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Goofus vs BEechwood 4-5789/Worst single release

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by adam, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. Goofus doesn't deserve its reputation at all. I think it's rather brilliant and one of the best tracks from that album, actually.
    Actorman and GaryAlan like this.
  2. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    "Goofus" a cool track? Sure. I've heard a few version of it that are decades old. But it's definitely not single material. It's a nostalgia piece for sure, written in the 1930s and recorded by Les Paul (#21 pop) and Phil Harris (non-charting--the B-side became the hit instead) in 1950.

  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Richard Carpenter:
    " I now feel I was not at my best, and am not pleased with some of the material chosen, such as Goofus, and Breaking Up Is Hard To Do."

    My question in light of that quote:
    How much better was he feeling for choosing Beechwood 4-5789 as a Single (let alone recording it at all) ?

    By the way, I like both songs.
    If, by "single material" we substitute "commercial potential" as one definition, then, perhaps, neither has "it".
    But, in certain respects, both have their creative sparks. (Sparks, but no explosions ?).
    Given the rather low charting of I Need To Be In Love, maybe that spurred the decision to release Goofus as a single.
    Given the low charting of Those Good Old Dreams, maybe that tipped the scales for Beechwood 4-5789 ?
  4. The "Beachwood" release was a success. It garnered an unheard of 5th top 30 single from one album on the Adult Contemporary chart and an equally impressive 5th single to make the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart from one album. By 1982, easy listening acts of the 70's had fallen out of favor with pop radio stations. John Denver was struggling, Helen Reddy couldn't buy a Hit 100 single, nor could the Captain & Tennille. Abba's second single from their current album struggled to make #63 and their third single didn't make the Hot 100 at all. Barbara Streisand's latest single peaked at #52. The following year Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond would hit the Top 40 for the last time. The Carpenters would never reach the Hot 100 singles chart again. Getting a Hot 100 single for a 70's easy listening acts around this time was not easy, but to get a 5th single from one album into the Hot 100 amazed me then and it amazes me today. "Beachwood" is the only single that could have accomplished this rare chart feat because it was catchy and bouncy enough to draw interest from some radio stations. Another ballad would have been a certain miss. Given the state of music at the time, it was a genius move.

    All of the above comments are based on the perspective from the music industry in general, which I followed very closely at the time. Now here's how I feel about the song, "Beechwood". It is the second lowest charting single of all of the Carpenter singles released in the 80's in my personal Top 40 chart that I compiled every week throughout the 80's. Here's how the "Made In America" singles released in the 80's performed on my chart:

    Peak Song
    2 Touch Me When We're Dancing
    3 (Want You) Back In My Life Again
    8 Those Good Old Dreams
    27 Beachwood 4-5789

    From my personal perspective, it might be considered a mistake. But only from the perspective of how their other singles performed on my chart.

    As a side note, I also compiled a top 40 album chart every week and the "Made In America" album spent 9 weeks at #1 and a total of 44 weeks on the LP chart. The album that preceded "MIA" at #1 was "Long Distance Voyager" by the Moody Blues and the album that knocked the Carpenters out of #1 was "Time" by the Electric Light Orchestra.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
    Jamesj75 and goodjeans like this.
  5. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    "Goofus" is fine as an album cut, but it should never have gone beyond that. I think "Beaking Up" would've made a better choice in 76 as a single, since it has that little bit of disco to it, and reminds me of Shaun Cassidy's "Da Do Ron Ron" and the beat Cassidy used for "Morning Girl" from his self-title debut album.

    And even now, just looking at all the singles that they released between 1970 & 1978, I think "Goofus" is probably the one single that doesn't get anthologized, except on the Complete Singles. In a way, it's almost become the "black sheep" of all the Carpenters singles.
  6. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    With a great "Carpenters-template" song like "I Need to Be In Love" tanking, they were quite obviously grabbing at straws from that point on in search of something that might stick. "Goofus" and "Beechwood" were both attempts at making the "Postman" lightning strike again, but with no success.

    I've said it before but it bears repeating - it's too bad the Carpenters didn't venture more into country material. They had a couple hits in that genre and could have done it quite well. A few other '70s and '80s pop stars went that route (Bellamy Brothers, Exile, Kim Carnes, Debby Boone) with varying degrees of success.
    goodjeans and GaryAlan like this.
  7. Bellamy Brothers & Exile were guys who could look, act, and sound country. Kim Carnes only had country success when pairing with an existing country legend, Kenny Rogers. And Debby Boone didn't sell anywhere near the records the Carpenters sold in the 80's when she went country. Perhaps they would have considered it if "Sweet Sweet Smile" would have been more successful. That is a phenomenal record, yet country fans were apparently not embracing the Carpenters because that was clearly good enough to be a #1 country song and a pop crossover smash.

    The Carpenters were releasing amazing material in the late 70's, but disco ensured they would only succeed on the AC chart and by the time 1981 came around, early 70's soft rock acts like the Carpenters, James Taylor, David Gates/Bread, Carole King, and yes, even the Bee Gees would struggle continuing their popularity. The life cycle of a music artist is cruel and unfair, especially the ones who have a clean image.
    goodjeans likes this.
  8. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    Which goes to show, that adding to your already-growing ambition borders on bombast, while unfortunately denying yourself experimentation and musical growth, will make you a bore...

    -- Dave
    Mark-T likes this.
  9. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Out of the material on MIA, I think "Beechwood", "(Want You) Back In My Life" and "Touch Me When We're Dancing" were positioning the Carpenters for success in the 80's. Especially Back In My Life, with the mix of traditional Carpenters sound and the mixing of electronic music. And had Karen lived, I could see her convincing Richard to go that way, and I still feel that the Carpenters could've made a very big impact in the 80's. I think that, had Karen still been alive, the producers of "Dirty Dancing" would've approached them and had them record "I've Had The Time Of My Life", which as we know now, is one of the top songs of the 80's, and every time that I hear the song, I can very easily (and I even had a dream once of Karen singing the song) hear Karen singing the Jennifer Warnes part. And I could see Karen doing the song with Bill Medley. "I've Had The Time" I can easily see as being inspired by the arrangement of "Back In My Life" that the Carpenters did.

    And I'm surprised that Richard hasn't followed Rod Stweart and Barry Manilow, who have had success on the charts since the early 2000's with their respective 20th century look back albums.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  10. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    That's why I said "varying degrees of success." Kim Carnes did one country album, View from the House, which had a killer tune "Gypsy Honeymoon" that should have been a hit single.

    The Carpenters never really did anything full-on country; they just put a steel guitar in a couple of songs and country radio picked up on those. If they'd really gone in and done a full-on country album, they could have had some great success. It would have meant altering their trademark sound somewhat -- maybe a little less orchestration on the ballads -- so who knows, it may not have worked. But nobody knew Exile was a country act until they put out a country album.

    It's all speculation after all, but it's fun to think about what could have happened.
    Bobberman likes this.
  11. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Great album. Her "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness" cover, "If You Don't Want My Love" and "Just to Spend Tonight With You" were also excellent. Not what I consider country, but sure, if Carpenters had gone that route they could have done some amazing things.
  12. motownboy

    motownboy Active Member

    In retrospect, I have started to like "Goofus" a lot. I thought it was horrible back in 1977 and wondered why it was selected as a single. The cleverness of the song and performance escaped me as a teenager. Still, it was not good single material.

    As a big Motown fan, I never really liked "Beechwood....", not even The Marvelettes' original. I thought it was a bad choice for a cover, though I really liked the cover of "Please Mr. Postman."

    I have to think that Richard especially was a bit out of touch with the direction of popular music at the time, but was true to his own musical vision.
    Mark-T and dvakman like this.

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    Whether it's Postman, Goofus, Beechwood or whatever. Same difference as to any of the other oldies in terms of categorization. Some are more popular than others. It was a hit or miss kinda thing, but that's just something they decided to take on. At the time it was an enjoyable thing, but hindsight is 20/20 and gee sometimes you think "why didn't they do that instead?". I think Postman is a bit dated now lyrically, but sounds lovely still. I think these other two hold up more in that way.
    You have to hand it to Karen for some of the songs she suggested they do. I think Goofus was more of a KC idea wasn't it? It's a lot of fun still. That first part when the vocal overdubs come in is perfect. Beechwood isn't the worst thing that ever was, but yea questionable for why it was singled out. It does show a repeated formula.
  14. goodjeans

    goodjeans Active Member

    ..."Gypsy Honeymoon" is one of my favorite songs MB. I totally agree with your comment.
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    As I listened to the 45-single of Goofus, this morning,
    it occurred to me that Karen is singing lead vocals in both high and low voices
    on this record. She is alternating one to the other, from verse to verse.
    Starting lower (first verse) proceeding to the second verse (higher ! " Corn-fed chords appeal to me....").
    Yet, another aspect of this song which captivates me. (And, that sax interlude !)
    Hey, I unabashedly love this song....can't help myself !
  17. I can't recall where (perhaps the commentary track on the 40th-box version of the "Gold" DVD), but Richard said something to the effect of remaking "Beechwood" was Karen's idea. It really made her happy, and, though he was against it in every way, he just didn't have the heart to talk her out of it.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I re-viewed the 40th Anniversary DVD, I am unable to ascertain at which point Richard Carpenter
    makes the above claim . He does state that he does not like the video for these reasons:
    the poor dancing, the chrome jukebox setting, Karen's physical appearance (this in June 1981).
    Of course, Richard Carpenter may have made those claims, I simply have not found it on the DVD.
    The promo spot for Beechwood 4-5789, from the record store promo, gives no indication--- except enthusiasm
    from both---that the song was (at that time) a winner.
    Interesting,though, to compare the (June) Touch Me When We're Dancing Video
    to the live performance given months (four?) later in 1981.
  19. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    With the Beechwood video, at the very least the one thing that's not the best in it is Karen. The clothes she has on, and just her overall appearance make her look older by about 25 years than she really was. Instead of looking in her early-thirties, Karen looks like she is in her late-fifties/early-sixties. I realize that for the video they were going for a 1950's look, but surely the costume department could've found Karen a skirt that didn't look so stiff and starchy.
  20. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    If that's the case then it's interesting...a lot of us have questioned (and even blamed) Richard for recording this song as late as 1981 (and releasing it as a single in 1982), when it may have been down to Karen all along. Here's a thought: maybe they were both out of touch with musical trends and the general public's tastes by the early 1980s, not just Richard.
  21. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I didn't know Richard said that in the 40th DVD are you sure? I need to re watch it again. I thought he was basically saying he disliked the video not just because of how Karen looked but the dancers were a joke. I didn't know he said Karen wanted them to record it. It's a nice song but I still don't think it's something Carpenters should have been recording in 1981 and certainly not single material for 1981.
  22. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    She was only 31 at the time, but part of the problem was they were already recording much more sophisticated stuff by then. So was the rest of the recoding artists at that time- or they were recording trashy stuff like "More, More, More"... :wink:
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Not only am I unable to find (or, rather "hear") said commentary by
    Richard Carpenter on the 40th Anniversary DVD,
    take note of this:
    Carpenters Fan Club Newsletter#74 April 1982:
    "It was not decided until after the last newsletter was published (#73 January 1982)
    that Richard decided to release Beechwood 4-5789 on Karen's birthday."
    and this,
    Anthology Liner Notes: "a tune that Karen and I had wanted to do for years."
  24. Superstar

    Superstar Rainy Day and Monday Specialist

    I think their country album would have needed to be really solid for the C&W fans of the day to latch on. I remember when Shania Twain was a big deal because she was able to appeal to both a pop and country fan base and they made her seem like a pioneer, in a way. Since then, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, the Band Perry, and Darius Rucker have also crossed the aisle, so to speak, and I am sure several others. I'm not sure that the country fans would have been as welcoming back then. Maybe if she had done some duets with some country stars first? As you said, who knows?
  25. BarryT60

    BarryT60 Well-Known Member

    Regarding country feeling tunes, 'Two Sides' would have been and should have been an obvious follow-up to 'Sweet, Sweet Smile'. A miss as far as single releases, IMHO.... & all the country stations that propelled SSS to the top ten - would likely have added it right away - with more to follow suit, I'd imagine. Oh well...
    GaryAlan likes this.

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