• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and 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 being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

📣 News Carpenters: The Musical Legacy (Discussion)

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
A recent review:

Jan 9,2021
"Quinn on Books: One-Sided Story"
Excerpt:
"If you’re unfamiliar with the Carpenters, this book is not the place to start. "

Complete review here:
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
A recent review:

Jan 9,2021
"Quinn on Books: One-Sided Story"
Excerpt:
"If you’re unfamiliar with the Carpenters, this book is not the place to start. "

Complete review here:
I don’t agree with this review. I didn’t get the sense that Richard tried to grandstand right throughout the book, or at all. I think this guy had a negative view of Richard before he even opened the book and just wanted to express that point of view in his review, no matter the contents of the book.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
A recent review:

Jan 9,2021
"Quinn on Books: One-Sided Story"
Excerpt:
"If you’re unfamiliar with the Carpenters, this book is not the place to start. "

...
No, I don't think it's a really good place to start - it's more than obvious that the perfect place to start is by listening to their music, say the "Singles: 1969 to 1973" album (or a homemade album of their very best songs - not necessarily all hits - put together by a superfan with impeccable taste, like, ahem, me)...then listen your way through all of their other albums - Carpenters is all about the music & the rest is very minor trivia...the book is a final and brilliant summation.

Even Quinn has this to say:

He [Richard] makes a case for the albums, the choices he made in putting them together, but it’s the singles that tell the story of their career, and they still hold up. They are of their time, but with that magical timeless quality that all the greats share.

Many of Quinn's complaints about Richard's "personality quirks" are off the mark - most of these are simple statements of fact by Richard.

What I do emphatically agree with in this review is this statement:

That voice is sadly missing here. While photos and memories of Karen are dotted throughout, she gets a scant two-page eulogy—an overcorrection of “the anorexia book”...

Here's what I said in a "Spoiler" a couple of pages back:

The chapter on Karen Carpenter is far too short - and very disappointing.

Since this is a book geared predominately toward a detailed discussion of the Carpenters' musical legacy this chapter should have dwelt at length and in depth on her development as a world class singer and as a highly accomplished drummer, i.e., the history of all of the factors and influences that led to the ultimate creation of the woman many consider to have musical talent that was "mind boggling" and "off the charts"...

The brief, cursory summary of her battle with anorexia should have been relegated to another appendix at the back of the book, and then only for the sake of newbies unfamiliar with this inexplicable tragedy.


Finally, in discussing Karen's voice, Quinn says this:

...haunted by Karen’s low, plaintive voice, always sounding sad, but hopeful. These feelings are mirrored in the listener: You feel like she understands what you’re going through, and no matter how bad you might be feeling, there’s also a chance that you’ll feel better. It’s a voice like eyes: It makes you feel seen.

While I disagree totally that her voice was "plaintive and always sounding sad" the rest of his description is dead on, especially that insightful part about "a voice like eyes: it makes you feel seen." This is the heart of why so many people say they feel like Karen was singing just to them and for them...
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
"always sounding sad."

Speaking for myself, I never thought that.
Karen did not "always" sound sad.
Again, that reads her biography backwards, as if every note she sang was a reflection of
the events which transpired on February 4, 1983.
 

jcolo1956

Well-Known Member
Agreed, John. And all are convinced here that someone “had it against them” at Billboard at the time, as there’s no excuse as to why the number 2s never made it to number 1.
They could have had 8 count that EIGHT number #1's in the Carpenters Career up to Karen's passing instead of the 3 .... had the 5 #2's been rightfully .... Honestly should have been .... #1's in my humble opinion!
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
They could have had 8 count that EIGHT number #1's in the Carpenters Career up to Karen's passing instead of the 3 .... had the 5 #2's been rightfully .... Honestly should have been .... #1's in my humble opinion!
They had a few other #1's around the world, so they did have more than 8 #1's. I was just reading Carpenters All The Top 40 Hits by Craig Halstead (Createspace, 2021 4th Edition), and he was looking at charts from 19 countries including the US, Canada (before 2000---he couldn't find any charts since RPM ceased in 1999 except the Billboard), Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). He occasionally mentions other countries, like Malaysia where, I think it was "I Need To Be In Love" hit at least #2, but between it hitting #2 and it's final week at #8, there are 6 weeks of charts missing, so it might've even been a #1 in those 6 weeks.
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
"always sounding sad."

Speaking for myself, I never thought that.
Karen did not "always" sound sad.
Again, that reads her biography backwards, as if every note she sang was a reflection of
the events which transpired on February 4, 1983.
I think a majority of people well before the day of her death would say that there was always a pervasive, profound sadness coming through in her vocal chords. To different degrees based on the songs subject matter but even in “Sing” it’s clearly heard. There’s no joy in that vocal to my ears which is why that recording is so fascinating.

Hell, even Richard once was quoted as saying this:

Karen has impeccable phrasing, her voice had a lot of warmth, but always with that touch of melancholy, which singled her out from most other singers of her generation.”

In other words it’s not some exaggeration based off hindsight knowledge of her tragic life and death that there was a lonely, mournful sound she expressed with no effort.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
I think a majority of people well before the day of her death would say that there was always a pervasive, profound sadness coming through in her vocal chords. To different degrees based on the songs subject matter but even in “Sing” it’s clearly heard. There’s no joy in that vocal to my ears which is why that recording is so fascinating.

Hell, even Richard once was quoted as saying this:

Karen has impeccable phrasing, her voice had a lot of warmth, but always with that touch of melancholy, which singled her out from most other singers of her generation.”

In other words it’s not some exaggeration based off hindsight knowledge of her tragic life and death that there was a lonely, mournful sound she expressed with no effort.
"A lonely, mournful sound she expressed with no effort" and "always with a touch of melancholy"...

Always? I disagree. When the lyrics -the story - of the song called for it, yes. But, not otherwise, and not always, and not naturally. And not without effort. The effort to infuse the vocal with the emotion demanded took a degree of effort, but that effort was just so easy for her.

And where is the sadness or melancholy in "We've Only Just Begun" or "For All We Know" or "You're the One" or "Touch Me While We're Dancing" or "One More Time" or any number of other warm, positive, upbeat songs?

And let's face it - quoting Richard seems to carry less and less authoritative weight after some of the highly questionable and debatable things he had to say in "Legacy" about Karen's drumming abilities or the songs that should or shouldn't have been on some of the albums. I'm sure that even to this day he thinks that double tracking her voice on her lead vocals was a wonderful sonic experience - a real stoke of genius...
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I felt Tom Nolan got it right in July 1974, Rolling Stones cover- story:
"...chilling perfection with much warmth; youth with wisdom..."
Paul McCartney: "melodic, tuneful and distinctive."

Matt Wallace (co-producer If I Were A Carpenter 1994 tribute album):
"I love that most of the bands shifted towards the brooding, melancholy side of what The Carpenters did.
Richard and Karen were more than just the bright, shiny, effervescent side of what they are sometimes most remembered for
."
Source:

As late as February 2013, you could even read this:
"...her legacy as one-half of the singing duo The Carpenters is a source of some disagreement."
Source:
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
A recent review:

Jan 9,2021
"Quinn on Books: One-Sided Story"
Excerpt:
"If you’re unfamiliar with the Carpenters, this book is not the place to start. "

Complete review here:
What’s interesting—we literally gathered hours and HOURS worth of audiotapes, and at least a couple thousand images (photos, hi res scans of various artifacts etc). So, one can imagine how much sifting we had to do in order to get it down to the rather extensive volume that it is. Fair to say there was plenty more that was not included than included, and currently all sitting in my archive.

To quote John Lydgate: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” 😀
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
There is no real disagreement about Karen's legacy as one half of the Carpenters - the only question is how much more than half she was...

As a controversy or debatable point of discussion this is as invalid and assinine as the Rolling Stones's poll or survey naming her the 94th top or best female singer in the history of Rock - this is roughly equivalent to naming Secretariat the 94th best race horse in history - if the pathetic little spiteful, mindless morons
behind that article just couldn't bring themselves to place her at No. 1 where she belonged, which would have been the rational and rightful thing to do, then they should have left her completely off the list, since she was, in effect, in a category of her own...
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
There is no real disagreement about Karen's legacy as one half of the Carpenters - the only question is how much more than half she was...

As a controversy or debatable point of discussion this is as invalid and assinine as the Rolling Stones's poll or survey naming her the 94th top or best female singer in the history of Rock - this is roughly equivalent to naming Secretariat the 94th best race horse in history - if the pathetic little spiteful, mindless morons
behind that article just couldn't bring themselves to place her at No. 1 where she belonged, which would have been the rational and rightful thing to do, then they should have left her completely off the list, since she was, in effect, in a category of her own...
Completely agree, @JohnFB! It just goes to show you that many of these critics are working with the same two ears that many of the various record labels' so-called "A&R" men and women work with.

Just ridiculous.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
I resonate strongly with a remark Mike Lennox made:
"...I think the last thing in the world that she (Karen) would have wanted was for her death to define her life.”

Source:
AMEN to that! I wish that quote was around much sooner and could have been used as a caveat here at the Forum!
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
"A lonely, mournful sound she expressed with no effort" and "always with a touch of melancholy"...

Always? I disagree. When the lyrics -the story - of the song called for it, yes. But, not otherwise, and not always, and not naturally. And not without effort. The effort to infuse the vocal with the emotion demanded took a degree of effort, but that effort was just so easy for her.

And where is the sadness or melancholy in "We've Only Just Begun" or "For All We Know" or "You're the One" or "Touch Me While We're Dancing" or "One More Time" or any number of other warm, positive, upbeat songs?

And let's face it - quoting Richard seems to carry less and less authoritative weight after some of the highly questionable and debatable things he had to say in "Legacy" about Karen's drumming abilities or the songs that should or shouldn't have been on some of the albums. I'm sure that even to this day he thinks that double tracking her voice on her lead vocals was a wonderful sonic experience - a real stoke of genius...
We clearly respond to different things when we hear that voice. It took effort to infuse varied emotion into her phrasing but there’s always for me that underlining melancholic tonality. It was just a part of her core.

I think there’s clearly a spirit of sadness coursing through WOJB, both in its production and that lead vocal. I don’t know how someone can hear Karen bursting with exuberance. It’s this inherent emotional dimension of warm distance to her vocal chords that transforms tunes like that For All WK, You’re the One, One More Time and countless more into something so much more complex, shaded, paradoxical and resonant than they read on paper. This is her storytelling trademark for me. Richard’s not always musically on base about her voice but he, in some way, understands something fundamental about that sound of hers.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
I think it's fair to say there was/is a dark undertone in and throughout most of their work, regardless of the mood or nature that each is trying to convey through a song's recording and production.

Richard was recently quoted as saying they were "high ego, low self-esteem." I believe it is the emotional makeup which was manifested through the latter that is the inevitable ingredient that was infused in and throughout their work. Just my opinion.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
...
I think there’s clearly a spirit of sadness coursing through WOJB, both in its production and that lead vocal. I don’t know how someone can hear Karen bursting with exuberance. ...
Sorry, but I've listened to WOJB countless times and never once felt any degree or type of sadness - Exuberance is precisely and exactly what WOJB is all about - exuberance and hopefulness for the future and the coming life ahead - which is why it's been used so many times at graduations and weddings and anniversaries...if one wants sadness one plays "Amazing Grace"...
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
Sorry, but I've listened to WOJB countless times and never once felt any degree or type of sadness - Exuberance is precisely and exactly what WOJB is all about - exuberance and hopefulness for the future and the coming life ahead - which is why it's been used so many times at graduations and weddings and anniversaries...if one wants sadness one plays "Amazing Grace"...
Lyrically it’s about that but that’s not what I get from her performance. That she would superseded a happy lyric with her own singular gravity is what makes her so compelling and dimensional a performer.

This is from a more modern review that describes a bit of what I’m saying:

Karen Carpenter was battling pain and loneliness that her voice couldn’t hide. What’s obvious in listening to Carpenters: Singles: 1969-1981 as a collected works is the weight of depression and sadness that inhabits their music. Even the upbeat “Top of the World” pulsates with a melancholy that is both unnerving and incongruous with the songs buoyant lyrics. In the wedding anthem “We’ve Only Just Begun” Karen’s plaintive vocals sound like she’s singing from the point of view of a new bride that knows the rosy family life promised to her by television and the media is a lie. It could almost be argued that the song’s eerie sadness foreshadows America’s late ‘70s disillusionment with family and the exploding divorce rate.”

Her voice articulates something that’s buried within the words, and that Richard’s arrangements often, consciously or not, underscore. She often sounds like she’s in a permanent state of incompleteness, but endlessly manifests a bottomless curiosity about who or what has her locked in such an inchoate state, seemingly transmitted from a very private (inner) world. It’s those textures - searching, otherworldly, intelligent and emotional - that keep us coming back. Well, me at least, and I can imagine many others.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Sorry, but I've listened to WOJB countless times and never once felt any degree or type of sadness - Exuberance is precisely and exactly what WOJB is all about - exuberance and hopefulness for the future and the coming life ahead - which is why it's been used so many times at graduations and weddings and anniversaries...if one wants sadness one plays "Amazing Grace"...
Definitely hope in Amazing Grace. That's the point of the song. :)
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Speaking only for myself....
It is the awesome beauty of Karen's voice that attracts me. That beauty always was and is number one with me.
Is there melancholy in her voice ? I am sure there is, and one could make a case that it was and is always there.
But, for me it is the beauty, not the sadness, that first captivated me.
Beauty.

Who was it...Tom Nolan, I suppose...who mentioned the chimeric quality. Oh, yes, the Passage liner essay:
".... the chimerical quality of her own art – as soon as you think you’ve categorized her, she reveals another aspect of her range,
one you’d overlooked or forgotten for a while."
 

jcolo1956

Well-Known Member
They had a few other #1's around the world, so they did have more than 8 #1's. I was just reading Carpenters All The Top 40 Hits by Craig Halstead (Createspace, 2021 4th Edition), and he was looking at charts from 19 countries including the US, Canada (before 2000---he couldn't find any charts since RPM ceased in 1999 except the Billboard), Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). He occasionally mentions other countries, like Malaysia where, I think it was "I Need To Be In Love" hit at least #2, but between it hitting #2 and it's final week at #8, there are 6 weeks of charts missing, so it might've even been a #1 in those 6 weeks.
They had a few other #1's around the world, so they did have more than 8 #1's. I was just reading Carpenters All The Top 40 Hits by Craig Halstead (Createspace, 2021 4th Edition), and he was looking at charts from 19 countries including the US, Canada (before 2000---he couldn't find any charts since RPM ceased in 1999 except the Billboard), Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). He occasionally mentions other countries, like Malaysia where, I think it was "I Need To Be In Love" hit at least #2, but between it hitting #2 and it's final week at #8, there are 6 weeks of charts missing, so it might've even been a #1 in those 6 weeks.
Let me rephrase what I originally said: This is for the United States Billboard HOT 100 Chart ONLY that I am referring to ====> "The Carpenters could have had 8 #1's in the Carpenters Career up to Karen's passing instead of the 3 had the 5 #2's been #1's on the United States Billboard HOT 100 Chart". Sorry for the confusion. Thank you.
 
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