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Music That Influenced Richard and Karen

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
I thought it would be fun to share videos of songs and artists that we know have influenced our favourite duo, what we think of these tracks now and where we hear their influence in the Carpenters’ music. What tracks would you choose?

First up! Let’s go right back to the beginning with two tracks from another ‘duo’ that gave Richard the idea for that overdubbed sound: Les Paul and Mary Ford. These songs are just glorious, from the vocal stacks to the guitar work. I hear what Richard does, that it’s all Mary’s voices, but it’s amazing that they achieved this as early as the 1950s. The reverb on the first track gives it a great bellowing sound!

All Night Long

The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise
 
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Brian

Well-Known Member
A Les Paul & Mary Ford collection could be relaxing to listen to. I like the story of Richard, as a little boy, practising to produce several voices at once, because he believed that’s what Mary Ford was doing on the recordings.
 

AnnaSock

Active Member
A Les Paul & Mary Ford collection could be relaxing to listen to. I like the story of Richard, as a little boy, practising to produce several voices at once, because he believed that’s what Mary Ford was doing on the recordings.
I remember how that story made me smile when I first heard it. I can just picture miniature Richard wandering around, practising :laugh:
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
‘Eleanor Rigby’ has vocal harmonies similar to what Carpenters would use. It also has that melancholy feel that you hear on a number of Carpenters recordings. You can hear little passages of string solos similar to what Richard uses with oboe, etc. Although the string sound in ‘Eleanor Rigby’ is harsher, harder and more dominating than what Richard would feature, you can hear the influence on his arranging. I have loved this Beatles song since I was a quite a small boy.

 

Brian

Well-Known Member
On ‘Eleanor Rigby’, there’s also the haunting, echoed vocal line, ‘Ah, look at all the lonely people’, similar to what Richard used in a number of songs. (Think “What to say” in ‘Superstar’). And there are the “Ahs”! Carpenters used “Ahs” a lot, to voice their harmonies.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
On ‘Eleanor Rigby’, there’s also the haunting, echoed vocal line, ‘Ah, look at all the lonely people’, similar to what Richard used in a number of songs. (Think “What to say” in ‘Superstar’). And there are the “Ahs”! Carpenters used “Ahs” a lot, to voice their harmonies.
This lyrics of this Beatles track are reminiscent of Mr Guder to me.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Wasn’t it written in the Coleman book that Karen admired Matt Monro and even copied his style? Maybe Karen saw this video and wished she was the girl stand in?

Wow! I never knew this guy existed. Great song and I did a little research, a Top 40 hit in the US in 1964 (according to Wikipedia). One of the earliest music videos ever made? What venue would they have shown something like this back then? Top Pops, Shindig!, Hullabaloo? I completely believe that Karen might have seen this and identified somewhat to the raven-haired beauty in the video. And was probably quite taken with it. I think you have a valid point...
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
He was a regular singing star when Karen was growing up and was on tv a lot back in the 50’s and early 60’s. Big powerful voice and did many western themes for tv and movies like Rawhide etc.
Telarc even brought him out of retirement in the 80’s to recreate some great western themes for one of their collections. Great voice.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
I would think that this incredible harmony by a bunch of middle-class kids from the LA suburbs (like Karen & Richard) was a major influence on the duo;

 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Wasn’t it written in the Coleman book that Karen admired Matt Monro and even copied his style? Maybe Karen saw this video and wished she was the girl stand in?

Wow. You can really hear Karen in his verses. Very similar delivery and phrasing. I've never heard him before but now it's quite easy to hear where much of her delivery came from later on.

Ed
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Oops sorry. I get Matt and Frankie mixed up. Thanks for the correction Harry. They both have powerful voices. Frankie did the cowboy songs as Harry wrote. Matt did movie themes and big ballads.
 

ringves

Active Member
I have read somewhere that Richard admired the vocalist John Gary, who was known for his incredible range. And, of course, the C's also admired Perry Como.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Let Go...Let God (ONJ)
Wow. You can really hear Karen in his verses. Very similar delivery and phrasing. I've never heard him before but now it's quite easy to hear where much of her delivery came from later on.

Ed
I’ll have to dig out my Coleman book but I could have sworn that Richard talked specifically about how she was influenced by his singing with certain phrasing. Calling expert residence @GaryAlan do you remember reading that excerpt?
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Coleman, page 253: "Only once did he (RC) comment on her (KC) lead vocal work.
The episode stemmed from their joint admiration of British ballad singer Matt Monro.
....Richard told her this did not sound natural when she adopted her "Matt Monro kick"
on such words (as, 'you' and 'know').

By the way, same page, we read:
Richard Carpenter,
"I picked out a range for her, and the key, and she was pretty much on her own."
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
Coleman, page 253: "Only once did he (RC) comment on her (KC) lead vocal work.
The episode stemmed from their joint admiration of British ballad singer Matt Monro.
....Richard told her this did not sound natural when she adopted her "Matt Monro kick"
on such words (as, 'you' and 'know').
Richard has also cited the song "I Get Along Without You Very Well" as a song he wishes he'd recorded with Karen. Whose version did they admire? None other than Matt Monro. From the "Fans Ask" section of the official site:

Q. In the Ray Coleman book, Richard says that he wishes that he and Karen had recorded more songs of the quality of ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well.’ Was he just speaking hypothetically, or did he and Karen actually record a track of this old standard?”
A"No, not hypothetically. While Karen was in the hospital in New York, I made her some multi-artist cassettes to help her pass the time. On one I put 'I Get Along Without You Very Well' sung by Matt Monro. Karen had always been a fan of his, but had not heard his version of the Hoagy Carmichael standard until this (1982). She called and thanked me for the tape and singled this track out, wanting to sing it herself. Between both our illnesses, we'd lost enough time in the studio and I knew A&M would want us to do new stuff upon our return, so I suggested we pass. Of course, Karen was gone shortly thereafter and I am still upset that we didn't record not only this standard, but any number of others. Karen was born to sing great ballads and, let's face it, they're just not writing too much now that possess much melody or great lyrics."

Carpenters Fans Ask-Richard Answers Archive


One interesting thing here is that Richard says A&M would want them to do new material when they returned in 1983. That pretty much rules out the type of standards album many of us have talked about, similar to what Linda Ronstadt was doing at the time.
 
Richard Carpenter actually mentioned liking the 1960s Frank Zappa (and Mothers) albums.

I suppose the lyrics to "Mr. Guder" have a subversive edge and message to them, though one wouldn't notice (based on just hearing the music, particularly Karen's sweet vocal delivery) unless one was paying attention to the actual words.

Maybe that's as close as Richard got to doing something like "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" from Absolutely Free.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
Richard Carpenter actually mentioned liking the 1960s Frank Zappa (and Mothers) albums.

I suppose the lyrics to "Mr. Guder" have a subversive edge and message to them, though one wouldn't notice (based on just hearing the music, particularly Karen's sweet vocal delivery) unless one was paying attention to the actual words.

Maybe that's as close as Richard got to doing something like "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" from Absolutely Free.
Frank Zappa, in turn, was influenced by the American modernist composer, Charles Ives, (1874 to 1954). I couldn’t recall any music by Ives and when I listened, there were snatches of oboe and short string phrases shadowing main melodies, like you hear in many of Richard’s arrangements. There was also a tendency to change key quickly from major to minor and back again, which gave the music I listened to a bit of a ‘pop song’ sound.

It’s interesting that Zappa was influenced strongly by classical music in his teen years, as Richard was. He liked improvisation and free-form music. Richard may have been following his lead when he told Tony Peluso to begin with the melody for his guitar solo for ‘Goodbye to Love’ and then just play whatever he chose, (although, generally, ‘Goodbye to Love’ is a fairly tightly-structured song - as most Carpenters songs were).

I have a feeling that Richard mentioned Zappa in reference to ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft’, which is generally thought of as a more progressive song than most Carpenters songs were.
 

ringves

Active Member
Another singer that Richard mentioned in the "Fans Ask" section of his website is John Gary. This gentleman was known for his phrasing and his incredible range.

I picked up a few of his cd's and like many of the tracks. I would say, though, that his style of singing is more formal than Karen's delivery. I have always thought of Karen's style as being almost conversational - similar to Bing Crosby's style. If you listen to John Gary, I think you'll agree that his delivery is much more formal / traditional. Grab a listen to him on Youtube and let me know what you think. I'd be interested in hearing other opinions on Mr. Gary's talent.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
Personally, I never cared too much for John Gary. He was a frequent guest star on many variety shows in the 60s and early 70s, like THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, THE DANNY KAYE SHOW, THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, THE GARRY MOORE SHOW, THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW, etc.

"Formal" is a good way of describing his Irish tenor voice, but nothing he ever did was special to me in any way.
 

Sabar

Member
A two-for-one. I think it was in the 1971 pre-Grammy interview that Karen mentioned Bing Crosby as her favorite singer. This clip has Bing singing with Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires. Somewhere Richard mentions being influenced by the harmony style developed by Conlon, citing specifically his work on the Peter Pan soundtrack (Second Star from the Right). Trigger warning: Beware OK Chorale haters! :)
 
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