• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

Neil Sedaka talks about writing "Solitaire" in new exclusive interview

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Lyricist Philip Cody:
"... Richard asked me to make some of the word choices a little softer, sonically. And it was okay once I let go of the idea that my lyrics were inviolate.
It went rather smoothly. Over the course of time, as the Carpenters did the song, they basically did a mash-up of the old lyric and the new lyric, which actually was better than either of the two, the Andy Williams or Neil's original. I think the Carpenters' version was the one that I like best."
"... when I heard Karen Carpenter, I had chills down my spine. As a lyricist, you want that thing where an artist owns your lyric. You can measure success by the amount of money you make off a song, but I measure the success of that song by that particular moment, when she made it totally her own. And it's still great. I sat down one day and I listened to all 90 versions of "Solitaire" that people have done, and of all the ones that are out there, Karen Carpenter's is still the one that is the benchmark for all the covers on that song."

Source:
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
He's still a little full of himself after all these years and refuses to take any of the blame for being fired as the Carpenters opening act in 1975. That said, I do admire him as an artist and he has a place on my list of pop music legends.
 

Proudofyou

Well-Known Member
Is it me or did the entire tone of the interview change when he mentioned about the firing. I adore his work, but I hope they would have patched things up by now or at least let it go. Everyone was young and under pressure. I do agree that hers is the definitive recording.
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
It did and I'm curious to see if the Sedaka firing is covered in the new book and I'm not looking for Chris to divulge anything because I can wait until November. I do wonder if Neil reached out and called, would Richard talk to him and finally make peace after all these years? It would surely have made Karen happy if she was still with us because it was an unsettling situation for her from what I've read.
 

Proudofyou

Well-Known Member
Imo he didn't need to bring it up. Why drudge up old wounds either way? Well, enough of me going off track....but at least we have that track.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately, it seems to me, the "Sedaka incident" derailed Carpenters' career
to a greater extent than anyone at the time could ever have imagined it would.
Regardless of personality, I will not deny that Sedaka is musically brilliant in his own way.
Did Richard keep the recordings of those 1975 'Carpenters-Sedaka' concerts ?
Did Richard and Neil ever speak amicably again ?
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately, it seems to me, the "Sedaka incident" derailed Carpenters' career
to a greater extent than anyone at the time could ever have imagined it would.
Regardless of personality, I will not deny that Sedaka is musically brilliant in his own way.
Did Richard keep the recordings of those 1975 'Carpenters-Sedaka' concerts ?
Did Richard and Neil ever speak amicably again ?
After Richard and Neil both die, I can see Universal or another record label licensing those recordings for release.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
It did and I'm curious to see if the Sedaka firing is covered in the new book and I'm not looking for Chris to divulge anything because I can wait until November. I do wonder if Neil reached out and called, would Richard talk to him and finally make peace after all these years? It would surely have made Karen happy if she was still with us because it was an unsettling situation for her from what I've read.
To be completely transparent Jim, we don't get into the story in this book. However, once the book is out and people have had some time to read it, I think I can provide a bit of clarity—off the record—which will make a whole lot more sense now to fans about what was actually going on during that time.

For now, it's safe to say that Neil was fired for breaking industry etiquette as an opening act, which had nothing to do with his receiving a standing ovation.
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
Well said Chris and I understand Richard's reluctance to rehash an old incident that unfairly tarnished the Carpenters brand at a time when their popularity was peaking. In my opinion, it gave the media and critics of Karen and Richard a golden opportunity to turn radio programers and DJ's across the country against them which definitely led to diminished airplay which was vital to their continued success. Neil came off as a wounded star from the sixties who was in the midst of a comeback and he played up the firing to his full advantage and won the public relations game. Shame on Sherwin Bash (managed both artists) for not giving Richard the proper advise he needed during this period because the etiquette issues started way before the actual termination.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Call me naive,
but, what exactly is...."the lack of wisdom" in putting the acts together in the first place ?
It seems to me that it certainly began as a well-intentioned venture, pairing the acts together.
I must be missing the big picture.

Billboard January 18, 1975:
Please Mr. Postman #2
Laughter in The Rain #3
here:
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
Call me naive,
but, what exactly is...."the lack of wisdom" in putting the acts together in the first place ?
It seems to me that it certainly began as a well-intentioned venture, pairing the acts together.
I must be missing the big picture.

Billboard January 18, 1975:
Please Mr. Postman #2
Laughter in The Rain #3
The conventional wisdom in booking acts, is to hire either a musical act that is just starting out, or a comedian, as the opening act. You want to make certain that the audience is there to see the headliner. The problem with having Sedaka as the opener, was that he was arguably more famous than Carpenters were, particularly among the older demographic that frequented Vegas in the 1970s. I suspect that a significant percentage of the audience were there primarily to see Sedaka perform. To further compound matters, Sedaka was a natural showman... to some in the audience, the Carpenters set may have been an anti-climax.

It also wouldn't surprise me if the celebrities that Sedaka (inappropriately) acknowledged, were his showbiz friends - there to support him, and he knew it...
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^I understand that aspect of the pairing.
Be that as it may, didn't Neil Sedaka perform duets alongside The Carpenters in those concerts ?
That distinguishes his pairing with them from being merely an opening act, doesn't it ?
And, in response to the entire "incident,"
The Carpenters revamped their stage show to make it more energetic and entertaining,
so, something of Sedaka's performance rubbed off, apparently !
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Don't get me wrong, Sedaka's talented. I love his work and even own his greatest its album. But I see Murray's take on this as 100% correct.

Would I love to hear a high quality version of their concert? ABSOLUTELY!
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
Well said Chris and I understand Richard's reluctance to rehash an old incident that unfairly tarnished the Carpenters brand at a time when their popularity was peaking. In my opinion, it gave the media and critics of Karen and Richard a golden opportunity to turn radio programers and DJ's across the country against them which definitely led to diminished airplay which was vital to their continued success. Neil came off as a wounded star from the sixties who was in the midst of a comeback and he played up the firing to his full advantage and won the public relations game. Shame on Sherwin Bash (managed both artists) for not giving Richard the proper advise he needed during this period because the etiquette issues started way before the actual termination.
You hit the nail on the head. Shame on their manager, he is the one who holds responsibility.
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
Call me naive,
but, what exactly is...."the lack of wisdom" in putting the acts together in the first place ?
It seems to me that it certainly began as a well-intentioned venture, pairing the acts together.
I must be missing the big picture.

Billboard January 18, 1975:
Please Mr. Postman #2
Laughter in The Rain #3
here:
I’d say probably talking out of both sides of his mouth, the manager assured each of them that “they” were the star, Neil probably assumed as much as he was the more tenured artist and then behaved that way. The behavior was probably allowed and encouraged by the manager.
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
Am I to assume that Richard and Karen had no control over who was to be their headlining act by this time ?
I’d say they probably had some, but they hired a manager to handle those things for them. They were exceptionally busy and a good business manager should be handling their interests appropriately. They likely also trusted him implicitly.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
It's just another case of the label and those around them not giving their biggest money making act the care and attention they deserved.
 
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