Barry Manilow knows he's a lucky guy.
"It is exciting to have 12,000 people screaming your name," he says, calling from his home in Palm Springs, California. "You'd have to be dead not to enjoy that. There's nothing like it in the world."
While the 71-year-old superstar with decades of hits from "Mandy" to last year's Top 10 album "My Dream Duets" isn't ready to give all that up yet, he has decided that he's through traveling around the country to get it. Manilow says his "One Last Time!" tour, which stops at Nassau Coliseum on March 27 and wraps up at Barclays Center on June 17, will be his final go-round through the arenas he has filled for decades.
"I've packed too many times," he says, laughing. "I will never see that Tumi luggage ever again!"
Manilow still plans to perform in certain places -- notably, Madison Square Garden and the Staples Center in Los Angeles -- for special occasions, like promoting new albums, but the days of being in a different city every night for weeks at a time have run their course.
It's a decision that Manilow, one of pop music's biggest stars with more than 80 million albums sold worldwide, has struggled with for a while. When he started his residency at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2005, he was part of the first wave of big-time stars setting up camp in Vegas, along with Elton John and Celine Dion.
"Even then I was kvetching about being on the road," says Manilow, adding that he loved playing on the same stage every night. "It's time to stop."
Sony Music Entertainment chief creative officer Clive Davis, who helmed Manilow's early career at Arista Records, said that he saw a kindred spirit in the Brooklyn native, with a mix of talent and drive similar to Barbra Streisand. "You're dealing with the same combination of factors -- Brooklyn, Jewish, hardworking, perfectionists," he said, before Davis was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame last year. "I know Barbra is a perfectionist. I know Barry is a perfectionist."
Manilow accepts that, but he says that what has driven his career isn't a quest for perfection, but a quest for ideas.
"It's the thing I love the most," he says. "I love coming up with ideas. I love rehearsing and giving ideas to the band. I would have been happy in the background. The hard part is getting up on stage and performing. I never planned to do that and it's the part that's the most difficult for me."
One of Manilow's favorite ideas became last year's "My Dream Duets" album.
"It was a thrill," he says. "Could I really take these records that I've loved all my life from singers that I've admired and turn them into duets? I didn't think it was possible because these records that I chose were old scratchy records. In those days, they weren't recording on separate tracks."
However, Manilow made it work, digitally stripping away the original recordings until only the vocals of Jimmy Durante or Mama Cass or Dusty Springfield were left. Then, he wrote and recorded new arrangements for those vocals and his own.
"The hard part was choosing where I would sing a solo," he says. "How dare I mute Judy Garland! I really couldn't do it for Dusty Springfield. I just ended up harmonizing."
Fans will get to see this work on the current tour, as Manilow has created special videos that allow him to do his duets with Whitney Houston, Judy Garland and John Denver onstage.
Most nights, though, he's been doing Houston's "I Believe in You and Me." "It's just beyond," Manilow says of the new version. "It's the most gorgeous record that I've ever made."
He may do something special, though, when he plays Barclays Center, which will be his first concert ever in Brooklyn.
"I'll be ending where I began -- and on my birthday, no less," says Manilow, who grew up in Williamsburg. "I rehearsed for my first show in some dump in Brooklyn and the end of this tour will be at the Barclays Center. It's the perfect place to end."
WHO Barry Manilow
WHEN|WHERE 7:30 p.m. March 27, Nassau Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Tpke., Uniondale; also, June 17, Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
INFO $14.75-$244.75; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com