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Official Review [Single]: 21. "GOOFUS"/"BOAT TO SAIL" (1859-S)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, May 4, 2017.

Which side is your favorite?

  1. Side A: "Goofus"

    11 vote(s)
    32.4%
  2. Side B: "Boat To Sail"

    23 vote(s)
    67.6%
  1. People today have 20/20 hindsight when they dismiss "Goofus" as an awful choice for a single - it turned out to be true - it WAS an awful choice since it stiffed on the charts, and they were looking for hit singles.

    Carpenters had, at that time, recently come off of having a monster hit with an oldie, "Please Mr. Postman". Then they had a #4 hit with their own song "Only Yesterday", still riding high in the hit parade. A bit of a fall-off occurred with "Solitaire" clocking it at #17, but still top 20. Next came "There's A Kind Of Hush" which got them a little higher at #12 - so it appeared that the oldies were still popular. Then in this string, they release "I Need To Be In Love", another slower plodding song like "Solitaire" and again the public didn't grab onto it as well, as it only got to #25, their first ever single out of the top 20 (besides the initial "Ticket To Ride").

    So, the Carpenters and the label are faced with what to choose for the third single from HUSH. The choices are:

    You
    Sandy
    Goofus
    Can't Smile Without You
    One More Time
    Boat To Sail
    I Have You
    Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

    The probably logical choice for the next single from this bunch might've been "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do". It's uptempo, the oldies thing had been working for them, but it's got the Neil Sedaka connection and after their falling out with him, it's out.

    Then there's "Can't Smile Without You" or "Goofus" that have any semblance of uptempo-ness about them. The safer choice was probably "Can't Smile Without You" but they picked "Goofus". It was probably a gut choice - the song had been around forever but was largely forgotten - Carpenters had butted against the tide before and had big hits - it was a song they likely both liked from Dad's eclectic record collection, sort of in the Spike Jones vain. So they went with it. Yes, it turned out to be a mistake as the public didn't go for it at all, but then again, it probably also didn't see much radio airplay. I can't recall ever hearing it on my softer stations, and the big hit stations didn't touch it.

    Would the record have gotten more airplay if it didn't have such a silly title? I'm pretty sure that "Can't Smile Without You" would have fared a bit better, and we know that that record DID get a single remix and then was relegated to a b-side later on, after Barry Manilow had a hit with it.

    So I feel that "Goofus" was a bold, gut choice, and it failed. It's still a fun track in my book.
     
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  2. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    'You' could have been enhanced with a disco beat as Frankie Valli did with Our Day Will Come. Maybe not full out disco but a little more rhythm and blues and more vocal harmony.
     
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  3. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Maybe "Disco Goofus"? Wow, I'm glad nobody can see my expression right now! :) Then again, considering some of the other disco things that scored during that era ("Disco Duck", anyone?) why not...Rita Coolidge had a disco-tinged single named "You"...

    I agree with Harry -- easy to fault the choice with hindsight, but at the time, it seemed worth a shot. The adult contemporary station in my market gave it heavy airplay. And I always liked Cubby's drumming on the track. Still do.
     
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  4. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    Would "Goofus" have done better if it had been marketed to Country radio? I think it would have. The song has this whole rural vibe about it... "I was born on a farm down in Iowa"... "Corn fed chords appeal to me, I like rustic harmony". I can imagine them performing it on Hee Haw and The Grand Ole Opry - Karen in a gingham dress, Richard in overalls. Boots Randolph would have played the saxophone. Novelty songs were a country staple at that time. My dad had a K-Tel record called "Kooky Country", which was loaded with them.
     
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  5. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Another thing that bugs me about the song is the way Karen pronounces the word "Iowa". She sings it like "alleyway" instead of ending on a hard "a" as in "coda". As far as I know, it's never been called "Ioway".

    How to pronounce Iowa - Pronunciation of Iowa
     
  6. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Active Member

    I don't know if this is completely true. The poor performance of 'Goofus' as a single certainly doesn't help its cause, but I suspect the bigger factor is whether you like it a song as distinct from as a single choice. I've never liked it and on first hearing it didn't know it had been picked as a single. If, as you say, you think it's a fun song, then you can justify the single release as a bit of a brave curveball. If, on the other hand, you think it's a stinker of a track to begin with, then releasing it as a single is going to seem like a chart disaster waiting to happen.

    'Goofus' isn't alone in getting flack as a 'strange' single choice - a lot of fans don't seem that fond of 'Calling Occupants', for instance. I can see why some might not care for 'Occupants', but the difference between the two is that, despite its 'frivolous' subject matter and melodramatic production, 'Occupants' is delivered completely sincerely by Richard and Karen, which works just fine for me. Also, at least it was vaguely 'on trend' at the time, given the release of Star Wars. On 'Goofus', on the other hand, you're dredging up a pre-pop song from 1930, and it just all sounds too 'novelty' and like they're hamming it up - it's a bit like a musical version of the cheesy skits in their TV specials.

    The bigger problem, as Harry alludes to in his post, is that they were very short of single options on A Kind of Hush, which just emphasises one of the big weaknesses of the album. Whereas with Horizon there were at least another two or three tracks that could have been singles (although personally I wouldn't have picked 'Solitaire'), on Hush, after the first two singles, there's not a lot of potential. 'Can't Smile Without You' probably was the best choice left of a bad bunch, but I don't think it would have been a big hit (although the brighter remixed version might have gained more traction than the rather flat album version).
     
  7. That's the official lyrics to the song. It was written to be pronounced Ioway in order to rhyme with the next lines "away". By the way, the Iowa Indians sometimes referred to themselves as Ioway, so the pronunciation is a cutesy throwback.
     
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  8. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I think that's part of the problem with the album - the whole thing sounds flat, dull and uninspired.
     
  9. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    All through this thread is that the songs were dull and missed rhythm. Maybe the songs were too dull for rhythm, but then Barry Manilow showed differently adding his signature 'ump bah beat' to almost all of his songs in the time period. From Tryin to Get The Feeling to Daybreak and we hear the same in I Can't Smile Without You. To me, Richard gave them a more melodic piano flow type feeling. I have no idea if this his intent, it just sounds that way and as Carpenters fans it's fine. As outsiders, it's not but it seemed nothing would bring them back except another song with a saxophone in the middle? I loved Calling Occupants as a child but hate it now. Yet it was successful worldwide, and radio stations refused to play it here siteing a Klatoo ripoff yet Klatoo loved it and probably the money they made from it. It's definitely a mixed bag, but I knew at 17 that Goofus was not single worthy. A friend told me it was, and I said 'no way' and the next Billboard I could find it was not on it so it was not until around 1989 or so maybe even 1991 that it was a single. I was moderately excited when it was sung by the Lawrence Welk Singers that season on their TV Show after 'A Kind Of Hush' was released. The sound was new in 1970, it by 1976, really by 1974, more was expected from this talented young group. The Eagles molded, Paul McCartney was always different, but the Carpenters were the same, except for Passage which was needed release a year earlier instead of Hush. Hush molded them into Easy Listening land in the minds of most everyone. So, most people never heard Passage. When I would play friends songs from Passage, they would reply that they never knew the Carpenters could do that! Even B'wans She No Home had the sax in the middle that would have fit radio with a shortened version. Why a single? Because no one bought the album. People had no idea what was in it. When you think about the instrumentalists that played on Passage alone, there should have been a party a hype just for that alone. In 1977, I was hoping for it to be the single release so people would be attracted to the album. They were still loved for their older songs and they already had those records. They needed to hear something 'new' to purchase more of the same artist. I am glad for their management at that time or we would not have those treasured songs from the TV specials today. I like Easy Listening, so I always liked them. I just wanted others too see what I saw. They had the songs all along. They were just not in the 'single land'. I would have loved to have seen them in Vegas! Besides, it removed them from the Disco New York Studio 54 land. And Country songs were nice for a visit but it was the slow, velvet ballads that Karen performed with delicate precision. Even listening to the vocal agility in the Zodiac medley from Make Your Own Kind Of Music, with just Richard at the piano and Karen singing is something to behold. I will always feel it was their declining health that silenced them for awhile, as it is for most of us in whatever career we choose.
     
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  10. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member



    Iowa or Ioway?
     
    Brian likes this.
  11. Brian

    Brian Active Member

    [QUOTE="CraigGA, post: 162525, member: 126"
    Calling Occupants was successful worldwide, and radio stations refused to play it here. Hush molded them into Easy Listening land. So, most people never heard Passage. [/QUOTE]

    'Passage' was quite a big hit in Australia. However, like the single, it peaked in different states at different times, so its overall national chart rating wasn't that high. In South Australia, where I live, it neared the Top 10 and I think it was a similar story in other states. Similarly, 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' was Top 5 in some states, but at different times, leading it to show at only Number 13 nationally, (or Number 10, depending upon which chart you go by).

    A lot of people seemed to own 'Passage'. The single and the album were different enough and cool enough to bring The Carpenters back into public favour. They'd had a couple of quiet years since 'Please Mr. Postman' and 'Only Yesterday'. On the strength of the 'Passage' album and single, a tour of Australia was even mentioned in rock music magazines for the end of 1977, (November), but never eventuated.

    The album 'A Kind of Hush', by comparison, did not do much in Australia. The single 'I Need to Be In Love' made little impact and 'Goofus' made no impact. I think the single 'A Kind of Hush' was a little more successful but still not a big hit.

    The Carpenters' next big thing in this country after 'Passage' and 'Calling Occupants' was 'Very Best of The Carpenters', which hit Number One nationally at the beginning of 1983, the week before Karen died, (oddly enough. So The Carpenters were Number One somewhere in the world the day she died).

    It might be thought that record sales in Australia might be too insignificant to make an impression on an artist, but in 1976, 'The Best of ABBA' sold over a million copies. (I was one of the few who didn't own a copy). Ten years later, 'Whispering Jack', by John Farnham, sold over a million. More typically, though, hugely successful albums might sell between 200,000 and 300,000.

    This might all seem off topic, but I guess what I'm saying is that after the album 'A Kind of Hush' and singles like 'Goofus', Karen and Richard came up with a slight change of direction that did work in changing their fortunes back around in some territories.

    As I've said before, I personally loved the album 'A Kind of Hush' and the song 'Goofus' at the time they were released. Now, if I were to choose between listening to 'Passage' and 'A Kind of Hush', I would probably choose 'A Kind of Hush' because it's more cohesive and it has more of a nostalgic pull for me, having been probably my favourite out of the two when I was a child. On 'Passage', I don't like 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter' at all, I don't really like the long version of 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft', (TOO long), although I still like the single, (used to LOVE it), and I've never been that fond of 'B'wanna She No Home', 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina' or 'Sweet, Sweet Smile'. I could sit through the album 'A Kind of Hush' quite comfortably, although probably wouldn't seek it out amongst my collection nowadays, (and have seldom done so over the last many years). The only songs from it that still hold enough interest for me to look for would be 'I Need to Be In Love', 'You', 'Goofus', 'One More Time', 'Can't Smile Without You' and MAYBE 'Boat to Sail'.

    So, yes, I still do like 'Goofus', after all these years.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  12. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Brian! I love your story. I wish Passage sold that well here in the US and had that impact! It's my fourth favorite album. If it had two more songs it might have even placed higher in my personal favorite land. It's funny, after all these years, I think I heard once that the Christmas Album is what people remember most. I remember every turn for in 1975 there was not an available internet. We had to dig for information, and it took years, not just a click. Billboard and others like it were always a good source. People magazine was another. The Rolling Stones had the cover story in July '74 and several teen magazines had favorite tidbits.
     
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  13. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    'Passage' was quite a big hit in Australia. However, like the single, it peaked in different states at different times, so its overall national chart rating wasn't that high. In South Australia, where I live, it neared the Top 10 and I think it was a similar story in other states. Similarly, 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' was Top 5 in some states, but at different times, leading it to show at only Number 13 nationally, (or Number 10, depending upon which chart you go by).[/quote]

    You sure about that? I know that Wikipedia is not the best place to look, but just a quick look on there has "Passage" charting at 48 in Australia, #12 in the UK, and hitting #7 in Japan.

    Again, this is odd, as apparently (according to Wiki) AKOH hit #3 in the UK so it's surprising that "Goofus" wasn't released there, as it might've actually gone further. Although, I guess we are looking at things all wrong, as Goofus did hit #4 on the US AC chart (which, coincidentally, is also where their next single, All You Get From Love Is A Love Song would peak on the AC chart), so in the US it was a Top 10 hit on one chart.
     
  14. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Active Member

    Chart positions don't always tell the full story though. Although A Kind of Hush made #3 in the UK, it only spent 15 weeks on the chart, so wasn't a long-term seller. The same was true of Passage and Made in America, both making #12 but only spending 10 weeks or so on the chart each. Their biggest selling studio album post-Horizon in the UK was Voice of the Heart. 'Goofus' did get released as a single in Germany, but I'm sure it would have bombed in the UK.

    I know people like to quote it often on here because of the Carpenters' good record on it, but the US AC chart positions should be approached with caution as providing any proof of a song's popularity. As I understand it, it wasn't a 'separate' chart in the way that the R&B chart was at times (that is, showing evidence of a song selling well in certain markets even if it wasn't appearing or doing well on the Hot 100), as it was basically the Hot 100 with any songs that weren't considered 'adult contemporary' omitted from it. Even in that specific context, the performance of 'Goofus' was relatively poor, being their first A-side not to make #1 or #2 on the AC chart since 'Ticket to Ride'.
     
  15. Brian

    Brian Active Member

    Yes, I am sure that 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' was Top 5 in South Australia. It was also big in most other states, but, as I said in my post, it peaked at different times in different places, so the national peak of 13 probably doesn't really indicate its true level of popularity.

    I am also sure that 'Passage' was Top 20 in South Australia- closer to the Top 10, I'm fairly certain, although I don't have the charts to refer to just at the moment. The 'A Kind of Hush' album didn't reach the Top 50.

    tomswift2002, I just realised that you might be getting the state of South Australia mixed up with the country of Australia. South Australia is a state of Australia, just as Iowa is a state of the USA. :) I still have the South Australian charts that I collected around 1977 - 78, showing the Top 5 peak of 'Calling Occupants' and the Top 20 peak of 'Passage' and can remember from the excitement of the times. :) I can remember as though it were yesterday.
     
  16. Brian

    Brian Active Member

    I just found the old Top 40 charts that I collected as a teenager. On the weekly Top 40 chart for the state of South Australia for the week Friday January 27th 1978 to Thursday 2nd of February 1978, "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" was Number 5 and the album, "Passage", was Number 17. And as I'm writing this, I just found another chart. On the Top 40 for Friday 13th January 1978 to Thursday 19th of January 1978, "Calling Occupants" was Number 5 and "Passage" was Number 11. That suggests that the single was Top 5 for at least three weeks. Somewhere, I also have the New South Wales charts, on which the two records were also successful, the single at least Top 10, from memory- maybe Top 5 as well. "Calling Occupants" spent 29 weeks on the Australian charts, (that's seven months, folks), because it was very popular and also because it peaked high in different states at different times. It was the same story with "Passage". That spent 18 weeks on the Australian charts. That's the number of weeks these records spent on the national Top 100, though, not the Top 40. This information is relevant for this thread because I was saying that soon after 'Goofus', Karen and Richard changed their fortunes around in some territories through a change of musical direction.
     
  17. adam

    adam Active Member

    'Passage' was quite a big hit in Australia. However, like the single, it peaked in different states at different times, so its overall national chart rating wasn't that high. In South Australia, where I live, it neared the Top 10 and I think it was a similar story in other states. Similarly, 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' was Top 5 in some states, but at different times, leading it to show at only Number 13 nationally, (or Number 10, depending upon which chart you go by).

    A lot of people seemed to own 'Passage'. The single and the album were different enough and cool enough to bring The Carpenters back into public favour. They'd had a couple of quiet years since 'Please Mr. Postman' and 'Only Yesterday'. On the strength of the 'Passage' album and single, a tour of Australia was even mentioned in rock music magazines for the end of 1977, (November), but never eventuated.

    The album 'A Kind of Hush', by comparison, did not do much in Australia. The single 'I Need to Be In Love' made little impact and 'Goofus' made no impact. I think the single 'A Kind of Hush' was a little more successful but still not a big hit.

    The Carpenters' next big thing in this country after 'Passage' and 'Calling Occupants' was 'Very Best of The Carpenters', which hit Number One nationally at the beginning of 1983, the week before Karen died, (oddly enough. So The Carpenters were Number One somewhere in the world the day she died).

    It might be thought that record sales in Australia might be too insignificant to make an impression on an artist, but in 1976, 'The Best of ABBA' sold over a million copies. (I was one of the few who didn't own a copy). Ten years later, 'Whispering Jack', by John Farnham, sold over a million. More typically, though, hugely successful albums might sell between 200,000 and 300,000.

    This might all seem off topic, but I guess what I'm saying is that after the album 'A Kind of Hush' and singles like 'Goofus', Karen and Richard came up with a slight change of direction that did work in changing their fortunes back around in some territories.

    As I've said before, I personally loved the album 'A Kind of Hush' and the song 'Goofus' at the time they were released. Now, if I were to choose between listening to 'Passage' and 'A Kind of Hush', I would probably choose 'A Kind of Hush' because it's more cohesive and it has more of a nostalgic pull for me, having been probably my favourite out of the two when I was a child. On 'Passage', I don't like 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter' at all, I don't really like the long version of 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft', (TOO long), although I still like the single, (used to LOVE it), and I've never been that fond of 'B'wanna She No Home', 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina' or 'Sweet, Sweet Smile'. I could sit through the album 'A Kind of Hush' quite comfortably, although probably wouldn't seek it out amongst my collection nowadays, (and have seldom done so over the last many years). The only songs from it that still hold enough interest for me to look for would be 'I Need to Be In Love', 'You', 'Goofus', 'One More Time', 'Can't Smile Without You' and MAYBE 'Boat to Sail'.

    So, yes, I still do like 'Goofus', after all these years.[/QUOTE]
    Hi Brian
    Just to mention.A kind of Hush Album was lowest charting Album Carpenters had in Australia in the 1970s it only peaked at no 57 .Probably their worst selling Album there as well.
    Single .Theres a kind of hush peaked at no 33

    I need to be in love .peaked at no 48
     
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  18. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    That's a really interesting fact, I didn't know that.
     
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  19. So true, Craig, so true! I remember combing through the periodicals on the newsstands looking for even the smallest tidbit of information about my beloved Carpenters. When that cover of that People hit the stands (1976?), I about hyperventilated! How the world has changed...but great music has not! :righton:
     
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  20. Brian

    Brian Active Member

    Has anybody ever noticed that a slightly different mix of 'Boat to Sail' is used on CDs, as compared to the version on the original vinyl albums? The most obvious section is the short drum burst just before the instrumental break and the 'Do, do, do, do, do -ahs'.
    Btw, 'Goofus' is still ahead of 'Boat to Sail' in my (log) book.
     
  21. Nope.
     
  22. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I'd love a remix of BTS. I can get lost in those incredible vocals.
     
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  23. Brian

    Brian Active Member

    Really? I wonder whether the Australian pressing of the vinyl was slightly different. But before you all jump on eBay and buy expensive copies of the vinyl, I should say that the only difference in the entire album that I noticed was that short, two-second drum fill in 'Boat to Sail'. I was just looking for my vinyl so I could listen again, (if it's not totally worn away), but I lent it to someone a couple of years ago..... I'll find it sometime soon, I hope. It's funny that artists sometimes release different product in Australia when it's such a small market. The Captain and Tennille, for example, released the single, "Feels Like More than Dancing" and the album, "More than Dancing", here in about 1981, whereas they didn't release it elsewhere, as far as I understand. I've heard of other artists doing similar things, too. (We also got 'Great Hits of the Carpenters' and 'Great Hits of the Carpenters Vol 2, 1969 - 1973', instead of 'The Singles').
     
  24. Brian

    Brian Active Member

    Just found my vinyl. That short drum fill in 'Boat to Sail' is definitely different on the Aussie vinyl of the 'A Kind of Hush' album, as compared to the US 1986 pressing of the CD. On the vinyl, there are four definite beats on the tom-toms descending in pitch, whereas the CD has one medium-pitched tom-tom hit, a bass drum hit and then two bass drum beats combined with two strong, low drum sounds. Very different. I guess the Aussie and US, (and UK....Japanese, etc), vinyls are the same (?). In any case, this suggests a slightly different mix of 'Boat to Sail' between vinyl and CD. Mind you, as I said, the only difference I've noticed is in that short drum fill. I'll listen more closely sometime, when I've got time, and see if there are other changes. Btw, it's a bit sad that we're discussing a difference in two seconds of drums when it would be nice if we could be discussing complete newly- released songs. :)
     
  25. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Sometimes it also depends on the record company as well. Just look at the Beatles catalogue. The first 7 albums that the Beatles recorded and released in the UK by EMI were chopped up and issued over 11 different albums in the US by Capitoal, including the infamous "Butcher" Yesterday And Today album that had tracks from the UK Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver & the Doulbe-A side single Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out.

    And I've got both the American and UK version of the Beach Boys Endless Summer LP, and while the track list is the same, in the US the album was released as a 2-LP set in gatefold with artwork depicting a montage of beach scenes, whereas the UK version features a group photo, and just 1 record (so instead of the US version where you had sides 1 & 4 on one LP, and 2 & 3 on the other, in the UK the US sides 1 & 2 made up side 1, with the US sides 3 & 4 making up the UK side 2.)

    And don't forget, but even with the Carpenters we saw the execs at A&M Japan issue Top Of The World as a single before Richard and Karen the American A&M had okayed it.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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