Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Feb 4, 2013.
Yes Mike that was a great read...,have you been holding back on us all these years????
Great post, Mike. A definite reminder that timing is everything. Let's be sure to give Richard credit, however, for not only sensing the follow-up potential of "Begun" in the context of what had just happened, but also for bringing off an arrangement that sealed the deal. The tradeoff between "ballad" and "bounce" was IMO the key to cementing the C's sound in the minds and ears of the public, and the arrangement really is a masterstroke. But I think you are 100% on the money in suggesting that absent "Close to You" it would not have had the steam to reach the top of the charts.
Thanks for the compliments guys...I've been around here longer than almost everyone except for Rudy, Harry, the Captain, Steve and a couple others but I don't post as much as I'd like -- while I'm a big Carpenters fan, I'm not a completist like some of the members here are. My "expertise" (if you can call it that) runs more along the business side of things and the way the music relates to that. My favorite albums are the first five -- beyond that, I have favorite tunes from all of them but I think the early albums are the best.
This Wrecking Crew Video Promo , recalling Close To You, with Interviews with
Richard and Herb,
provides much information!
I wish there was a full-length documentary about these guys' recollections of working with the Carpenters. It would be amazing!
What's funny is, when I interviewed both Hal and Joe together on my radio show, the most they could actually recollect on the stuff they'd worked on together in total leaned heaviest toward Carpenters. The interview was edited down to 28:00 (we were doing radio mind you), however because it was pre-taped, we actually rolled closer to 46:00 minutes of tape. The idea initially was to make it an interview that encompassed a broad spectrum of their work. That said, even when it got to Carpenters, it was difficult for them to recall certain details.
Close To You, as quoted from the above Wrecking Crew Promo:
"....song is misleading to the uninitiated, anything but simple..."
"...Three different passes...first one Karen on drums..."
"...45 to 47 Takes, of course, they're all terrific."
"..Third time's a charm.....She said: 'Why don't you "push-it" on the ending, the third 'wah---', so we did. "
"...something missing 'in the groove'...suggested Hal Blaine on drums....for a while it was a little testy..."
Close To You...We've Only Just Begun single Promo Ad Billboard on Sep 5, 1970
Close To You Shure Ad Billboard Oct 17, 1970 (pretty cool to see them being used to promote product back then.
Lovely Petula Clark singing Close To You, pay close attention at 2:56 and 3:06, where she
pays homage to Karen.
As someone else mentioned, I too seemed to have gravitated towards the Carpenters' earlier material- and "Close to You" is among my favorites bar none. I don't need to say much; "(They Long to Be) Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun" are among my most-listened-to tracks and I cannot resist playing through the rest of it (except strangely enough, "Crescent Noon". I'm sorry to all you Noon fans out there, but that one hasn't stuck to me yet). "Begun" takes it to another, personal level - it was my parents' wedding song. My folks are separated now - in a playlist of Carpenters songs, that particular track is omitted (much to my dismay!). But when I quietly sneaked the song on my computer one night and listened, I admittedly sobbed; I understood why they chose it (a beautiful piece, no?) and with the innocent, vulnerable reading by Karen, I discovered a sort of... indescribable sadness. That's why it ranks among the top for me.
You older folks among the crowd might get a laugh out of this story, but another reason I love Close to You is in the way I obtained the physical album. In this day and age of digital downloads and what have you, I got quite a few strange looks when I said "I want to find Carpenters material on vinyl"! I could never figure how to go about such a proposition, but one day, my next-door neighbor was having a moving-away yard sale. I was perusing through some of the stuff when my younger brother yelled for me; I turned my head and in his hands high in the air was "Close to You". If eyes could sparkle like stars, that would be one of those moments. I will never forget holding that album in my hands with a big, stupid grin on my face. Priceless.
Welcome to the forum. It's always refreshing to find younger people here still discovering Carpenters music and loving it like some of us did when it was brand new.
How a Groundbreaking Bank Ad Reached an Elusive Demographic
by JOHN REOSTI
JUN 5, 2015
Bankers scratching their heads about how to attract millennials can take some comfort knowing that generations ago
their predecessors also struggled to connect with America's youth.
Crocker National Bank found a way, though.
At the tail end of the 1960s, Crocker was a venerable, century-old institution with an aging customer base and a reputation for conservatism.
To refresh its decidedly mature brand image, the San Francisco bank hired a young adman named Hal Riney, handing him a mandate:
Produce a spot that would resonate with younger customers.
In an interview he gave shortly before his death in 2008, Riney described Crocker as
"an old-fashioned bank with old-fashioned customers … trying to replace those people with some younger customers."
His solution was simple and — for its time — radical. Riney filmed a 58-second montage of scenes from a young couple's wedding.
The copy, which scrolls across the screen as the bride and groom drive away from the chapel, consisted of two simple sentences. "You've got a long way to go. We want to help you get there."
And the Crocker name? It flashed briefly across the screen for all of two seconds as the commercial faded out.
The ad paid immediate dividends for Crocker, attracting thousands of new young customers.
It also dawned on bank officials that the commercial's simplicity made it an easy vehicle to repurpose.
"What [Crocker] did with the campaign is franchise it to banks around the country," Riney said.
Nearly a half-century later, reaching young people is again a major focus for banks.
They are going to extraordinary lengths to grab the attention of millennial customers, only now they are relying on event marketing and mobile technology. But with the recent "Mad Men" finale reminding America how
"I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" commercialized the counterculture, it's worth reflecting on a bank advertising success story from that era.
The Crocker spot's extreme soft-sell approach was unprecedented.
"We had a really remarkable commercial for the time because it didn't say anything," Riney said.
"All we were doing was reflecting people's lives and doing it in a way that touched that audience."
Crocker sold itself to Wells Fargo in 1986, but the commercial it made in 1970 is still talked about.
To this day, it remains one of the most successful and influential bank advertisements ever made.
"It's a tribute to Hal Riney," said Paul Williams, who co-wrote the background music for the Crocker commercial with Roger Nichols,
his songwriting partner at the time.
"They told us at the beginning it was going to be different. It's essentially the first music video."
The other notable item about the commercial was the Williams-Nichols music that played in the background.
Following the ad's release, Williams said, he and Nichols took the tune and added a bridge and a third verse,
thus turning it into a song, "We've Only Just Begun."
Williams didn't hold out much hope the soft-rock tune would be a hit, though.
Less than a year had passed since the legendary Woodstock music festival,
and the psychedelic proto-metal rock anthem "In-A-Gadda- Da-Vida" was on top of the charts.
"You couldn't get any further away from a hit," Williams said.
"In fact, I would have bet you money quite the opposite was true" of "We've Only Just Begun."
What he couldn't have counted on was the fact Richard Carpenter, who along with his sister Karen
headlined an up-and-coming musical group, had seen the Crocker commercial and been struck by its musical accompaniment.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The Carpenters recorded their version of "We've Only Just Begun" in the summer of 1970 and it became a monster hit.
"Karen sang the song and the entire nation connected," Williams said.
Ironically, Williams said he and Nichols were not Riney's first choice to work on the Crocker commercial.
Lyricist Tony Asher, who had gained fame collaborating with Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" album,
had originally been tapped, but he broke his wrist in a skiing accident shortly before production was scheduled to start.
Over the years, "We've Only Just Begun" has become closely associated with weddings and proms, but Williams is still fond of it.
"I like to joke it has all the romantic appeal of a bank commercial," he said.
"People sometimes call it plain vanilla, but I tell them vanilla can be an exquisite flavor."
Awesome article! Thanks for sharing. Even though we are all familiar now with the story, hearing it from the advertising and banking perspectives are engrossing and how it's still relevant in today's markets.
The appearance on Ed Sullivan is chronicled on the Ed Sullivan Site,
the description seems to imply a 'live' performance, is this the case?
I'm sure it has been discussed, but, it is interesting that on the Album
Hal Blaine is drumming to these songs , whereas Karen performs this
duty on the Television appearance.
From Sullivan: "On October 18 1970, The Ed Sullivan Show featured B. B. King and Tony Bennett as well as the Carpenters.
Richard and Karen Carpenter took to a stage decorated with colorful images of flowers. They performed a medley of their hits
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” and “We’ve Just Begun”.
As always, Richard played the piano, Karen played the drums and serenaded the audience with her beautiful, melodic voice."
Source (and, More):
Well, yes Karen was still the sole drummer of the live group until mid 1972 ish.
Well, actually I think Jim Anthony was hired late 1971 as he is on the Live at BBC special.
Week ending July 25th, 1970, Billboard Charts,
Close To You Single is #1.
Here is more of the Hollywood Bowl Induction Ceremony:
July 25th, 1970 –
The Carpenters start a four week run at No.1 on the singles chart with
‘Close To You’.
It’s the first of three No.1′s
17 other Top 40 hits.
Read More(Photo): This Week in Music History |
This album is also great because of the cover artwork. I love it, but not for the reason you'd think. Every time I see it, I hear Richard complaining about how cheesy it is:
(from http://www.amcorner.com/forum/threads/favorite-carpenters-album-cover.6560/#post-59058 )
The story behind it makes me laugh some. Might be more of a pity laugh, though...
A&M Records' Greatest Hits
On the label's 50th anniversary, founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss remember five decades of classic records
"An interesting part of the Carpenters' story is they laid an egg on their first album.
It didn't even get a positive response from people in our own company!
What turned them around was, I was in New York with [esteemed lyricist] Hal David, and asked him to send me every song he couldn't stop listening to;
he sent me '(They Long To Be) Close To You." I recorded it myself, and thought I had a good record, but an engineer friend told me, 'You sound terrible singing this song.'
Then Carpenters came along, I slipped 'Close To You' to Richard [Carpenter], and that was the one that did it for them.
Richard had a feel for wonderful melody, and Karen [Carpenter] had one of those god-given voices.
I closed my eyes as I sat on couch listening to her audition tape, and it sounded like her voice was sitting next to me.
She had something magical, but didn't think of herself as a singer – she thought of herself as a drummer.
It took a while to get her in front of the drums.
Unfortunately, she didn't realize how many people she touched."
"Carpenters had ten gold singles in the Seventies.
That kind of run doesn't happen very often, and it just didn't happen at that time.
We sold millions of Carpenters albums on top of that – we even sold amazing amounts of sheet music for them!
A song like 'We've Only Just Begun' still gets played at weddings and football games. They had an amazing run."
Single released: 8/21/70
"We've Only Just Begun"... 45 years ago today!
Songs of this ilk....
Love Is Surrender,
Little Altar Boy
give pause as to Why more songs were not selected from the pantheon of
They are already built for melody, and, obviously Karen and Richard could have played on the strengths
inherent in less secular material--
then, changing to suit their needs (as in, Love Is Surrender...Liner Notes Essential Collection.).
Billboard, October 17,1981 (pages 6 &16):
Bacharach's Top 10 Hits as Composer,
ranking by chart position/weeks on chart:
1. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, BJ Thomas
2. Close To You, Carpenters
3.This Guy's In Love With You,Herb Alpert
4.Arthur's Theme, Christopher Cross
5. One Less Bell to Answer, Fifth Dimension
6.Only Love Can Break a Heart
7.What's New Pussycat, Tom Jones
8.Blue On Blue, Bobby Vinton
9.Magic Moments, Perry Como
10.I Say A little Prayer, Dionne Warwick.