: How did “Through the Years” happen?
MP: I met Steven Dorff, and together we wrote “Through the Years” for Kenny Rodgers. That song has put food on my table for 30 years.
T2C: My favorite song of yours is “Who’s Been Sleeping in my Bed.” Will that be in the show?
MP: No, because it needs a lot of orchestration, but there is a funny story to that song. I got a call from a man saying, “You don’t know me… but I am the biggest star in the world.” It was Julio Iglesias who stated; “Your titles are better than most people’s lyrics.” He loved “Who’s Been Sleeping in my Bed.” From that call, I ended up writing “The Last Time,” and spent 5 unforgettable years with Julio. After working with Julio, that song should have been titled “Everyone’s Sleeping in my Bed,” he was such a Casanova.
T2C: How many songs have you written?
MP: I’ve written dozens of songs with Barry… and over a hundred songs for Disney, with the incomparable Don Grady.
T2C: The “My Three Sons” star, Don Grady?
MP: Yes, together we did a song for EFX starring Michael Crawford. Michael wasn’t inclined to learn new songs (especially this close to opening), but cried upon hearing “Tonight,” and added it to the score. The show ran for seven years.
T2C: Who else did you write with?
MP: Larry Grossman, and thus began what became my “Disney Years.” Don and I have written and produced over a hundred songs for Walt Disney. I wrote a song for The Lion King II” (Disney’s first ever “Direct-to DVD” release), Pocahontas II and more.
T2C: What is your favorite song that you’ve have penned?
MP: “New York City Rhythm.” It was a huge accomplishment.
T2C: What advice would you give to songwriters?
MP: Find your own personal voice. Be better than good, be great. Find another means of supporting yourself. I worked for CBS for 15 years. Barry told me, “At the beginning of your life, the hours point inward, it is all about you. In the end the hours point outwards and life becomes about what can I do for everyone else.” Keep that in mind.
T2C: What advice do you give to singers?
MP: If you can’t write a great song, find a great song. Don’t sing above your ability. Don’t feel compelled to sing everything.
T2C: What would you like people to know about you?
MP: I am a happy guy singing the soundtrack of my life. I have spent 30 years working with my best friend.
To see Marty in person at the Triad with his cast of incredible performers: Katie Finneran, Brent Barrett, Erich Bergen, Maya Days, Jeremiah James, Barrett Foa, James Snyder, Andrea Burns, Santino Fontana and surprises.
If you are a songwriter, Marty will be giving his first East Coast class from April 19th to May 26th at Hunter College.
You can also catch Barry Manilow singing Panzer’s lyrics April 30th, May 1st and May 2nd at Radio City Music Hall.
The first show sold out at the Triad book now for the command 2nd performance. Call 800-838-3006 or go to www.brownpapertickets.com