Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.
MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: Barry Manilow wrote “Mandy” about his dog.
A very popular urban legend is that Barry Manilow wrote the song “Mandy” about his dog.
It is so popular that it even made it into the film Can’t Hardly Wait as a plot point (the male lead is into a girl named Amanda, and he thinks of “Mandy” a lot, but various characters keep telling him that it is about a dog).
But is TRUE?
Well, first off, the story is false in the sense that Barry Manilow did not write “Mandy.”
Secondly, the song was not even originally CALLED “Mandy.”
Thirdly, it appears to be false ANYways.
The song that became “Mandy” originally appeared on the charts under the name “Brandy” written by Scott English, with music by Richard Kerr.
English had penned the American Breed hit “Bend Me Shape Me” in the late 1960s…
His song “Brandy” was a mild hit in the United States in 1971, but was a Top 20 hit in England the same year.
A couple of years later, legendary hit-maker Clive Davis recommended to Manilow that he should record the song.
By this time, however, Looking Glass had has a monster hit in 1972 with their song ALSO titled “Brandy” (specifically “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”)…
So it was decided that they should change the name, and “Mandy” was the choice, and it worked, as it was a massive hit for Manilow – his first (of three) Billboard #1 song!
But what about the whole “the song is about a dog” story?
Well, before I even get into the genesis of that story, do note that the song’s lyrics include in the chorus:
Well you came and you gave without taking
but I sent you away, oh Mandy
well you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
I need you today, oh Mandy
I think the bolded part is a pretty good sign that the song is not written about a dog.
In any event, as it turned out, the whole story can be traced back to an “interview” English gave when the original song (“Brandy”) was a hit in England in 1971.
According to English:
People often ask me if “Brandy” was written about a dog. It was NOT, but I know how that story began. During the year I had my 8 minutes of fame with my own rendition of “Brandy” (in the UK), I was awakened at 7 AM by a reporter. He wanted to know WHO Brandy was. I would have said anything to get rid of him, so I spat out the first thing that came to mind. It was about a dog like Lassie and I had her sent away. Now you go away!, I said, and then hung up the phone on him! i guess I’ll have to live with that story.
Yep, the song will definitely be forever “dogged” by those rumors (I couldn’t help it!).
The legend is…
Thanks to Scott English for clearing things up (and thanks to Wesley Hyatt’s The Billboard Book of Number One Adult Contemporary Hits for the English quote!).
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.