The song “Read ‘Em and Weep” came out in 1983 (and Barry did it way better than Meatloaf had done a few years before—that’s why Barry’s version made it to #18 in the Billboard Hot 100 and Meatloaf’s did not. Read that and weep, Meatloaf fans).
Barry’s “A” Rodden Rating birth chart indicates he was born on 17 June, 1943 at 9:00 in Brooklyn New York. With Jupiter in Cancer, he would naturally want to learn by extending himself emotionally and could only take risks if he felt the support of his family and other loved ones. Although his mother divorced his father when he was young, Barry was very close to his maternal grandparents and he reportedly idolised his mother who he imagined was a martini-drinking sophisticate even though she was a travel agency secretary. It is appropriate for a man known for writing music to send millions of “Fanilows” in ecstasy to have Jupiter in the 12th house.
With Saturn in Gemini, he may have felt he had a particular important message rather the frivolous kinds normally associated the sign of Gemini. Saturn in Gemini pupils learn very quickly that if they’re going to say something, they had better know what they’re talking about. They polarise into know-it-all academics or pupils who are terrified of looking stupid so they never open their mouths. Barry has indicated in interviews that his goals were to be involved in music that outlived him, a very “heavy” statement about music from a man labelled, “The King of Schmaltz”. Although Barry has had some very successful collaborations, with Saturn in the 11th house, it is interesting these have often served as springboards for his solo performances. One of the more notable features of Barry’s chart is the Saturn-Moon opposition which forms the spine of a kite formation in his chart. Thus every time the opposition is triggered off by transiting planets, all the planets in this formation are affected.
Barry’s first of three Jupiter oppositions (in Sagittarius) came about 6 months before his 6th birthday and ended a few months before his first Saturn squares. Oppositions give us a chance to look at how far we’ve come and what more we need to do to achieve what we want. With Jupiter transiting in Sagittarius, Barry may have gotten the first notion that he wanted to become involved in adventures that would enhance the meaning of his life. Of course, this would provide a very broad range of choices (in true Sagittarius style) but is interesting that when his first Saturn squares hit a few months later, Barry chose to get involved in music.
During his first Saturn squares (also a series of three), the first just before he turned 7 years old, Barry learned to play the accordion. Hardly a sexy instrument or an easy one to carry around but like stringed instruments and the piano, it makes a suitable choice for a child who doesn’t have front teeth (remember Saturn rules the teeth). The other advantages of playing the accordion is that chord structures—a sizeable bugbear to overcome if you play an instrument that only requires reading one line of music at a time—are learned. And, the accordion is also a rhythmic instrument. All handy skills for a future musical superstar who would go on to sell 58 million records worldwide.
Barry had a series of three Jupiter returns throughout 1954, the first quite a bit earlier than an astrologer would expect at 11 years 3 months but finishing at the more typical 11 years 11 months. The return of any planet to its natal point marks a time of taking stock. Whereas the oppositions give us time to decide what we need to do, returns provide us with the opportunity to evaluate. With Jupiter, the planet of growth, it is a time to actively search for ways to expand whether this is done consciously or unconsciously. Although much more research needs to be done, the growing phases of the Jupiter cycles may contribute to physical variations that take place during adolescence and further, the secondary variations related to confidence and risk taking that result.
Barry’s mother remarried when he was 13 years old and he changed his name from Barry Pincus to Barry Manilow at the time of his Bar Mitzvah. His step father introduced him to jazz and big band music and crucially, Barry began taking piano lessons. His first Saturn opposition was preceded by a conjunction to his natal Moon. We usually view this type of transit as being a negative experience and Barry has said in interviews that it was around this time that both his mother and stepfather began drinking heavily. Experiences during adolescence have a lifelong effect on us because crucial areas of the brain are developing and creating the synapses that hold the memories of these events. Although the adolescent Barry might not have realised the significance of these experiences, the habits of a lifetime were being created.
Whilst very unhappy on one level, other areas of Barry’s life were thriving. He started writing his own music and formed a jazz band even though he was “looking over his shoulder and wondering what was going to happen next” during this time.
In 1961, both Jupiter and Saturn opposed his natal Jupiter when he started attending Julliard and began work on his first musical adaptation of a melodrama entitled “The Drunkard” which eventually became a long running off Broadway hit. For the next cycle of Jupiter he worked as a jingle writer for companies such as State Farm insurance, McDonald’s and Band-Aid. At Barry’s first Saturn return, he began working with Bette Midler as her musical director, arranger and pianist. As Jupiter again opposed itself in 1973, he had persuaded her to allow him to be the opening solo act for her US tour.
In 1974, transit Saturn made a series of squares to its natal position and to the Moon. Square aspects force an individual to do something productive and arguably, this time was the most industrious time of Barry’s life as he released two successive hit records and was the opening act of Dionne Warwick’s set at the Schaefer Music Festival in the summer of 1974.
But it would appear Barry was still a troubled adolescent marked by his mother’s drinking. As transit Saturn made a series of conjunction to Barry’s natal Chiron from 1977-78, he wrote and released one of his most famous songs, “Copacabana,” a song about Lola the showgirl who lost the love of her life, then her youth, began drinking herself half blind and eventually lost her mind. He also released the song “Even Now,” a melancholic song that could very well be about the son who still misses his absent mother. Barry Manilow still confesses on stage that this is his favourite song to sing.
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