Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by adam, Mar 8, 2015.
Right on, man.
I also think the old adage also can be applied here: "You don't know what you got until it's gone"....
Perhaps some foresight that the CD was
The Singles 1969-1981 ,
another year-- a '2' -- in the titled-dates,
and BEchwood 4-5789 would be included
on the compilation. (?)
Of course, the first of these three is (IMHO)
brilliant, and still only managed as high as it did !
1969 Ticket To Ride #54
1976 Goofus #56
1982 BEechwood #74
To my ears, Beechwood made the most sense as a single. Goofus is just an odd choice. Title's bad and it's more musically complex. Beechwood is hooky and fun.
And, at that, from 1930:
"Goofus" is just so Hee-Haw and silly. If they were doing an album for toddlers, it would have been perfect.
Well, the song
Ordinary Fool, as quoted--in 1983--by Richard Carpenter,
was "misplaced" in the A&M Tape Library. Also, Karen Carpenter
less than thrilled with the recording.
It being recorded, too, during the Kind of Hush LP Sessions.
I'm trying to track down any source where Karen comments on Goofus.
"I now feel I was not at my best, and am not pleased with some of the material chosen,
such as Goofus, and Breaking Up Is Hard To Do."
" With Goofus, I thought that might do something and it never really caught on.
I was kinda disappointed because it's such a good song. It's a fun kinda thing, you know?"
"I really love it."
(Page 183, Yesterday Once More Reader--Charlie Tuna 1976 Interview)
'Goofus' is sorta cute, but it ain't a single! 'Beechwood' was a better choice to my ears, but, again, it wasn't the right time for a recording like that....either stylistically or career-wise. But I do enjoy it as an album track.
Hate to disagree with you Miss C!
Even before it's release as a single, I skipped that one frequently when playing the album.... It's a mess. And right there in the heart of "dancing fever" we have a beat that you just can't grab on a dance floor - period. Why they didn't release YOU is beyond me... but that's another thread!
As for Beachwood, that album was finished. When Want You Back In My Life Again didn't do it... it was time to move on.
Geesh - I seem harsh here... You know I love this group - and even their lowest ranked tunes are far superior to most of the other stuff on the radio then and now!
Well, Someone took a liking to BEechwood 4-5789.......
Here is the 1984 Set List for the first Vinyl Yesterday Once More
Compilation (A&M, Silver Eagle Distribution),
Yes , BEechwood 4-5789...
First LP Side One:
Yesterday Once More, Superstar, Rainy Days and Mondays, Goodbye to Love, It's Going to Take Some Time, BEechwood.
Back In My Life Again, Ticket to Ride, Sweet Sweet Smile, I Won't Last A Day, For All We Know, Touch Me When We're Dancing.
Hurting Each Other, Please Mr. Postman, I Need To Be In Love , All You Get From Love, Only Yesterday, This Masquerade.
Top of The World, Because We Are In Love, We've Only Just Begun, Those Good Old Dreams, Sing, Close To You.
Statistics to Ponder:
Total of 24 Songs:
7 are Richard Carpenter Compositions
14 of the songs have the credit Richard Carpenter Producer
(10 of these RC only , 3 K&R, 1 credits all three--K&R/JD).
10 credit Only Jack Daugherty as Producer
All Arrangements Richard Carpenter
14 are copyright 1973 and earlier ( Most of the 'Big Hits ')
5 copyrighted 1981 (Made In America songs)
2 copyright 1975 ne for 1976, 2 for 1977
2 USA Biggest hits are on the Final Side.
5 songs taken from Made In America,
5 from Song for You
3 from Now & Then
3 from Carpenters
2 from Passage
2 from Horizon
2 from Close To You
1 from Hush album
1 from Ticket to Ride (though, the later incarnation)
I want to mention in a separate post that I DO like the song Goofus, the music, Karen's vocal, except for one thing: the title Goofus and it's use throughout the lyrics. I did a little bit of homework and see that the song was written in 1930 so maybe it is one of those "you had to be there" things.
If the Title had been anything else but Goofus, like I'm old fashioned, Unusual (worked for Cyndi Lauper). Goofus gives the song that "Aw, shucks," corniness and maybe it was meant to be that way in 1930. Maybe it comes down to Goofus sounding like doofus.
And by the way, I didn't know that Dorkus (spelled Dorcas) was a real name until I met a girl named Dorcas. Obviously, I didn't retain much from my Sunday school lessons.
I think Randy is pretty much spot-on with his rationale as to why "Goofus" is looked so far down on. It's an odd word that's repeated in the lyrics as well as being the title, so it's an immediate turn-off. It seem to me that many Carpenters fans are focused on lyrics to songs which puts this song in quick jeopardy - similar to what would happen if they'd sung "Muskrat Love".
Personally, I'm a little more like Herb Alpert. I like a song for its melodic structure, its harmonies and tempos. Words almost never occur to me as being important - they are simply mechanical syllables with which to sing the song.
Even if Karen was singing "ahs" instead of words, the song would be for toddlers or Spike Jones' enthusiasts. The music is 1930's goofy in 1976 that was sandwiched between the breezy "Sandy" and the wistful "I Can't Smile..." It was almost like "Goofus" was supposed to have the magic of "Postman" in the line-up from Horizon. Richard's hindsight is dead-on about this song. Hee-Haw!!!
The lyrics actually define "Goofus" in an abstract way:
Cornfed chords appeal to me
I like rustic harmony
Hold a note and change the key
Hey but that's "Goofus"
Not according to the rules
That you learn in music schools
But the folks just dance like fools
They sure go for "Goofus"
I honestly believe that if this song had any other title but "Goofus," it might have fared better in the public's mindset. The title itself provokes a sort of "Hee Haw" reaction. (And yes, I know the title is part of the song lyrics.) It catered to a growing PR undermining of Karen and Richard. There seemed to be a deliberate intent by critics and broadcasters to find any excuse not to take them seriously ... and "Goofus" was just more fodder for that mentality.
But if we actually listen to the song, it's quite good. Karen's vocal and Richard's arrangement are wonderful. There's a punchy attack that Karen gives the lyrics, similar to what she did with "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)." The quirky arrangement is a genuine challenge for the musicians performing it. And it sounds like something they all had fun with ... which of course is probably what people in the business were telling them: "Give us something that shows you don't take yourselves so seriously!" Was it a great choice as a single? Probably not. But the failure of "Goofus" as a single speaks, I think, more to their declining popularity. I think they would have had to completely reinvent themselves, at this point, to make a mark. And attempts to reinvent one's musical style and image carry their own risks.
At the end of the day, the critics only react to what an artist puts out. This was included by the album's producer as an album track and then released as a single (who knows made that call). It was not the type of song they should have been releasing after 6 years of (pretty much) smash records.
Stephen, I agree with you ... but I also disagree just a smidge. The best critics do exactly what you describe. But I think there are others who, besides critiquing what's right there in front of them, also subscribe to whatever qualifies as "cool" and allow that to influence their reviews. There was a growing groundswell of "uncool" associated with Karen and Richard, and I do believe some (though not all) critics allowed that perception to color their reviews. That's what I mean about "Goofus" just adding more fuel to the fire.
They had set the bar high for themselves indeed. Karen's voice was always wonderful and recognizable, but people largely didn't recognize how much Richard contributed to their sound by his compositions and arrangements - until he didn't. For instance Richard has remarked that the main reason for the "Now and Then" oldies medley was that they didn't have time to come up with original material. Since 50's oldies were so popular in the 70's, and they loved them as well, it was a good way to fill that void. I think perhaps when a song seems out of place it isn't always a well thought out deliberate choice. It's maybe a "hey that's different and we need another song to complete the album" kind of choice. Also, K&R as we have read, sometimes differed on song choices, so some songs could have been included as a compromise. Who knows? I'm sure at this point it's not foremost in even Richard's mind.
I wonder if there wasn't just a little bit of ego associated with choice of "Goofus". Carpenters had just done a relatively unthinkable task of taking an oldie ("Please Mr. Postman") to number one in the nation. Now here was this old, country, Spike-Jones-y thing, and I'm wondering if THEY wondered, "Gee, can we take this to hit status too? Are we that good?"
There might have been a little of that going on - who knows?
Part of the reason I enjoy Randy's Yesterday Once More reader is because you can go back and pull out these little tidbits that give us a window into what they were thinking at the time.
In the 1976 Charlie Tuna interview, "Karen Carpenter: Nothing to Hide Behind," Karen is asked about the nostalgia craze: When we went with "[Please Mr.] Postman," we didn't do that to get into the nostalgia thing. That was something Richard always wanted to cut, for some strange reason. He said, "I love 'Please Mr. Postman'." And I said, "What?" And it's a great song! It has got four chord changes, but what you can do with them. I had more fun cutting that record. With "Goofus," that's forty years old, you know. Gus Kahn wrote it. I thought that might do something and it never really caught on. I was kind of disappointed because it's such a good song. It's a fun kinda thing, you know?
Charlie Tuna then observes: I think since I have known you the past couple of years, you've always had that urge to do "Goofus."
Karen replies: I really love it. Like "I Can Dream, Can't I?" or something like that. There are so many things you can do. (She then talks about the Now & Then album.)
Now we know it was Karen's choice of a song! I forget about that resource at times. Those interviews are about the only way to "hear" from Karen as well as Richard, aside from anecdotes told by others. Would be interesting to know her hindsight views like have those from Richard.
On re listening to thesse 2 songs again i think Goofus is probably the worst song they released as a single.I mea the song not karens performance
Beechwood is the better of the two, and is even better than "Those Good Old Dreams".
I've been listening to the new Singles compilation lately and just got to "Goofus" last night. It's the first time I heard the song since I heard it on the original album.
That thing just rubs me wrong in every direction. I don't like the performance, the vocals or the song itself. If they were trying for another "Postman," f'get it..."Goofus" didn't have the hooks like "Postman" did. If they were trying for something cutesy, similar to "Piano Picker," well....it flops there too. And it also doesn't have that adventurous fell that so many of the early Carpenters "non-ballads" did. It sounds forced. It just sounds mechanical to me, like they were just flat out of ideas and said "Well, how about doing something REALLY old and see if that works?" and did the whole thing on autopilot.
So I don't know if it's their worst recording ever, but I would agree it's definitely their worst single -- to me at least. (And that's saying something because there are several of their later singles I don't like too much at all.)