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Analysis: If I Had You


I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
Another interesting thread from Rick Henry’s book “The Carpenters Online Interviews”. This time, about my favourite track from Karen’s solo album: If I Had You.

We did not know that Karen had decided to make an album with a different producer [...] With no artist in mind, Gary Harju, Steve Dorff and I wrote the song, "If I Had You". As with every song Steve and I wrote with Gary, Gary had given us a complete lyric. I took the chorus and Steve took the verse. I think Steve gave the demo of the song to Ed Sulzer. Somehow it wound up in Karen's hands. To be honest, I was very surprised to hear that she was interested in recording the song with her new producer, Phil Ramone. I was trying to write a heavy metal chorus with that song and Karen Carpenter and Anne Murray were nowhere in my thoughts for singing it. So, I was extremely curious to hear what she would do with the song. I was very, very happy with the result. The background vocal arrangement by Rod Temperton was exceptional. I love Karen's recording of "If I Had You". I believe it has the distinction of being Karen Carpenter's last single release. Unfortunately, it was released after she died. It was entirely possible that had she been alive to promote the single it could have been a hit and she most likely would have returned to recording with Richard and perhaps recorded the song I wrote with Gary Harju [...] I was surprised to find Karen's recording of "If I Had You" on Youtube a couple years ago. Tears came to my eyes as I listened to her singing my song. The words then took on a new meaning. Aside from my own personal benefit, it seems a shame that this recording of Karen's is not more well known.

The last time I saw Karen was on the A&M Records lot. Steve and I were there visiting Ed Sulzer and she and Richard happened to be on the lot. Before we parted, Karen shook my hand. As I turned to walk away, I thought to myself "Bones. Her hand felt very bony." I did not know of Karen's problem with anorexia nervosa. I so miss Karen's voice. In addition to Karen having a great sounding voice and impeccable timing, she was also gifted with perfect pitch and as a musician, I am very appreciative of hearing every note so in tune. How wonderful it would be if we could have Karen again.

John Adam

Well-Known Member
No secret I am a fan of Karen's album and outtakes. Along with you Stephen, "If I Have You" is also my favorite track from those sessions.
The vocal arrangement is so in your face.........and that's a good thing! I think Karen and the gang from the solo sessions made this recording the definitive version, and kudos to Richard for recognizing the potential in this song and adding his touches!



Well-Known Member
Kudos to Karen Carpenter for already recognizing the potential of this song in 1979.
While I like Richard's arrangement, in the final analysis (as I have detailed elsewhere)
Karen's original solo version had all the foundational elements perfectly situated.
Careful--and, I do mean very careful--listening to the original shows exactly what Karen and Phil were after.

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Was not a big fan of the song at first, but has grown on me over the years. Now it is one my favorite Karen performances.
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