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David Pomeranz Interview on Carpenters and "Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again"

Simon KC1950

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Hi everyone, I interviewed singer-songwriter David Pomeranz over zoom last week. He was so kind and friendly. It was a lot of fun. I have written up the Q&A and have posted it on my Facebook page "The Carpenters: History & News" today to mark the anniversary of the songs release as a single in the UK. If you are on there give it a like to support the page :)

Here is the link to the post, the interview is in photos:

I thought I'd share it here for you all to read... It gives us so many new details about the song and the recording.



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Here it is copied and pasted in full below for you to pick out any quotes for discussions.

David Pomeranz Interview with Simon Worsley


Q: You have been recorded by a huge variety of artists, and I know it's a tough question, which recording of your songs would you say is your favourite by another artist? Or favourites if you want to use more than one.

A:
Wow! Well, interesting I mean one of the ones that made me cry was with Cliff Richard’s version of “I Still Believe In You” - a song I wrote with the great Dean Pitchford. When I first heard it, it was an orchestral thing that they created that I never intended when I wrote the music for it and I felt something well up in me and I started crying. That was a beautiful moment and it made me proud to be a Composer. And others. I mean I just re-heard Karen’s version of “Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again” and I am very anxious to talk about that. That was a great moment. Other aesthetic artistic moments, I guess some of the recordings of - I wrote a Musical about Charlie Chaplin called “Little Tramp” and we did an album of it I co- produced Warner's in the UK and Lea Salonga - you know, from Les Mis and Miss Saigon fame - came in and sang two of her songs in one take …just one take…and I asked her to sing some more just to justify all the studio time I’d booked. That was extraordinary. Lots of chilling moments.

Q: What would you say are your biggest influences. What artists have inspired you as a musician and a songwriter the most?

A:
You know there was a guy, and I don't know how well known he was in the UK, but there was a band called The Loving Spoonful. They had hit records like “Do You Believe In Magic?” And “What A Day For A Daydream” and the lead singer and writer was John Sebastian and to me…well when I got to be a teenager and into my early 20s, he inspired me in my style of performing, When I was a little boy, the great songs from “West Side Story” original cast album. I used to listen to that over and over and it was my very first encounter with being knocked out by music in this lifetime. I knew then and there that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That was Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. They were writing with such craft and with such incredible facility and I could underhand this even at that young age, Then there’s Richard Rodgers, you know of Rodgers and Hammerstein, etc. Then The Beatles came along, and I discovered girls and learned to play drums, piano and guitar in lots of bands and then used the inspiration of those beautiful melodists - to make me want to marry those different musical forms and that’s what I’ve always tried to do and still try to do today.

Q: Would you say there are any of today’s artists who you particularly like?

A:
I like Ed Sheeran because he’s a good lyricist and he is a great performer. And his tunes are great. He's the real deal, you know, like James Taylor was the real deal. I like a lot of guys but, these days, I'm more taken with individual records than a whole career of an artist. You know I hear a record and it goes “zoop!” and comes together for me - Oh, let's see for example would be even the Billie Eilish thing, you know, people say “oh she can’t sing”. Yes, she can...

She’s creative

...and her brother produces. It’s very creative. Very different. Her voice draws me in.

I agree, with her and others today like Shawn Mendes and Lana Del Rey who are others I really like

Shawn Mendes is a tremendous singer. He’s brilliant. He’s great; one of the greats. There are a lot of artists, I’m sure if we were going “blah blah blah” all day we’d mutually come up with lots. It’s like a bit of renaissance out there.

Q: So overall who would you say are your all-time favourites?

A:
Well, of course, “Beatles”, but I have two other notable answers. One as a performer: Judy Garland. She recorded an album in performance at the Palace Theatre on Broadway and it's absolutely extraordinary. Have you ever seen her version of “A Star Is Born”? It is a treat From a musical viewpoint, and it is a very good movie. What they did was they restored it, by the way. When it was first released it was 3 1/2 hours. An executive at Warner Brothers said, “that's too long”, you know, “people won’t sit for it -they have to pee. So, one of the executives cut an hour out of it and it was crap but now they've restored it and you'll enjoy it so much and you'll see why she’s my answer. She was everything. Everything. She gave it all, all heart and soul, all ability, communication like crazy and emotional impact that I have rarely, if ever, seen anyone give. Then there is that guy I spoke about, John Sebastian, but for a different reason. I saw him perform solo at a small club in Greenwich Village and he influenced me as a performer more than anyone. He comes on the stage with his acoustic guitar, I was maybe I don't know 18 and he just talked to us and he embraced the audience, literally embraced you. He was so very charming and smart. He just loved the audience and then he played these gorgeous songs with a twinkle in his eye and I thought, “you know that guy is in communication. He's not apart, he's not a star, he's just there with the folks.” That influenced me enormously as a performer. Of course there are some of the older guys like Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. but with the newer people, technically, you know Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Kelly Clarkson - these artists are SO talented and can really sing their asses off (and their records are so punchy and incredible). In terms of who moves me now, I think the last record that I heard that actually made me cry - I don't mean “sad” cry, but I mean spiritually - was the Evanescence record a few years back, you know the one I mean, I forget the title now - oh yeah, “My Immortal”. Genius record.

Q: What do you think of the Carpenters. In terms of them as musicians?

A
: Richard is such an excellent producer and brilliant Arranger and when I talk about “Trying To Get The Feeling Again” in a minute I'm going to point to something that he thought of that no one else thought up and I really admire Richard. He’s a great melody guy and his instincts in the studio are extraordinary. Karen's voice is uniquely beautiful, and she knew exactly how to phrase a song. There was something “little girlish” and pure and even a little bit heart-breaking in her sound which I think made her all the more compelling. She also had impeccable pitch and was a great Musician. She made millions of people happy and gave us all a great gift with her music.

Q: I read that you have the biggest selling international pop album in the Philippines. You’d be good to speak on this alongside the Carpenters because you both have great success in the Territory. Not just huge at the time but there is longevity. Do you have any idea as to why that is?

A:
I do. I do have an idea about it. First of all, they love the “big melody”, I think it's part of their culture if you could listen to the traditional songs in the Philippines particularly, like with the Carpenters, I’ve played many countries all over the world, but in the Philippines in particular, they love love love melody and they love karaoke and they get a typhoon and they sing and the village falls down and they sing! It’s part of their thing and once they latch on to something they like or someone they like, they’re there for life.

Q: You mentioned in our messages that you were an opening act for the Carpenters, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that recorded anywhere... so where, when, how long?

A
: Yes, I was. It was 1976. It was short lived. We both had the same manager in Los Angeles. It was at a company called BNB. Carpenters were managed by Sherwin Bash (the “B”) and I was managed by Mace Neufeld, (the “N”) in the company. We did only a handful of dates together. But the fun was getting to travel with them and their entourage. Karen was an airplane pilot. I didn’t know she flew. We had a private plane with the band, myself, and my road manager. I remember one time she invited me to come to the cockpit and there she was - flying the plane!! I didn’t know! I sat next to her with the headset on and we chatted about things. I was kind of excited and shocked at the same time, but she was a pro. She knew what she was doing. I remember seeing their show and I was very touched by it and by their effect on the audience. They were so loved. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to socialise with Karen and Richard all that much. I remember sitting in coffee shops with the band because I was just coming up, I was a bit shy, I think.

Q: Moving on now to “Tryin To Get The Feeling Again”, when did you first write the song? And what was the meaning behind it?

A
: Well, I first wrote it in 1974. And the assignment from my Publisher, Warner Bros. Music was to write a song for the Carpenters. I was living in San Francisco at the time and I sat down at my upright piano and worked at creating something that Karen could wrap her beautiful sound around. The subject matter had to do with my rocky first marriage. Even though it was an “assignment”, as a writer you still have to look inside for something that’s true, so I looked at this situation with my wife and the sadness we both felt and decided to pour my emotions into this. So, I submitted my piano/voice demo to them and waited but never heard anything back. Oh well, I thought, I guess they didn’t like it. So, I took the opportunity to re-write some of the lyrics in the beginning and middle of the song that I thought could be better and demo’d a second version. Bette Midler heard it and shared it with Barry Manilow who was her Producer at the time. I had just gotten signed to Arista Records myself and Clive Davis, the President of the company, agreed that it could be a hit for Barry. I was thrilled about this, but I was still bothered by those damn opening and middle lines. So I wrote yet a third version and contacted Barry before his vocal session and I told him I’d improved the lyric. He said “no, no, no it’s great, leave it alone, you’ve gone past it. Don’t be crazy”. He recorded it and had a hit but despite that, I kept working on those infernal lyrics and recorded yet a “THIRD version” on my own album. So, all three recordings have spots with different lyrics.

Q: The Carpenters recorded “Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again” on the 27th of January 1975, were you aware of any recording existing?

A:
No. Not at all. I thought they didn’t cut it.

Q: I know this is a cruel question, but what version do you think is best? Carpenters or Manilow.

A:
Actually, it’s not a cruel question and it's recorded by a lot of people (Gene Pitney, too) but all the versions are as different as the artists are different and (this is not a political answer) they all work for me on their own merits.

I suppose it is a gift as a songwriter to hear all these different interpretations of it.

Yes, it’s a joy. it’s a fabulously interesting thing.

Q: Do you feel if the Carpenters had released it and had a hit with it then Barry wouldn’t have recorded it or you wouldn’t have written a second or third version of it?

A:
I don’t know if I’d have been son dogged on then lyrics, though knowing me - probably. But I sense that if The Carpenters had first released it as a single, Barry and Clive probably wouldn’t have recorded it on Barry’s album as there was so much competition and pressure by all the big acts to have career defining hits.

Q: So, we’ll fast forward. Richard discovers the recording of Karen’s work lead of the song on the 29th of November 1991, did you know then it had been found?

A:
I really didn't know anything about it until the “Interpretations” album was released.

Q: So, he completed the song for release in 1994. It was released as a single in Britain on the 12th of December and became a Top 50 hit on the Official UK charts, did you know that?

A:
No, Really? I’m actually hearing this for the first time

Q: When you first heard it completed on the Interpretations album what did you think?

A:
Well I listened to it cursorily because - and I know this may sound strange - but I felt a little bit upset that they didn't release it before. But, man - what a tremendous honour and relief to find out that it WAS recorded and that it wasn’t that they didn’t like the song after all!

Q: So, in hindsight, having heard it now fully realised, it becoming somewhat of a chart hit, do you feel it was a mistake not to have released it in 1975?

A:
Oh, I couldn’t say. But was it worthy of release? Definitely!

Q: What did you think of Richard’s arrangement of it?

A:
It’s just beautiful. Richard ’is such a talented arranger and Record Producer. So, here’s what he did that was so unique - he treated the section which I considered the “release” of the song as chorus (“read every book, looked, read every meditation and poem…”) - that thing. I wrote it as a release, like a bridge or an addition or something. And Richard decided instead to feature it as a chorus. Barry recorded that section as well but later cut it to save time for Radio. But I was struck when I heard The Carpenter’s version again just today for our meeting at what they saw in it. It was SO THEM! They knew how to make those hit records and they knew what to shine the light on and what to screen into the background - what to feature and make important in terms of rendering a song. Richard repeated the section yet again after that great guitar solo at the end and it sounded to me like one of their hits when I heard it. Genius. I feel so proud but with a slight twinge of regret that although it was now “unearthed” and finally released, that the world really didn't hear it when the group was the peak of their career.

It’s a lost gem isn’t it?

Yeah, it is. It’s Beautifully sung. I’m told it was the first take or something?

Yes, it was recorded by Karen as a work lead to familiarise Joe Osborn on bass and Jim Gordon on drums with the melody

And that’s the first take, isn’t that crazy?

It wasn’t the first time either, another good example is “Superstar” where she did the same thing, signing the lyrics scribbled on a napkin

Oh man! Isn’t that incredible. That speaks volumes for her as a musician, she just knew what to do instinctively, very very good.

Q: You definitely sound like you've changed your views on it almost, you've grown to like it more over the years?

It’s true, I didn't give it full attention when I first heard it, in ’94 for the reasons I cited but now giving it its full due in and its own space and time, I actually feel like it’s actually an ultimate statement of the song itself taking nothing away from Barry’s version. But, to me, she really understood the song. I couldn't ask for a better recording of that song and that's for sure. Aside from my own recording, it’s the best statement of the song AS a song that I’ve heard.

There’s definitely a trend now of looking back on the Carpenters and reflecting on how they were something different and how Karen’s voice was something special.

For sure, like when you heard “Close To You”. And when she gets up, she’s right up close on the mic, right there. The whole quality is just her and it’s beautiful its true.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to finally add on to “Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again”?

A:
I’m proud to say that it was written for the Carpenters and thrilled to find that I actually achieved the goal of their recording it. I’m glad that it exists today for people to enjoy.

Q: A final fun question, of all the songs you have ever written, which one would you chose for Karen Carpenter to record?

A:
Oh! What a great question! ... Wow... There was a song on one of my albums I recorded on the Pacific/Atlantic label called The Truth of Us” and it's a very unusual song. I produced that album with Roy Halee (from Simon & Garfunkel). Anyway, that song would have been killer for Karen. I wrote a lot of ballads that she could have done so beautifully. There is another one called “This is What I Dreamed” which I’d would have loved to have heard her sing. She was singular, unique, all by herself. You can't hear two notes of that voice and not know exactly who it is. That’s rare. That’s extraordinary.
 

gofong14

Well-Known Member
This information is so good. Too bad Karen couldn't have sing more of David Pomeranz songs. Richard could have really arrange the song and I could hear Karen singing The Truth of us, This is what I Dreamed and I still believe in you
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Congratulations on your interview! I really enjoyed reading this. It's fascinating to me that, like a lot of creative people (we have egos), he was actually a bit "annoyed" at his song initially being "rejected" (or he thought it was), but once he moved past that he was able to really appreciate what both Richard and Karen brought to his song.

I think Karen and Richard's version of this song blows away any other version (big surprise, that), including Manilow's, albeit he does a good job with it and I enjoy his version.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Based on David's final comments in Simon's interview concerning songs for Karen, I took the liberty of posting each song from YT:

This Is What I Dreamed

The Truth Of Us


Good fit for Karen? The jury is still out for me...
 

LongAgo

Active Member
Thanks for sharing interview with Mr. Pomerantz. It was a fun read. However, I think Karen fooled Mr. Pomerantz into thinking she was actually flying the plane that day. Her many talents did not include aviation skills or licenses. If Karen was a licensed pilot, that surely would have come up in press releases or interviews over the last 5 decades. However, to reconfirm before posting this, I did reach out to a member of the Carpenter family's closest inner circle who confirmed to me, Karen was not a pilot. However, we do all know, at times her voice could certainly soar!
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Fri Jan 15, 2021 CashBox Magazine Canada
Profile David Pomeranz
DP: "One of my songs, originally written for the Carpenters (“Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again”) found its way to Bette Midler back then and, being produced by Barry Manilow at the time, Bette gave the tape to Barry and suggested he record it. Not only did he have a smash hit with it, but he also did the same later on with “The Old Songs” (co written by David and Buddy Kaye.)."
More here:
 
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