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Comparing Carpenters’ Versions With Other Versions

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I’m not sure if a similar thread has appeared, but I’ve often found it interesting to hear on this site original versions of Carpenters songs, or versions by other artists. It might be interesting to post a couple of versions and compare them or just discuss a few versions of the same song.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
On this site, I’ve noticed that quite a few members seem to like Karen’s ‘My Body Keeps Changing my Mind’. Many are aware that Johnny Mathis recorded the song around the same time.

I believe Johnny Mathis had / has a beautiful voice which sounds particularly wonderful on his recordings from the 1950s and 1960s. I love all those slow, lounge-room-jazzy ballad standards of his.

Johnny also dove into disco in the late 70s, interestingly, reinterpreting some of those standards from the 1930s and 40s into the dance genre. And he did it well, sometimes. I like his disco versions of ‘Night and Day’ and ‘Begin the Beguine’ - although they weren’t really going to be contenders for hit singles, at the time.

Johnny’s version of ‘My Body Keeps Changing my Mind’ maybe has a more basic introduction than Karen’s. Somehow, the chord progression there seems more limited and I think it’s because of that descending bass line, just going down the scale note by note.

Johnny’s version makes the message of the song more explicit than Karen’s. If you didn’t get what the song was about, Johnny spells it out with, ‘It’s impossible resisting you and I can feel what this is leading to’. Interesting that Karen left that line out.

To me, the background vocals on Johnny’s version seem a bit incongruous with the driving disco beat. I think it’s because, in the chorus, the predominant female background vocal line is an exact octave higher than Johnny’s, giving that part of the song a school-room sing-along feeling over a grinding dance beat.

I think Rod Temperton did a good job of arranging Karen’s background vocals. They’re not as intricate as on some of the other songs on her solo album but they’re interesting.

Karen’s version of ‘My Body Keeps Changing my Mind’ has the often-present disco horns adding their own conversation to the message of the song; evoking certain feelings to go with various lyrical phrases. Johnny’s uses the disco strings to the same effect.

I think Johnny does a good job of sounding breathless and yearning. His vocal is almost a male ‘Love to Love you, Baby’. And the writers have referenced that Donna Summer song, (‘I’d sure love to love you’), just in case we were still pondering over what this ditty might be about. All in all, Johnny does sound a bit uncomfortable with the song, though, in terms of his phrasing, in places.

In terms of Karen’s vocals, to my ears, the best element is the backgrounds. I like her harmonies but don’t like her lead as much.

Personally, i’m a bit tepid on both Karen’s and Johnny’s versions. However, they both have their strengths and weaknesses, in my opinion.

As they say, everyone is an arm-chair critic.


 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
On this site, I’ve noticed that quite a few members seem to like Karen’s ‘My Body Keeps Changing my Mind’. Many are aware that Johnny Mathis recorded the song around the same time.

I believe Johnny Mathis had / has a beautiful voice which sounds particularly wonderful on his recordings from the 1950s and 1960s. I love all those slow, lounge-room-jazzy ballad standards of his.

Johnny also dove into disco in the late 70s, interestingly, reinterpreting some of those standards from the 1930s and 40s into the dance genre. And he did it well, sometimes. I like his disco versions of ‘Night and Day’ and ‘Begin the Beguine’ - although they weren’t really going to be contenders for hit singles, at the time.

Johnny’s version of ‘My Body Keeps Changing my Mind’ maybe has a more basic introduction than Karen’s. Somehow, the chord progression there seems more limited and I think it’s because of that descending bass line, just going down the scale note by note.

Johnny’s version makes the message of the song more explicit than Karen’s. If you didn’t get what the song was about, Johnny spells it out with, ‘It’s impossible resisting you and I can feel what this is leading to’. Interesting that Karen left that line out.

To me, the background vocals on Johnny’s version seem a bit incongruous with the driving disco beat. I think it’s because, in the chorus, the predominant female background vocal line is an exact octave higher than Johnny’s, giving that part of the song a school-room sing-along feeling over a grinding dance beat.

I think Rod Temperton did a good job of arranging Karen’s background vocals. They’re not as intricate as on some of the other songs on her solo album but they’re interesting.

Karen’s version of ‘My Body Keeps Changing my Mind’ has the often-present disco horns adding their own conversation to the message of the song; evoking certain feelings to go with various lyrical phrases. Johnny’s uses the disco strings to the same effect.

I think Johnny does a good job of sounding breathless and yearning. His vocal is almost a male ‘Love to Love you, Baby’. And the writers have referenced that Donna Summer song, (‘I’d sure love to love you’), just in case we were still pondering over what this ditty might be about. All in all, Johnny does sound a bit uncomfortable with the song, though, in terms of his phrasing, in places.

In terms of Karen’s vocals, to my ears, the best element is the backgrounds. I like her harmonies but don’t like her lead as much.

Personally, i’m a bit tepid on both Karen’s and Johnny’s versions. However, they both have their strengths and weaknesses, in my opinion.

As they say, everyone is an arm-chair critic.


It's interesting that the lines in the first verse are flipped around. Karen sure did love to mess with lyrics, didn't she? The second verse and bridge are different too. Johnny's sounds fine in an "assembly line disco"-kinda way but Karen's has a sparkle that his just doesn't have.

Ed
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
It's interesting that the lines in the first verse are flipped around. Karen sure did love to mess with lyrics, didn't she? The second verse and bridge are different too. Johnny's sounds fine in an "assembly line disco"-kinda way but Karen's has a sparkle that his just doesn't have.

Ed
Yes, it does have a spark.

I agree - interesting that Johnny sings, ‘You, you’re turning me on. You’re making me high’, while Karen sings, ‘You - you’re driving me wild. You’re making me fall in love’. She and Phil made the opening lines less suggestive and took out the drug-related phrase. Just an observation - neither intro is better or worse.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
Yes, it does have a spark.

I agree - interesting that Johnny sings, ‘You, you’re turning me on. You’re making me high’, while Karen sings, ‘You - you’re driving me wild. You’re making me fall in love’. She and Phil made the opening lines less suggestive and took out the drug-related phrase. Just an observation - neither intro is better or worse.
Just curious: Are we certain Karen and Phil changed the lyrics to be "less suggestive;" or could it be JM changed the lyrics for his version? I guess I'm asking if this is an "assumption" or actually documented somewhere?
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Just curious: Are we certain Karen and Phil changed the lyrics to be "less suggestive;" or could it be JM changed the lyrics for his version? I guess I'm asking if this is an "assumption" or actually documented somewhere?
We're not certain but she certainly has done it before. The most famous example of "Superstar" which she changed "to sleep with you again" to "to be with you again".

Ed
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Or Still Crazy After All These Years, changed crapped out to crashed out. More her classy style I think.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
We're not certain but she certainly has done it before. The most famous example of "Superstar" which she changed "to sleep with you again" to "to be with you again".

Ed
Turns out that was a stroke of genius by Richard as "be with" and "sleep with" in the context of the lyrics means exactly the same thing. But not offensive to the Top 40 radio audience of 1971. As I recall, Bonnie Bramlett who allegedly wrote the lyrics didn't like that the Carpenters had changed it. What a change in just a few short years you would have More, More, More; Afternoon Delight, and Love To Love You Baby. Also, Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye (1973). All big hits.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Turns out that was a stroke of genius by Richard as "be with" and "sleep with" in the context of the lyrics means exactly the same thing. But not offensive to the Top 40 radio audience of 1971. As I recall, Bonnie Bramlett who allegedly wrote the lyrics didn't like that the Carpenters had changed it. What a change in just a few short years you would have More, More, More; Afternoon Delight, and Love To Love You Baby. Also, Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye (1973). All big hits.
I actually prefer "be with" as it "sings" better than "sleep with". I think "sleep with" is more explicit in meaning and statement. To my way of thinking, "sleep with" doesn't even need to be said. "Be with" puts the sentiment across in a more succinct way.

That Bonnie had a problem with that indicates that Richard didn't ask first and he certainly should have. It's just proper etiquette. The way it's normally done is you get through to the writer and let him/her know that you'd like something changed and give them the opportunity to do it. If they can't/don't want to, they then allow you to do it or they don't. Doing things this way prevents ill will. Richard did exactly that when he went to the writers of "Make Believe It's Your First Time" and asked them to write a bridge that wasn't part of the tune previously. Not sure why he didn't do it here.

Either way, as was said, she did change have "crapped out" changed to "crashed out" which, to my mind, is pretty silly. Because I'm more familiar with Karen's rendering of "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind", the changes there don't really qualify as changes to me. Johnny's lyrics are the changed ones as far as I'm concerned and that could even be the reality.

Ed
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I have heard the Johnny Mathis version of 'My Body Keeps Changing My Mind' before and it's pretty flat and pedestrian. As Ed aptly put it, it's real 'assembly-line disco'. I know some fans have a problem with this song, but Karen's version is so much more full and lively.

On the 'crapped out'/'crashed out' lyric change in 'Still Crazy...', maybe in hindsight it seems unnecessary, but I think it's worth remembering that back in those days, it wasn't a level playing field in terms of what the genders could get away with saying. Far more people would have been bothered by a female vocalist singing 'crapped out' than they would a male vocalist, so there were societal constraints on Karen as well as the 'goody goody' image constraints that she already had to deal with.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I actually prefer "be with" as it "sings" better than "sleep with". I think "sleep with" is more explicit in meaning and statement. To my way of thinking, "sleep with" doesn't even need to be said. "Be with" puts the sentiment across in a more succinct way.

That Bonnie had a problem with that indicates that Richard didn't ask first and he certainly should have. It's just proper etiquette. The way it's normally done is you get through to the writer and let him/her know that you'd like something changed and give them the opportunity to do it. If they can't/don't want to, they then allow you to do it or they don't. Doing things this way prevents ill will. Richard did exactly that when he went to the writers of "Make Believe It's Your First Time" and asked them to write a bridge that wasn't part of the tune previously. Not sure why he didn't do it here.

Either way, as was said, she did change have "crapped out" changed to "crashed out" which, to my mind, is pretty silly. Because I'm more familiar with Karen's rendering of "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind", the changes there don't really qualify as changes to me. Johnny's lyrics are the changed ones as far as I'm concerned and that could even be the reality.

Ed
With “Superstar”, wasn’t Karen also singing the words from a napkin that someone had jotted them down on? Maybe whoever jotted them down couldn’t remember “sleep” and put “be”?
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
We're not certain but she certainly has done it before. The most famous example of "Superstar" which she changed "to sleep with you again" to "to be with you again".

Ed
So we are assuming/speculating Karen and Phil changed the lyrics to be less suggestive. It's not a fact of what happened in the studio. It would be interesting to see the original lyrics as written by the lyricist. Probably give us a better perspective why the differences in both versions. SInce we're speculating, I'm thinking it possible that both versions have altered lyrics from the original.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
So we are assuming/speculating Karen and Phil changed the lyrics to be less suggestive. It's not a fact of what happened in the studio. It would be interesting to see the original lyrics as written by the lyricist. Probably give us a better perspective why the differences in both versions. SInce we're speculating, I'm thinking it possible that both versions have altered lyrics from the original.
I believe Richard has said as much about changing the lyric, hasn't he?

Ed
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I believe Richard has said as much about changing the lyric, hasn't he?

Ed
In reference to "My Body..." on Karen's solo, I'm not sure if Richard stated this. That's what I'm asking, I guess. It was remarked that Karen and Phil changed the lyrics compared to JM's version. How do we know that for a fact and that JM didn't change the lyrics for his version? Who's version is the more true to the original lyricists version and how do we know that for certain?
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
In reference to "My Body..." on Karen's solo, I'm not sure if Richard stated this. That's what I'm asking, I guess. It was remarked that Karen and Phil changed the lyrics compared to JM's version. How do we know that for a fact and that JM didn't change the lyrics for his version? Who's version is the more true to the original lyricists version and how do we know that for certain?
I was talking about Superstar. Karen was said to be uncomfortable with "sleep" so it was changed to be at her behest. Of course, you're right about "...Body...". We may never know.

Ed
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Turns out that was a stroke of genius by Richard as "be with" and "sleep with" in the context of the lyrics means exactly the same thing. But not offensive to the Top 40 radio audience of 1971. As I recall, Bonnie Bramlett who allegedly wrote the lyrics didn't like that the Carpenters had changed it. What a change in just a few short years you would have More, More, More; Afternoon Delight, and Love To Love You Baby. Also, Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye (1973). All big hits.
In 1972 the Raspberries had a huge hit with "Go All the Way", which is really sexually suggestive for 1972. I cannot prove this, but I've read that the line "how I love her, screwin' me" is in that song. It sure SOUNDS like it, although that's not what the lyrics sheet shows LOL. If so, wow! for that time.

In 1975, Miracles by Jefferson Starship included the line "went I went down on you"...yes, in just a few short years lyrics were becoming more overtly sexual.

Personally, I think the fans would have been fine with "sleep with"; it was the label's concern about their image and, of course, with the Carpenters only recently hitting stardom, I wouldn't be surprised if Karen and Richard had a concern about alienating fans if they crossed whatever that imaginary "suggestive/overt" line was, in 1971.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
The Raspberries song "Tonight" (from 1973 "Side 3") had Eric Carmen sayin' "Won't you let me sleep with you baby" BUT the 45 single does NOT have that line because it was cut!! That song went to # 69 in October 1973 on Billboard Hot 100 Charts. The song "Go All The Way" went to # 5 in October of 1972. "Miracles" by Jefferson Starship was 6:52 (album version) which the single edited version was less than 4 minutes.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
How about the obvious recordings to compare - Carpenters’ and Anne Murray’s versions of ‘I Just Fall in Love Again’.

Anne Murray’s version has predominantly an acoustic piano sound, giving it largely a piano-and-vocal feel, but, of course, there are also bass, guitars and drums. The string arrangement doesn’t come to mind when thinking of her version, although it’s certainly there.

Carpenters’ version has mainly an electronic sound but also has a very present arrangement played by a huge orchestra, and a large choir.

Some of the sentiments woven into the song might be thought of as ‘I can’t believe I’m here with you - it’s like a dream’, ‘You take me to the stars and back’, ‘Touch me and I’m in heaven’ and ‘Your eyes cast magic spells’. It’s clearly an overly romantic lyric, pretty much evoking fantasy land and fairytales. Carpenters’ version takes this theme to the hilt, with various instrumental phrases embellishing the lyrics, including the two melting lullaby-type chords on the keyboard, right at the end.

Karen herself emphasises this fairytale-type feeling with her expressive vocal. Anne Murray’s vocal is also expressive but she sings the song quite straight. Her version is rooted in reality - you picture her, a country-rock singer, just standing up at the microphone and singing.

Although Karen’s singing style is often described as conversational, I think of Anne Murray’s version as being a bit like a warm, heart-to-heart chat. Karen is somewhere beyond the rainbow with Carpenters’ take on the song.

Carpenters’ version is considerably longer, has the extended guitar solo and the key change. Anne Murray’s version just focuses upon presenting the bare bones of the melody and lyrics.

These are two totally different versions, but both done well, in their respective styles, (in my opinion).
 
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ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Alabama did "Touch Me When We're Dancing". There's also Michael Franks' "B'Wana He No Home" which is, of course, the original.

Ed
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
When you talk about "suggestive" lyrics in songs, I'm sure Frank Zappa had that covered long before the 1970s.
 
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