• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is available for ordering here.

Carpenters: A to Z BBC Radio Documentary


I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
The documentary has just finished airing, below are some of the highlights typed in real time below (hidden with a spoiler alert). Where I could, I indicated which version of the tracks are included but forgive me if there are any inaccuracies.

The documentary begins with Graham Norton introducing the special against the backdrop of the overture from the new album, which segues into the overture from PACC.

A: A&M Records. Richard talks about their beginnings and mentions that the song Ticket To Ride is his favourite Carpenters song after all these years. The song is played (1973 remix).

B: John Bettis
. Richard talks about the songs All I Can Do (which he described as "very sixties") and Eve, explaining that it was inspired by a TV show of the same name. Richard asked John to add the lyrics to the song as he didn't feel that his were very good. Snippets of both songs All I Can Do and Eve are played. He also says he never should have sang any leads at all, that it should all have been Karen as she was the lead singer.

C: Close To You.
Richard talks about the song and how Herb gave them a second chance after the first album didn't do that well (despite costing a lot of money to make). The RPO version of the song is played. "C" also stands for Christmas and Richard explains how they took Christmas to their hearts growing up. He explains that in 1966 Frank Pooler gave Richard a song he had written in 1946, explaining that he liked the lyrics but not the melody, asking Richard to give it a try. Richard says he wrote the melody in 8 minutes and played the song for Frank who loved it, and that they went on to record it and release it. He also says that Karen's vocal was huskier in 1970 and for that reason she opted to re-record it in 1978.

D: Downey.
Excerpt from Someday is played while Richard talks about their father hating the cold weather and that they weren't all that young when they sold their house and moved the family to California. A colleague of Harold recommended Downey to them. Excerpt of California Dreaming is played. Richard talks about Karen's high voice and then how her low voice was discovered when Richard wrote You'll Love Me in the key of G. He sings the first verse of the song in falsetto (claiming "I'm murdering it"), saying that while it was rough around the edges, you can tell it's Karen and that there was something there. The song is played.

E: Entertainment.
Richard talks about their TV specials and the song Dizzy Fingers is played while Richard talks about his role being a behind the scenes guy, and how his role didn't come across on TV as well. He also says he didn't care for the comedy writing and that he doesn't watch TV specials with skits himself. He said he would have preferred them to be just Karen's specials, but the Carpenters name was too powerful to have allowed them to do that.

F: Fame
. Richard says it was truly overnight that fame came, going on to explain that they were opening in Toronto for Engelbert Humperdinck when Richard was considering A&M's request that they should not release any more singles from Close To You, which meant they were now looking for new material. Richard explains how they heard the melody to For All We Know in the movie Lovers and Other Strangers, after being recommended the movie by Sherwin Bash. He remembers that the brief snippet of the melody was played on a trumpet in the scene, and that it jumped out at him so much, he told Karen "this is the next single". The remix version is played.

G: Goodbye To Love.
Richard recounts his well-known anecdote about the movie Rhythm On The River and how the movie referred to the song. Richard sings the opening line. He also refers to it as the first "power ballad". The RPO version is played, and Richard explains mid-song how they chose Tony Peluso for the guitar solo that he had pictured.

H: Horizon
. Introduced by Graham as their most technically accomplished album to date. Richard says he wanted a better, more "ballsy" drum sound for this album and that Karen was in remarkable vocal form by this time in their career. An excerpt from Solitaire (album version) is played. Richard says his only disappointment with the album is that it had too many ballads and that he wished the album had been more varied. He also said he wishes he had left Please Mr Postman off the album, because it was a different piece in its own right (snippet of the remix version is played). H is also for Happy and a snippet of the song is played. Richard explains that he put a synth on the track and it had a sound that everyone seemed to be using at that time on their records, and says he felt the jumping sound at the end of the track sounded cool at the time but that it bothers him now. Richard says that when he looks back and on the times he employed the latest thing, he has lived to regret it.

I: Interviews. Richard talks about their relationship with the press, and how rock critics thought they were the worst thing imaginable: white American musicians who made middle-of-the-road music. He says they were downright nasty with their reviews, and quotes in detail some of their comments, saying it was completely unnecessary. "I" also stands for I Need To Be In Love and the entire RPO version is played, with Richard talking about how it was Karen's favourite Carpenter/Bettis song.

J: Japan. Richard talks about how Japan became a monstrous part of their career, while the PACC version of Look To Your Dreams is played. Graham talks about their Japanese pop drink commercials and the uptempo Suntory Pop jingle is played. Richard says Japan was a whole other world, and that the people were so nice and marvellous hosts and that they're still there today. "J" also stands for Jambalaya which is played in full.

Hourly News Update: Richard says "Don't go anywhere - we've only just begun!"

K: . Karen's Theme opens the second hour. Karen. Richard says she was born to be in a recording studio, that she knew how to use studio headphones and instinctively stood right up close to the microphone when singing. He said someone once asked Ray Gerhardt's secret was when recording Karen to get that sound and Ray replied that he just recorded her flat: the magic was already there. I Believe You (RPO) is played from the drum break to the end of the song.

L: Love Me For What I Am. Richard says there was something wrong with the tape which they noticed when putting the album together, which produced a phased effect on the choruses which he didn't like. An edit of the song is played.

M: Made In America.
Graham explained that A&M were putting pressure on them to produced a successful album, and recounts that Hush hadn't done well and they were being harangued by Jerry Moss to come up with something successful. They reacted by releasing Passage, which didn't do well and didn't please Jerry Moss. He goes on to explain how they moved on with MIA and Touch Me When We're Dancing is played (RPO version). Richard also mentions Karen's brief marriage.

N: Now & Then. Richard explains that Agnes came up with the title and talks about the album cover. He talks about the album cover and says it was done almost as an afterthought. He said they showed up at Newville and said they suggested taking a picture of the duo at the front door, as if for the family photo album. Richard said he suggested they took a picture of them in the Ferrari and Richard says if you look at his face in the picture, he was "pissed off!". Richard laughs how the album succeeded despite the dreadful cover. Excerpts from Fun, Fun, Fun and One Fine Day (remixes) are played.

O: Only Yesterday. Richard says it really isn't one of his better songs, that it's a better recording than it is a song. He mentions the various effects on it (castanets, sandpaper effect) and that it's a "sparkling production" and well made record. The album version of the song is played in its entirety.

P: Piano. Richard says he is happiest at the piano considers it a gift to be able to do so. He actually says that he doesn't play all that well, but that he's "alright". Piano Picker from the Palladium album is played. "P" is also for Palladium. Richard says they sold out their 1976 run quicker than anyone to date and that they actually did three gigs in one night, including the "Ticket For A Toy" charity gig, which was Karen's idea. There's A Kind Of Hush from the Palladium album is played in full.

Q: No Entry! BBC don't think I didn't notice :laugh:

R: Rainy Days And Mondays.
Richard explains that Nichols and Williams were writers for Almo Musics, explaining that it was short for "Alpert" and "Moss". He explains that Tommy Morgan and Bob Messenger were "terrific" on mouth organ and sax solo. Rainy Days And Mondays (Remix) is played in full.

S: Superstar. Richard describes this as one of their best tracks and perfect for Karen. He talks about the Bette Midler version (a snippet of which is played), saying that he remembered thinking "this is a hit!". Richard said the arrangement - complete with the french horn - came to him immediately. He also explains that the is one of those which cleaned up the best for the RPO project. He explains that Karen's lead was a scratch lead, which contained leakage and "cross-talk" from one tape machine to another and ended up in a different tempo than when it began. He said he wished Karen could hear the RPO version (which is played in full).

T: Top Of The World. Richard explains that Gil Friesen (A&M President) personally flew to Las Vegas in 1972 to personally tell the Carpenters that they should not release the track as a single. He also says that children were knocking on the Newville front door asking when it was going to be released as a single. The RPO version is played (edit).

U: The Uninvited Guest. Richard says he is "so happy" that this track has been brought to his intention for this documentary and explains that it was an outtake of MIA and a work lead. Richard talks about finishing it off for the Lovelines album, describing it as a beautiful, haunting song. He says "I have to get it out and listen to it again". A clever edit of the track is played.

V: Voice Of The Heart. Richard describes the album as "something to keep me busy". He said he knew Karen wasn't well, that he had his say and what happened, happened. He said her death "cast me adrift", and that Herb and Jerry took him to lunch and said he was still with the label and could proceed with their catalogue however he wished. An edit of Make Believe It's Your First Time is played.

W: We've Only Just Begun. Richard explains that Nichols/Williams were signed to A&M and that Richard and Karen met them shortly after signing and that it became a "mutual admiration society". The original audio of the Crocker Bank commercial is played. Richard described it as an "understated ad". Richard then goes on to do a hilarious imitation of Paul Williams' vocal :laugh:. He explains that he asked Paul Williams if it was a whole song, which Paul confirmed. Richard said there was an awkward key change in the song which he got around and that after the second chorus, he pictured them repeating "together" twice for their version. Remix version is played.

X: No entry!

Y: Yesterday Once More. Richard explains how he listened to the radio early on as a child, that he loved the top 40, who wrote the songs, what the B-sides were...all of that interested him. He said the song was born from the fact that he hadn't had enough time to write new material for Now & Then (explaining that this was the reason the instrumental Heather is on the album). He explained that he got to the end of the first verse of the song and ran out of lyrics, asking John Bettis to step in. He described it as his favourite of all the songs he has written. Clean opening RPO version is played in full.

Z: No Entry!

Graham summarises their career and Richard explains that he wants the world to know how great Karen was, and that the image thing destroyed what she should be remembered for. He says that hurts him more than anything else. He described her as being a world famous singer being born to a brother who was born to showcase her. The intro RPO version of For All We Know is played and then an edited RPO version of Hurting Each Other.

Programme Closes.
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Active Member
I really enjoyed listening to this. It was so nice to hear some of the songs that aren’t usually on the radio being played. Richard was really good, explaining and introducing. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t listened yet :)


Well-Known Member
A great program, thanks for sharing ! Richard was as candid as ever, for that I am grateful !
Richard awakened a few questions in me....
Had Please Mr. Postman been held-off from Horizon, what song would replace it ?
He did not seem keen--at the time--of using Trying To Get The Feeling Again....
Also, it is (still) surprising that Uninvited Guest was held-off MIA, it is a terrific cut....
was it not seen as a superior track, at that time ?


Well-Known Member
A great program, thanks for sharing ! Richard was as candid as ever, for that I am grateful !
Richard awakened a few questions in me....
Had Please Mr. Postman been held-off from Horizon, what song would replace it ?
He did not seem keen--at the time--of using Trying To Get The Feeling Again....
Also, it is (still) surprising that Uninvited Guest was held-off MIA, it is a terrific cut....
was it not seen as a superior track, at that time ?
One thing I did notice was most everything had a positive spin. The Lovelines insert says it was the result of a lack of space.


Well-Known Member
^^True enough !
Be that as it may, it --Uninvited Guest--is sorely lacking in appearances on any major Compilations.
(outside of being the final song on The Complete Singles).

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I remember an interview once where Richard said they left "Tryin' to Get the Feeling" off of Horizon because he thought the set was already ballad-heavy and didn't need another. (If I was to play producer for a moment, I would have taken off "I Can Dream Can't I" and replaced it with "TTGTF.") I just like "Tryin'" the better of the two, plus it was more contemporary. But, that's just me.

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
^^I agree CraigGA. I hate to say this, but one of the few times Karen was ever trumped on a performance was Linda Ronstadt's version of Desperado. I don't know if it's Karen's uninspired performance or the arrangement, but it doesn't stand out to me.


Well-Known Member
Particularly interesting and something I had never heard before were Richard's comments about "Only Yesterday" not being his best song composition (but a great single and showcase for Karen). Does this commentary help "break the code" and help explain as to why "Only Yesterday" was left off and not included on the current RPO release???
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