Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Kencarpenterfan, Nov 19, 2018.
MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING
Argh I can't vote yet because I haven't heard the RPO version yet, but I promise to vote after I get the CD.
Kencarpenterfan, try turning-off your Caps Lock.
I have to go with the Christmas Portrait version. Too many fond memories and that vocal just had so much more joy to it than the 1970 single version, and slightly better phrasing as well. This track is right up there with Yesterday Once More at the top of my personal favorites list. I guess that's why I was so stoked when they were the first 2 tracks to drop on the RPO album. Nothing but good times.
Same, I'll be able to tell you after Dec 7th. (is it 7th?)
I think the live versions of Karen were and will always be a treasure ... and the 1978 version is not the exception...
Yes it’s the 7th
Feb 8th for the LP versions
Will the new album be on iTunes? Is this new track based off the original or 78 cut?
Also, it's 1970 for me. There's real ache in her voice here, and I love her early deeper voice of the early 70s a bit more than her later one. Her voice grew technically richer and more refined in 1971 (quality wise her 69-70 work was still just as powerful) but I love the grit here, it fits the sadness of the lyric in a way her sweetened 1978 vocal doesn't. It's as if she wanted to move past her old approach and in the process didn't put the emotional element into it. Still great to hear but doesn't have the soul.
It never ceases to amaze me how much she evolved that amazing voice in such a short amount of time. In the 68 college show where she sang Dancing In The Street she sounded like she could sing for The Runaways. A very Cherie Currie type of voice, followed by the booming chest vocals in 69-70. Shortly thereafter, she was making the hair on peoples necks stand up with her whispery vocals on Close To You, then came the sassiness and increase of power in 74-75, followed by a mellowing and smooth sweetness in 77-78, and almost a sultry style in 79-80 after the influence the solo sessions had on her.
Like her favorite group, the Beatles, there was quite a bit of growth in a short amount of time. I guess that's one of the things that makes one an artiste.
That's a perfect description of the shifting effect her voice had within a decade. And she sounded just as incredible emotionally in 1969 as she did in 1980/81. That 69/70 chest vocal era is proof that Karen had real power to her voice to those naysayers who say her voice had limits it didn't (and "And When I Die" is chilling proof she could belt right along with, say, the likes of Streisand). She considered this "over singing" in 1978 and claimed in the later 70s she could feel a song better, which might technically be true, but I think her less nuanced, soulful approach could make the lyrics impact more direct; her voice has such an innately rueful glow to it that sometimes not taking a measured approach for a lyric didn't make a difference in the end. Her tones carried it.
But for me this is just a slight preference - her voice was just as spectacular in the later 70s, but she did physically change as a woman and naturally ones voice will grow more developed, I just wish after '75 Richard allowed the arrangements to give her room to demonstrate the power she had in her (AWID was when she was like 16, imagine what a much richer, more consistent belting voice could have sounded like, and thankfully we did hear it here and there). Someone years ago on this board claimed that the yearning in her voice went away after 1975, which I understand what they mean but don't agree. I think because her style did change and we didn't get as many of those more "direct" vocals, for some it feels like a limiting of emotional effectiveness. But I think that even if someone misses her previous style, her matured one is just as haunting, possibly even more beguiling for the way it sneaks around a lyric/melody and when the undiminished melancholy of her voice sinks it's hooks into your soul.
Maybe that's why Karen liked this "new"'voice better; she was singing to us all clearly and sweetly still, but hiding a bit more, looking for comfort within the words that she knew would let her down in the end, but still aching for temporary solace.
1970 for me. I like the rawness in her voice and in the recording, which still retained that edge heard on tracks from the Offering era. The 1978 re-recording is a little too sweet for my liking. The RPO version just goes even further with the sweetness.
So the RPO is the 78 version?
As far as I can tell, yes: the RPO vocal is the 1978 vocal, with new drums and orchestration.
I haven't heard any yet! Will the album be on iTunes as well?
I really like what you wrote above and I had to re quote this part. I agree with you. I’m one that prefers Karen’s later vocals to her early one. I find them much more emotional.
If someone told me I could only have the album TTR or CTY or her solo album, it would be her solo album without hesitation.
So you find her more emotional on say 1978 recordings then the CTY or tan album?
It's on the iTunes store right now for pre-order. I found it listed in the "Pre-Orders" section on the main page. If you search for "Carpenters" it doesn't show up.
This quote (from Rick) is from another thread, for me it sums up the sentiment of Merry Christmas Darling.
I like all versions of this great song. It's fun to hear her sing it in different times in her life. But I think the 1978 version is somewhat immortalized because of the Christmas special and album.
And because it's more played on the radio than the 70 version. Like, I hear the 70 version separate from the CP songs as the 78 cut goes along with that collection because of the voice from that same era. Hearing the 70 version mixed in would be jarring in that collection even though I prefer it.
I picked the 1970 version - no question about it. "Merry Christmas, Darling" was, to those of us around in 1970, Carpenters third big hit record after "(They Long To Be) Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun". And it preceded "For All We Know" by a few months. Radio was different back then. As I've mentioned in another thread, there weren't any all-Christmas stations then, just regular radio stations with occasional Christmas songs in their rotation, and Carpenters new track fit in perfectly.
As the 1970 version was the "hit" version, I will always champion it as the correct and preferred version. The 1978 version is too "conversational" to me (...a "special" one for you...), with Karen attempting to warm her prior vocal up. While I'm not thrilled that the 78 vocal is the basis for the new RPO mix, it's all really OK, as any Karen vocal is superb. But from the "hit record" standpoint, the original single mix can't be beat.
I still remember hearing that on the radio and thinking, "that sounds a lot like the Carpenters" but I hadn't heard about a Christmas release from them.... that was when we didn't sell singles, only tapes (We were just then starting to get into LPs), so it was a surprise to hear it. We sold a lot of copies of Christmas Portrait right up until the end of the store.
Take my upvote!
No. Only Karen’s vocal seems to come from the 78 sessions. The rest of the RPO seems to be a new recording (the 78 mix used the 1970 backing tracks, so stuff like the piano and drums were in mono, whereas on the RPO those are in stereo, with the piano being a electric piano similar to the 1992 remix).
I answered yes earlier because I thought he was referring to the vocal being from 1978, which it clearly is. But the backing track seems new for the most part. So the answer is yes and no . I’m hoping the liner notes will detail all this stuff.
That's a good description for that new vocal, conversational. Her particular reading of that word sounds so different than the original, and if signals that her new interpretation is not one of romantic yearning but rather taking a third person position, removed from the turmoil the lyrics spin.