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Official Review [Album]: "MADE IN AMERICA" (SP-3723)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Sep 1, 2013.

How Would You Rate This Album?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    11 vote(s)
    14.5%
  2. ****

    15 vote(s)
    19.7%
  3. ***

    27 vote(s)
    35.5%
  4. **

    20 vote(s)
    26.3%
  5. *

    3 vote(s)
    3.9%
  1. David A

    David A Active Member

    Really? Banal? This is one of a very few songs the C's did that approached anything like social commentary. That doesn't make it a good song; but banal doesn't seem to fit with me.
     

  2. I actually find Strength of a Woman one of the stronger songs on MIA. In fact, it's in my "top 20" of favorites out of all their songs. The lyrics don't bother me a bit. Perhaps because I know a couple women today who would fit these lyrics to a tee (unfortunately). Just because it's not a politically-correct feminist anthem that reflects "today," doesn't mean it's a bad song. It's a song from the perspective of a "weak" woman (they can have their perspectives, too, you know). This, to my ears, makes it unique. Not every song has to be from a single "angry v....a" perspective like it is today.
     
    Mark-T, David A and GaryAlan like this.
  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    My trusty thesaurus lists "trite" (or, trivial) as synonym for banal--I think it is apt.
    Lyric:
    Mr. Guder
    Say! Mr. Guder
    May I have a moment with you
    Because there is something I've got to say
    And please don't let it scare you away

    Mr. Guder
    Say! Mr. Guder
    I have seen you go through a day
    You're everything a robot lives for
    Walk in at nine and roll out the door at five
    You reflect the company image
    You maintain their rules to live by
    Shine your shoes let's keep a neat haircut
    Now that you're wearing a coat and tie

    Mr. Guder
    Say! Mr. Guder
    Some day soon may realize
    You spend your life just playing a game
    Where no ones wins but everyone stays the same
     
  4. David A

    David A Active Member

    It's certainly not worthy of lyrical critical praise, but banal just seems too much. Ah well, tomato tomahto :wink:
     
  5. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Yes, I confess, "banal" might be too harsh !
    And, my opinion is compounded by the issue that I just do not care for the song !

    It is interesting, though, how opinions in music differ so widely,
    I really get a charge out of
    Because We Are In Love,
    which seems to be rather far down the list of Carpenters fans' favorites......
     
  6. I believe that most of the time "Mr Guder's" song lyrics are written out, they get this wrong. Listen carefully and you'll hear Karen sing "Clock in at nine and roll out the door at five."
     
    jaredjohnfisher likes this.
  7. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    It's not one of my favorites, but I look at "Mr. Guder" much like "Druscilla", as a reflection of its time. I don't know why it was included on "Gold" (and it doesn't seem like a very genuine sentiment coming from an act that was itself pretty straight-laced, at least in public image).
     
  8. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Oh I don't doubt that such situations and people exist, but that doesn't mean it's something that should be put into a song and described as a 'strength', which it clearly isn't - and wasn't even back in 1981. 'The Uninvited Guest' tackles a similar subject matter but without venturing into any of the masochistic elements in 'Strength'. Perhaps if they were keen to have this subject on the album, they should have used 'The Uninvited Guest' instead, which in my opinion is a better song as well.

    There are plenty of 'weak woman' songs out there (from Tammy Wynette's 'Stand by Your Man' to something as extreme as The Crystals' 'He Hit Me and it Felt Like a Kiss'), and while I suppose you could say they're good if you like to listen to them, I think they're always going to be compromised by the dubious message they're imparting. I suppose there is an element of 'political correctness' in this thinking, but I don't see that as a bad thing if it prevents women from thinking that being treated badly is somehow acceptable or even a good thing.
     
    ullalume and ThaFunkyFakeTation like this.
  9. Obviously you don't get the subtle "twist" in this song. It's the irony. Of course it's not a "strength" but from the perspective of the subject female, it's her rationalization of her bad situation. It's the entire point of the song and what gives it dimension. But, this is exactly what Political Correctness does. It stifles creativity and freedom of interpretation. Your statement "prevent women from thinking," is case in point. I think women are, in general, very smart. Nothing "prevents" them from thinking. And I don't, for a million years, think that an obscure song on an obscure record somewhere, is compelling masses of preventive-thinking women to allow themselves to be treated badly. I have a lot more faith in the fairer sex than that.
     
  10. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't say that's a 'twist' at all. It's a way of trying to put a positive gloss on what is an awful and demeaning situation, in exactly the same way as The Crystals' song I mentioned - he hit me, so that must mean he loves me. There's nothing ironic in the delivery in 'Strength of a Woman', which undermines any sense of mitigating the message that it's sending.

    I'm not saying that political correctness doesn't have its downsides, but I do think that it's a blessing if it means we don't get songs normalising this kind of behaviour. We're all influenced by our surroundings, what we read and what we hear, so while I doubt this song has had much effect in that respect (like you say, it is pretty obscure), it's not a lyric I'd want to associate myself with if I were an artist. Remember the fuss over the lyrics in 'Superstar' sending the wrong message to their fans? I'd say the sentiments in 'Strength of a Woman' are far worse in that respect.
     
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  11. You should hear Gordon Lightfoot's "That's What You get for Lovin' Me." In this song, the guy is a huge jerk. Because Gordon Lightfoot wrote and sang it, did not make me go "oh, if Gordon Lightfoot sings this song, I should go out and treat woman like trash." Like "Strength of a Woman," it's a song from a particular perspective. It might not be YOUR perspective, but there is nothing wrong with listening to an alternate perspective. It's not intended for "sending a message." I (and probably a big chunk of the rest of the world) don't listen to their music (or any music, for that matter) waiting to hear a "message" and then taking marching orders from it. That is a lot more "weak" of character than what the subject of this "Strength of a Woman" conveys. Very scary when we start limiting peoples' thoughts and words because someone might be "influenced by" their "surroundings." Most people...a vast majority, I'd say...are mature and intelligent enough to "get" the irony in "Strength of a Woman"...rationalizing one's weakness as a "strength..." and not be influenced to act it out. In fact, I'd argue that the song probably HELPED more women realize a situation they are in might be emotionally abusive when they hear it being described in a song and then realizing how pathetic the female subject is in rationalizing her situation. It's a clever masterpiece of a song!
     
    David A likes this.
  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    I agree completely. I was quite surprised to hear this sentiment expressed and it's a real shame.

    Ed
     
  13. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Almost... :wink:

    Mr. Guder
    Say! Mr. Guder
    May I have a moment with you
    For there is something I've got to say
    And please don't let it scare you away

    Mr. Guder
    Say! Mr. Guder
    I have seen you go through a day
    You're everything a robot lives for
    Clock in at nine and roll out the door at five
    You reflect the company image
    You maintain their rules to live by
    Shine your shoes, let's keep a neat haircut
    Now that you're wearing a coat and tie

    Mr. Guder
    Say! Mr. Guder
    Some day soon may realize
    You've blown your life just playing a game
    Where no ones wins but everyone stays the same


    Hope this is helpful... :wink:

    Ed
     
  14. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    BTW, "Clock in at nine..." is clear here, though it's not as much so on the recording...



    Ed
     
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Regarding Strength Of A Woman:
    It was written/composed by two women Phyllis Brown/Juanita Curiel.
    Well, they wrote it, so they presumably felt it was worth writing.
    The song--presumably--was selected for recording by Richard Carpenter.
    Regardless of how it is interpreted, I believe Karen sings it incredibly well.....
     
    Geographer likes this.
  16. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    It was nearly chosen by Richard as a single. Imagine that.
     
  17. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I think we're in danger of going round in circles on this, so I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. It might well be a generational thing. I stand by my take on 'Strength of a Woman' but I don't wish to cause ill-feeling if it creates upset for me to be critical of it.
     
    ThaFunkyFakeTation and ullalume like this.
  18. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Indirectly linked to Strength was Rumbahbah's earlier reference to the Uninvited Guest.

    It's like Richard took that opening line of "A ghost is there. . ." then crafted one of his most haunting arrangements and hung it on the metaphor. Karen's voice is glorious and right up in the mix unlike a lot of MIA, proof positive that the "weakness" detected by many from the 1980 sessions probably has more to do with production values that her voice.

    The lyric, with some tweaks, could also be sung by a man, unlike "Strength of a Woman". And imagine if we had some backing vocals from Karen and Richard Ala "When It's Gone".

    It's funny, in my version of MIA this song always replaces Strength and follows "Dreams" in the line-up - two countryish pop songs with very different treatments juxtaposing one another.

    Best

    Neil
     
  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Nice.
    I must say, and-I know I repeat myself--I love Uninvited Guest.
    Now, that's a haunting Karen Carpenter vocal and a great arrangement.
    I love the slide guitar wherever it is utilized.
    By the way, it is fascinating to read of the different views on Strength Of A Woman.
    By the way, I respect others' opinion of the song,
    and in no way am I offended if they do not like the song--I understand their viewpoint, also.
     
    Geographer likes this.
  20. David A

    David A Active Member

    I'm not offended by either position on this, though I personally feel that PC and artistic expression don't mix. Once you go down that road, the judgement becomes completely arbitrary.
     
    Geographer likes this.
  21. Sadly, I never cared enough for “Strength of a Woman” to bother to analyze the lyrics or have their meaning register with me. And I’m very “lyrics oriented”!
     
  22. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Just heard WYBIMLA again. Pretty good contemporary song for the times. Even has some energy in contrast to most of the rest of the album. Karen is too far in the background, though.
     
  23. arthowson

    arthowson Active Member

    I'm upset that you put Strength into your Top 20. Because this has everything to do with me! :)
     
  24. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I love Strength. Always have from first listen.
     
    K.C. Jr and GaryAlan like this.
  25. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    For all the anathema toward the lyrical content of
    Strength Of A Woman ( a great song--imho),
    listen to......
    Somebody's Been Lyin'....not so much different from the former, in the sense that
    Karen is singing from 'her' perspective
    ( "I still believe in love...", yet, "he's not here to lean on..."),
    or ,
    I Want You Back In My Life Again
    ("I had your love and let it go..."
    "I guess it took awhile for me to see...., "I need you here with me....").


    In those three instances Karen is still the person "singing" about saving, keeping, or fighting
    to keep a relationship alive....Karen, singing from a woman's perspective of saving a relationship.
    (Or, perhaps I am mis-reading these song !).

    Made In America is a great album to "pick apart" !
    Although it is not my favorite, there are (as I have written elsewhere)
    glimmers of interest on the album to explore.
     

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