• 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)

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I totally agree with the above comments about the dark undertone of the Carpenters' overall sound. It goes all the way back to the beginning. Take a listen to the 'Offering' album and you'll hear almost a sense of foreboding in Karen's vocals and Richard's arrangements. They were just kids at the time, but it's definitely there. It is interesting this has come up here at the Forum because I've really noticed it in recent months listening to their music. Listen to a song like 'Eve' or 'Crescent Noon' or even 'Yesterday Once More'. It's almost as if Karen was coming from a different place entirely and we were gladly along for the ride. You can't fake that kind of connection between the singer and the listener. It's there.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
Definitely hope in Amazing Grace. That's the point of the song. :)
Well, I guess if some can find a faint hint of sadness in a song as exuberant and joyful as WOJB, then one can certainly find a degree of that same sadness in a song as hopeful as AG - notice that it's most often heard at funerals these days where a lot of people are naturally very sad - if it doesn't generate the sadness itself it sure is hanging out with that doleful emotion a lot - guilt by association! 🙂
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
Loving this discussion! It shows again that there are many dimensions to the recordings and performances of artists as great as the Carpenters. As diverse people we relate and experience different aspects of those qualities.
I hear the joy and lightheartedness in many of them, but I've always gotten, not exactly sad, but a bittersweet feeling from tracks like "We've Only Just Begun". Even though the lyrics are hopeful and positive, the combination of the melody and their performance, particularly in the verses, has that longing and unfulfilled quality. Or maybe it's just that almost indefinable quality of Karen herself. She was a miracle. Tender, sweet, soulful.. full of depth and unbelievable beauty. Heartbreakingly so.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
,,,
I hear the joy and lightheartedness in many of them, but I've always gotten, not exactly sad, but a bittersweet feeling from tracks like "We've Only Just Begun". Even though the lyrics are hopeful and positive, the combination of the melody and their performance, particularly in the verses, has that longing and unfulfilled quality. ...

The longing expressed here is not for the people and the good times of the past, but instead for those one will encounter and experience in the future - it is not a sad or even bittersweet longing - it's an excited and hopeful longing looking at all the possibilities to come - it speaks of "eager anticipation" - the sense of being unfulfilled is there only because one hasn't gotten to that future yet, where all (or most) of one's goals will be achieved, i.e., fulfilled. ,

Yes, one can be a cynic, or a pessimist, and say that the song is all "pie in the sky", that it's unrealistic and deceptive, that things won't turn out as planned, that one's dreams won't be fulfilled, that life is never actually like that, that only failure and disappointment lie ahead - and in the end we'll all be dead. If one takes this approach, if one maintains this fatalistic attitude, then it's inevitable (and no wonder) that one feels sadness - but none of that is in the song's lyrics, and to find all that in Karen's gorgeously uplifting vocal performance (to hear it in her voice) would require the unworldly powers of a Superhero...
 

Another Son

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"...
Exuberance! That’s exactly it! I have always heard exuberance in Karen’s performance of ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ (on record). Not a hint of sadness in it.
 
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