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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. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    It's been noted in other threads over the years that it was, in large part, the touring that helped kill the recordings. Richard simply was too busy, too stressed, and increasingly too under the influence to write at his best level, and to make the best choices of material and arrangements as a producer.

    Also: Carpenters' concerts being sellouts needs to be put in perspective. Looking at their touring schedule, it's a lot of 5,000-seat or smaller venues. In 1975, the Eagles sold out the Fabulous Forum in L.A. That's 18,000 seats. Elton John did Dodger Stadium for two nights in a row at 55,000 people per night. Sellouts have to be measured against the size of the venue. Put in that perspective, it was clear that the Carpenters were at the "solid corps of die-hard fans" level and not a lot more.
  2. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Excellent points regarding Carpenters' Concert attendance, Mr. Hagerty !
    Performing a cursory news-search, coming up with a few numbers for
    three separate Carpenters Concerts:
    (1) October 27, 1971....17,264 Seats filled.
    (2) October 9,1972.....8,000 seats.
    (3) October 25,1972...4774 seats.

    Now, the same venue for 1971, where Carpenters filled 17,264 seats, also states:
    The Who....33,652
    Jesus Christ Superstar....18,000
    Schenectady Gazette - Google News Archive Search »
  3. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    I'd argue that the Carpenters' peak was 1970-71, not 1975-76. Selling out the Hollywood Bowl (capacity 18,000) in '71 versus '75-76 where the closest they even ventured to their hometown was Fresno's Selland Arena (capacity 5,000, and no word on whether it was a sellout or not).

    As for the records, double platinum for the CLOSE TO YOU album and quadruple platinum for CARPENTERS (the tan album). Compare that to HORIZON, which went platinum, but almost certainly took longer, since its peak chart position was #13.

    And about chart positions...it helps to remember that they are not cumulative. In other words, a chart peak is a snapshot of one week. If that peak is #13, that means there were 12 other albums that sold better on the best week that record had.

    I had never seen the touring schedule until now. Insane both from a standpoint of the number of dates in a year (nobody's built for that) and the towns and venues. This was a multi-platinum recording act. They could easily have established a pattern of 20-25 gigs a year in the 15-20 biggest cities (leave some room for return engagements in the places where sellouts happened the quickest), playing prestige venues of 10,000-20,000 seats. That would have allowed for time to recuperate, write, produce and record. Instead, this looks designed to kill the goose laying the platinum egg.
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  4. Don Malcolm

    Don Malcolm Well-Known Member

    Good stuff, Michael. I think the peak probably extends into 1973--three big singles (#3, #2, #1) but it is probably a "pyrrhic" peak without (as cogently discussed elsewhere by J. Bee...) a more concerted followup LP in 1974 when the momentum was still significant enough that a new LP could have kept things going.

    I think we all agree that the big problem was jumping so hard on the oldies bandwagon, which really began with Now & Then (in what must also have been a concession to the insane touring schedule). AM radio wanted "upbeat" in this time frame and "Postman" came along as kind of a last gasp in that "oldies" run; but the ongoing tour grind in '74 left Richard with too little time to pursue his earlier alchemy with "found songs."

    Additionally, he and John Bettis were having trouble gearing their writing toward "upbeat" and there was no solid followup for "Only Yesterday." By this point in time, Karen's illness is building rapidly into a major problem, which only caused more distractions, leading to the lackluster Hush LP.

    IMO, '73 is the year where someone should have stepped in and called a halt to the touring madness. You could argue that it should have happened earlier, and I sure wouldn't disagree, but '73 is the time when it becomes clear just how badly the toll is building up. (I think Richard and Karen were likely trapped in a "frog in the pot" situation, unable to jump out due to the mindset of those around them--primarily Bash and Agnes, I'd guess.) If Terry Ellis had been on the scene in '73 he might have been able to convince K & R of a "less is more" touring scenario, but he arrived after most of the damage had been done.
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  5. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member


    I'm inclined to say the decline began in '72. After two albums that made it to #2, with singles on them that were either #1, #2 or (in the case of "For All We Know") #3, A SONG FOR YOU peaks at #4, and was held back not by blockbuster monster albums, but by solid but unspectacular hit LPs...CHICAGO V, Elton John's HONKY CHATEAU (two albums before he became truly huge) and Alice Cooper's SCHOOL'S OUT...and the one A SONG FOR YOU's three singles that went top 5 ("Hurting Each Other", which peaked at #2) did so six months before the album was released. "It's Going To Take Some Time" managed to peak at #12 and "Goodbye To Love" got to #7.

    By the time the numbers got better in 1973, it was with material ("Sing") that probably brought some younger kids and pre-teens into the mix...people who were too young to have bought the first four albums. This was about the time that singles, outpaced in sales by albums as early as 1969, really began selling largely to pre-teens and teens under 16. "Yesterday Once More" was, simply, a beautiful song and a great record...and it was released in the midst of the first flowering of oldies as an FM radio format (WCBS-FM, New York; KRTH-FM, Los Angeles). And then, in 1974, as we've discussed...nothing.

    "Only Yesterday" largely worked because 1975 was the year that adult contemporary and Top 40 radio first began having very similar playlists, and the hits (Olivia Newton-John's "Have You Never Been Mellow", Michael Murphey's "Wildfire", Barry Manilow's "Mandy") reflected that. "Only Yesterday" fit the zeitgeist. But in 1976, you had the cosmic shift for Top 40, as it tried to protect against encroachment by FM album rock....Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Queen, Eagles, Peter Frampton....and in that environment, "A Kind of Hush" and especially "I Need To Be In Love" were doomed on Top 40.

    "Goofus" never would have flown anywhere in the Carpenters' time. As I said in an earlier thread, there were a lot of people in the music business with drug abuse problems in the mid-1970s. Only with Richard Carpenter could that drug abuse have resulted in "Goofus".
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  6. MissK

    MissK Active Member

    That's a rather mean-spirited assessment.
  7. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Active Member

    In terms of the market and radio becoming more hostile territory for them by 1976, this does raise a point that I've seen discussed on another post some time ago. Although this is a very hypothetical situation, so I guess there's no obvious answer, if they had, say, released Passage and its accompanying singles (and 'All You Get From Love is a Love Song' as the lead single) in place of the A Kind of Hush album and 'There's a Kind of Hush' as the lead single in 1976, would they have been able to stop the rot in terms of the chart fortunes slipping so dramatically by putting out something less sleepy and more creative?

    I've always felt that 'All You Get From Love is a Love Song's chart fortunes were hobbled by following the damage that A Kind of Hush and its singles did and could have maybe gone Top 10 in better circumstances, but maybe given the changes in the market at that time, it wouldn't have made much difference?
    JBee and GaryAlan like this.
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Again, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation for the thoughtful analysis which this thread has engendered.
    Thanks, All !

    That being said, it is amusing that one looks in vain for either "Goofus" or "Beechwood 4-5789" within the pages of the authorized
    1994 Coleman Biography. Neither word/song appears in the publication's index. Neither song is referenced ;
    those pages which refer to the albums Kind of Hush (Pages:210,211,227,230) or Made in America (Pages: 285-290) fail to make
    mention of either song, also.

    The so-called "Untold Story", as written by Coleman, leaves much untold.

    one still pauses to wonder (or, at least, I do)
    Goofus remained on the Carpenters' 1978 Television Special.
    Beechwood 4-5789
    was lip-synced (as of late 1981) on a Television Program in Europe.

    Coleman (Excerpt,Page 211) :
    ".....they needed an influential show business heavyweight who could get them
    their own TV Special.

    That, Richard was sure, would be a key element in ensuring their longevity..."
  9. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Active Member

    In terms of 'Goofus', I think Richard's hardly ever mentioned it in interviews since its release. Given its omission from nearly all of the many hits compilations, I'd posit that it's the case that he'd rather forget about its existence.

    In fairness to the Ray Coleman book, it doesn't attempt to be thorough in terms of discussing their songs, especially those released as singles in the later years - for instance, 'I Believe You' and the whole issue of the potentially aborted 1978/1979 album are not mentioned at all.

    I think 'Beechwood' was performed during the 1981 European trip as it was released as a single in some territories, so was probably their current release in whichever country they were in at the time. I seem to recall that the infamous interview with Sue Lawley in the UK featured 'Beechwood' playing at the start of it, and it was definitely a single in the UK (although it didn't chart), so that would seem to make sense.

    Gary, in relation to the quote from Coleman about TV Specials being a key long-term strategy, although we may see it differently now, at the time mainstream musicians fronting TV specials was quite a popular move. Presumably Weintraub's intention was that by doing the TV specials, they would be kept visible as an act to the public without the need to tour as much as they had done - and I'm guessing that's why Richard was so keen initially to follow that strategy. Of course, the problem was that the TV special format required a certain pandering to jokes and skits, which is why they haven't aged well. Really they'd have been better off focusing more on the music rather than the promotional trappings that surrounded it.
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  10. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I still don't understand why the MIA album was promoted in October when the album came out in June. It seems pointless and such a long way to have them travel with Karen in poor health when they had clearly missed the boat as far as sales go. Virtually the only thing they did around the time of its release was hold a 'welcome back' party on the lawns of A&M, but that doesn't sell records.
  11. Don Malcolm

    Don Malcolm Well-Known Member

    I think we may just have to agree to disagree on a few of those particulars, Michael. One thing that I think is missing in your otherwise very detailed and knowledgeable discussion is that the C's were instrumental in opening up a world of "soft-rock" Top 40 opportunity with "Close to You" that the rest of the industry, including their own label, pounced on in short order. By 1972, all of the record companies had many such acts in hand and the competition for airplay and exposure was considerably more fraught. A whole army of soft-rock acts, including singer-songwriters, burst onto the scene in 1971-72 and it would be much more difficult to dominate the charts as a result. (And other acts not originally known for operating in that stylistic territory also joined in: Chicago started to transition its sound toward soft-rock in '72, and "Saturday in the Park" was a major reason why their "workmanlike" LP stayed at #1 on the charts across that summer--helping to keep A Song For You at bay.)

    That's one of the key things that's driven home in David Hepworth's new book about pop music in 1971, Never A Dull Moment--there's a reason his subtitle is "the year rock exploded," because it did so in many directions at once, including the soft-rock that was so vilified but that became an incredibly crowded field literally overnight.

    I think Richard successfully tried to hedge all bets with the material on A Song For You, and if there was a slump in '72 at all it was mostly due to his decision to put out two singles that had some sales resistance built into them ("It's Going To Take Some Time" and "Goodbye to Love"). People still bought LPs for #1 hits, and A Song For You's #1 hit ("Top of the World") wouldn't get released until the fall of 1973!! If anything, Richard abandoned the idea of making albums with some added "concept" behind them when he went "oldies" for the second side of Now & Then, which put the C's out of step with the way rock critics had taken to evaluating musical product by that time. Horizon was an attempt to correct that, but by 1975 the beginnings of dance music and disco were already starting to "turn the beat around" and the LP was too ballad-laden to break any new ground for them. "Solitaire" actually was the first 45 to show the breach between Top 40 and AC charts, and in the midst of Karen's battles I think Richard probably just fell back on "oldies" because they simply weren't in the right frame of mind to do anything more adventuresome (which would happen, at least partially, on Passage, but at a point in time when the industry had become even more volatile).
  12. BarryT60

    BarryT60 Well-Known Member

    Three quick points on the last several pots...

    I always personally felt Goofus was a dud. I was stunned when I first heard it - and zipped by it ever since. I mentioned many times here before, the hit on Hush was YOU. It was romantic, you could dance to it - and they did a fine job with the song. Top 10 IMHO... and should have come when the album was released. Hush was en extremely pretty album - (song wise) - at a time when pretty was just not going to happen. An un-hip cover, an over 40 title song, and a third single that ought to have never been recorded.

    Re Horizon and the number 13 sales, one year earlier would have made a world of difference. 1974 could and should have been THE year for these guys. Instead we got a re-tread of I Won't Last A Day, which was really unbelievably sad. That's the year I joined the fan club - and I was so disappointed when that song came out.

    Finally, although I adored All You Get From Love is a Love song, and I really really do - - there's something about that song that seemed to be too "mature" or Easy Listening to me even upon release. (Please don't throw tomatoes at me!!!!).... The woodwind turnaround da da da da-da da... between the lines, When you got to take the blame for a love song - - - - and ----- because the best love songs..... along with the back-ground singers, sounded almost too slick (or when you squint your eyes and turn sideways, cheesy), - for top 40 radio... Like it would have been better in a 60's Bond movie playing while they're walking through a pool scene... My single releases for that album would have been a much bigger surprise, B'Wana and the top-drawer power ballad, I Just Fall In Love Again. Possibly adding Two Sides after Sweet Sweet Smile did it's thing.

    It's easy to critique the various output at this stage of the game, but I should mention, I love every syllable we have from Karen and wish we could have had so much more from both of them.

    Like James, I love all these various perspectives... I think this site is at it's best when we have discussions like this one.
  13. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    How do you feel about the use of the chorale in the final chorus?
    Lots of people name that song as the overlooked hit. I think it works until that final chorus and then jumps the musical shark. Not at all sure the overproduction would have helped its chances. While they missed some cues with "Hush", I think they made the right choices with "Passage"...just a bit too late for recovery at that point. And I still love "Occupants" -- which went Top Ten in our local market.
  14. John Tkacik

    John Tkacik Active Member

    The 45 of "Goofus" in 1976 was the first Carpenters item that I ever purchased so I guess that I am responsible for it's demise on the charts.
  15. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    Quite the opposite! By purchasing the 45, you did your part. If more of us fans had done the same, it obviously would have had a better chart placement.

    Personally, I have never heard "Goofus" on the radio, so at the time, I had no idea that it was even a single. I used to regularly check the racks at my favourite record store for new releases, but I don't recall ever seeing a "Goofus" 45. If I had, I'd have bought it!
  16. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I'm with you, Murray !
    I never heard Goofus on the radio.
    I never saw a 45 of the song in a "record store."
    If I had saw the Vinyl-45, I would have bought the 45, by sight, unheard !

    Thus, a lead-in to my next question(s):
    How did A&M figure how many copies of the 45 to press ?
    Which retail outlets stocked this 45-Single ? Any (Not one I ever visited) ?

    If the radio DJ's did not program the song--the average consumer would not have known of its availability.
  17. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    Gary: In another Carpenters thread about three years ago, I wrote a post that answers a lot of your questions. It also gives a clearer view of exactly what those Billboard chart numbers meant (and more importantly, didn't mean):

    Goofus re-evaluated »
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  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Michael Hagerty !
    And, I must say that post (Goofus re-evaluated) did answer many of my questions !
    With Only Yesterday--peaking at #4--selling a mere 600,000 copies,
    I do not want to fathom how badly the other Singles afterward sold.
    A huge fall in Sales, no matter how it pans out.
  19. BarryT60

    BarryT60 Well-Known Member

    Hey! Re your question on I Just Fall In Love Again - ya know... ordinarily, I detested all use of a chorale on most everything except the Christmas album... However, on I Just Fall In Love Again, it's almost subliminal to me. The build-up featuring the guitar and the orchestra, leading into the last chorus, is so goose-bumpy, the choir in the background discreetly enhances and does not detract. Karen's stronger delivery on the final chorus is pretty terrific as well.... For me, it's just perfection. Finally, the juxtaposition of the almost lullaby ending, from such a dramatic climax - is also one of the song's features. I think it's pretty fantastic from the first note to the last....

    Footnote, as far as Occupants, IMHO, the chorale there is also an enhancement. I suppose with the exception of the background singers on All You Get From Love is a Love Song, I liked the use of other background voices on Passage.
  20. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

  21. JBee

    JBee Active Member

    Maybe I'm off but somehow I think Passage would have been better received if the blah HUSH album (which even Herb had doubts about) was never released. They should have taken all of 1976 off in retrospect, what with the changing management (Bash to Ellis to Weintraub), Richard's coming sleeping pill issues and Karen's collapse in late 1975 (and she still looks painfully thin in the 1976 "A Kind of Hush" promo video, although she was much healthier by the end of that year during their first TV special). They could have taken a breather year off and without the malaise of the HUSH album (and its declining success as seen in its successive singles) and released Passage in '77 as their first album since Horizon. It would have seemed a very different departure and "All You Get From Love is a Love Song" would have received proper attention as their first single in a year or more. Maybe....though I also think Weintraub turning them into an campy oldies band (complete with "Grease" medley) doing their past hits almost exclusively instead of new ones was also a stake through the heart from a marketing/image perspective.

    The Coleman book seems to be all we have (or going to get) as an "official" biography of the duo as a group, which is a shame since it doesn't mention much about the recording history at all (sometimes purposely so as with what the Coleman's bio take on what went down with Karen's solo album and what has come out since). Sometimes one has to read Richard's liner notes to even guess what was going with any particular song, why it was recorded/why it was released, and even that's not much. Which is why I would appreciate a new "musical biography" of the group, apart from the personal history.

    The specials were a good idea. The first one is not bad and was highly rated and it got them back in the public eye. They should have followed special #1 up with a live performance from the Hollywood Bowl (where they won the Battle of the Bands!) or something of that sort. Instead the specials got cheesier and less and less about the music (except for Music, Music, Music, which got vey low ratings and ABC dismissed as something from PBS). Karen also apparently liked making them since SHE wanted to move into TV/acting more (even if Richard didn't, and whatever Richard says now about them, back then both Carpenters seemed pleased with the specials, even RC).
    BarryT60 likes this.
  22. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Even most documentaries on the duo skip over the A Kind Of Hush and Passage albums. At the same time, while Christmas Portrait does get talked about, it is usually very quick and then onto how Karen solo album seemed to be the major tipping point for her downward slide towards what ultimately happened.
  23. natureaker

    natureaker Active Member

    As much as I love both songs, this decision (surprisingly) wasn't that hard for me to make. I think that Goofus is much worse that Beechwood 4-5789, making me go with Goofus as their worst single out of the two. But who knows, I may come back to this thread in the future and think totally different, and have some good reasons why...
  24. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    I went to two Carpenters tribute concerts last year and one of them actually did Beechwood. I could hear a couple of people around me saying they'd never heard of it before.

    It has never been one of my favourites but performed live I thought perhaps I'd developed a new appreciation of it. But when I played it at home the next day I was left feeling lukewarm about it again. My better half was surprised the song was off a later album, assuming it was an earlier recording.

    When I first heard the song (on the Reflections compilation album) I didn't know that they were perhaps too old to record it and I hadn't seen the video. For me, it's just too slick sounding and by the numbers, lacking the fun and energy of Mr Postman. To be fair to Richard and Karen though I'm not all that keen on the original version either.

    For me Goofus is by far the more interesting song and underrated. Completely daft choice for a single though.
  25. natureaker

    natureaker Active Member

    After listening to Beechwood and Goofus a bit more and re-thinking my answer, I decided that I really do like both songs. I feel like it was sorta a bad idea to release Goofus as a single, thinking business wise. I feel like Beechwood is the stronger single, if we're talking business wise, I suppose.
    If we're talking about which one I like better now, I'd have to say Goofus. But don't expect this to be my final answer, as my opinions tend to change alot

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