Whenever I meet somebody for the first time and introduce myself, there’s a distinct possibility they will spontaneously burst into song. This might sound odd, but it has happened to me many times before. It reminds me of Kate Winslet’s character Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind who immediately tells Joel (Jim Carrey) when they meet “So, no jokes about my name!“. Then of course, Joel does it anyway: “What, you mean like oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine?”.

In my case, particularly if the person I’m talking to was born in the fifties, they will often launch into Barry Manilow’s 1974 hit “Mandy”. I’ve learned to grin and bear it, always torn between two emotions. On the one hand there’s the obvious embarrassment. Barry Manilow is arguably one of the cheesiest melodramatic singers to date, leaving us a legacy of endless mediocre wedding singers and drunk karaoke sessions. It’s hard to believe “Mandy” was released in the same year as David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and Barry’s holiday anthem “Copacabana” coincided with The Buzzcock’s “I Don’t Mind”. Manilow is such an easy target, his songs have been the butt of many a parody. My personal favourite is Rowan Atkinson’s take on Barry on Not The Nine O’Clock News.

On the other hand, I secretly love the song. It’s true, I was in fact named after it. My mom still loves it to this day. In all fairness, it’s actualy a damn good song and I’m sure it’s a guilty pleasure for many people. It was originally recorded by Scott English as “Brandy” and there are various interpretations of the lyrics: a tale of alcoholism, a miss-you-balad about a dog or the more straight forward break-up song. Manilow sings it with such sincerity and no hint of sarcasm, check out this clip of him in concert:

However, nostalgia is not the reason I started out this blogpost. I’ve found a reason for future expecting mothers to keep calling their daughters Mandy! Last year I stumbled upon The Spinto Band, a six piece indie band from Delaware. One of their songs, “Trust vs. Mistrust” (which has a great video), somehow made it into my iTunes and I’ve been playing it ever since. This afternoon I was in my favourite record store Plato and as I casually thumbed through the cd’s under S I came across their 2005 album “Nice and Nicely Done”. I decided to listen to it, and to my big surprise one of the standout tracks just happens to be called “Oh Mandy”! Apparently it was released as a single in August of 2006. I never heard it before! Again there is a brilliant video to go with it:

What a relief, the name Mandy need no longer be based on guilty pleasure alone. I hope there will be a new generation of Mandy’s who’s parents were inspired by the indie greatness of The Spinto Band!

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