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A Song for You Revisited

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Mark-T, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Hello friends. As you know I have been taking a "Fresh Look" at the Carpenters albums one at a time. I am now up to A Song for You. The very lengthy article will be posted February 4 on my blog. It took a year. It's imperfect like its author, but it's done. :). Thank God!

    A decade ago, I went through each album one at a time. Things changed, I've changed, and as we get closer to celebrating the 50th year of A&M signing the Carpenters, I'm even more appreciative of their work and the impact its had on my life.
  2. AnnaSock

    AnnaSock Active Member

    Looking forward to reading your blog post, Mark :)

    I was actually listening to A Song for You last week for the first time in a while. It’ll be interesting to hear your thoughts.
    Mark-T and Jamesj75 like this.
  3. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    I was on a plane recently coming home to Chicago and listened to ‘A Song For You’ in its entirety. It’s the first time I’d played it from start to finish in quite a while, and it blew me away. It sounds just as good today as it did hearing it for the first time on my 10th Birthday in July of 1972.
    goodjeans, CraigGA and Jamesj75 like this.
  4. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    ^^^ I Agee. Although I've listened to it so much in the last year that I kin of need a break from it for awhile. :wink:
  5. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member

    I think that the only thing that drags it down are Richard's fillers. And I tend to prefer the Bless the Beasts and Road Ode remixes
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I love listening to the album from beginning to end (especially vinyl).
    There are some great songs (both leads and background harmonies, plus overall arrangement):
    A Song For You, Hurting Each Other, Goodbye To Love,
    Bless The Beasts, I Won't Last A Day Without You, Crystal Lullaby
    I delight in Intermission. How utterly brilliant.
    Top Of The World, as here presented, is my favorite version.
    The conclusion, the reprise, is a fitting conclusion.
    The album is quite well-structured.
    Geographer likes this.
  7. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Actually, I'd argue that its structure is rather problematic. The bookending on both sides is quite nice, but Side 1 is completely singles-heavy, which makes Side 2 seem rather uneven in comparison, particularly when it has two filler tracks, 'Flat Baroque' and 'Piano Picker', sequenced next to each other. That's really what lets it down as an album, even though there are a lot of excellent tracks on there. The Tan album for example is better sequenced as it spreads out the Richard vocal songs and the very slow ballads so that they don't bog down the flow.
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Very interesting to read ! As always !
    What is really interesting is that I consider the Tan album to be the
    worst representation of an "album" in the duo's entire catalogue !
    I love how we have our various differences !
  9. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    While on the topic of re-visiting things (and, I confess I had forgotten about it),
    I unearthed my audio-file of the Carpenters' 1967 version of
    Flat Baroque (RCA recording).
    I must say, it is awesome !
    (For but one difference, it is slowed in tempo).
    Again, I much prefer it to the polished version found on LP A Song For You.
  10. It's definitely one of their best but I find myself listening to it as seperate tracks remixed on compilations, I haven't sat down to listen to it in a while. I'm not sure why I prefer the newer mixes to the originals. Is it because I'm young and they have a newer sound? That would explain why I tend to listen to compilations and the albums including and after "Now & Then". I rarely listen to the first album.
  11. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Much like the various remix work, I've been tinkering with my review of A Song for You. It's not perfect- but its honest. I'll post it Monday. I help you all enjoy it.
  12. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Well I'd have to disagree a bit here. First of all, when the album was released there was only one single in the marketplace ("Hurting Each Other"). It was only after the album had been out a long time that side one became singles-heavy. If you listen to the John Bettis interviews with Chris May, I don't think they were planning for "Goodbye to Love" to ever be a single, and Richard himself has said they never expected "It's Going to Take Some Time This Time" to be a single. (They should have released "I Won't Last a Day Without You" in that time-frame.)

    I rather like the two Richard-centric songs next to each other on side two - the first one shows what he can do by "bangin' on the keys" and then up comes the vocal which explains his life story in a nutshell. Then it's back to more classic Karen vocals to close out the album. It's a lot like a concert, where the lead singer takes a break for a few minutes.

    All that said....back in the two-sided album days, it was common practice for artists to load up Side One of an album with the hits and relegate the less-strong material to Side Two. Often they would lead-off Side Two with a hit (or a song they hoped would be a hit), but after that it was B-side-city in a lot of cases.

    You could make a pretty long list of albums that have most of their hits on Side One. In fact most of the major Carpenters hits either came from Side One, or were the leadoff track from Side Two. The only exceptions that dwell deeper in Side Two are "Touch Me When We're Dancing" and "I Won't Last A Day Without You." (You could add "Calling Occupants" as another side-two dweller but it wasn't exactly a smash hit.)

    I'm with GaryAlan on this one....I find A Song For You to be a much better listen as an album than the tan album. It's more refined and shows the duo at the top of their game when they were literally willing to have fun and stretch out. It is interesting how different people have different feelings about the same work of art.
    GaryAlan, newvillefan and Murray like this.
  13. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member

    Do you think the tan album tracks sound better when heard individually or just that the ASFY ones are just altogether better songs/arrangements? I know that some fans aren't too wild about TTA because it's less experimental than the albums before and after it, with lots of strings, oboes, and more classically arranged songs. Album cuts like Hideaway and One Love, which might be too sweet for some, are for me exquisitely shaded, rich and warm. Not the most original arrangements they did but still tasteful and very fresh (especially when compared to some later ballads) while perfectly framing Karen's voice.
  14. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    The review for A Song for You is up on the site. It's long- be forewarned.
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Lengthy, indeed, but well-worth the read ! Thanks.

    Intermission...has always struck me as brilliance !
    It truly accentuates those Carpenters' harmonies.
    KentTeffeteller and Mark-T like this.
  16. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member

    Great piece, Mark! I love when fans can look at a piece of work honestly and critically without just forcing themselves to think a certain way, with a certain gloss, because they're fans.

    Since getting into them in late 2011, and being a millenial, I've always heard them on my iPod more than I ever have sat and heard an LP of theirs in one sitting. I have before, but much more often I've heard individually tracks jumbled around sequentially if I want to set aside time to hear them. Just whatever song fits my mood at the moment. But I will say that ASFY really does flow as one of the best complete albums they've made.

    I think partially what makes the MP3 route more appealing to is that, aside from the intimacy of hearing Karen with earbuds, I much prefer some remixes to the original cuts which sound flat in comparison. And this goes for any album of theirs up until CP. Sometimes I vastly prefer the original mix because everything works perfectly, but sometimes the changes bring a fresh emotional dimension to a song.

    Here, the three main songs that I feel really benefit from a remix are Crystal Lullaby (it's dark moodiness is sharpened and you know, "tumtimes" is fixed); Road Ode which positively glistens with some beef added to it, transforming into something so vigorous that you hate that so many won't hear the song's full potential; and IWLADWY sounds much richer/fuller on the 2000(?) mix and has the added resonance of Richard's haunting postlude on the piano which makes it feel much more complete. And I think the detachment you might hear from her vocal is from her voice needlessly being doubled and taking away from the immediacy of her single voice.

    But generally the mixes on ASFY are otherwise my preferred cuts, although I do have love for the BTBATC remix (forget which one) because it gives it more strength but also tends to drown out the feeling of Karen's lead on the chorus.
    Don Malcolm and Mark-T like this.
  17. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Thank you both, for all the feedback. It's great to hear what you both think as you listen. My guess is you represent both older fans and relatively newer ones. Always an adventure to listen with fresh ears! :)
    Jarred likes this.
  18. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up Mark!:righton::righton:
    Mark-T likes this.
  19. Song4uman

    Song4uman Well-Known Member

    @Mark-T can you post the link to your blog?
  20. Song4uman

    Song4uman Well-Known Member

  21. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Oops, sorry! Thanks to Shalom Bresticker.
    Song4uman likes this.
  22. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Nice job, Mark. And thank you for the heads-up - and the dedication. Much appreciated.
    Mark-T likes this.
  23. Song4uman

    Song4uman Well-Known Member

    Mark. Thanks for the shout out and the tag to my site!!
  24. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    You bet, Jonathan!

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