Reconstructing Made in America

goodjeans

Well-Known Member
Sometimes I wonder if the singer is the husband’s second-wife. The song doesn’t say it, but what-if the “ghost” is the husband’s deceased-first-wife, and the second wife, the new wife, is jealous of the deceased-wife, and she “sees” her husband’s first wife when he maybe looks at old photos.
What a beautiful interpretation. This had never crossed my mind. Thank you tomswift2002.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
That's the way I always thought of it when I first heard the song, that the husband's first wife was gone, but still on his mind.
I thought he (the "husband") was a philandering SOB...mostly from the lines "like the old song Torn Between Two Lovers" and "what lies has she told you." And why doesn't everyone dislike this song because of the lyric like they do Strength of a Woman? Not much daylight between the two, in my opinion.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Oh ya !
Thank you for mentioning it, Geographer !
I thought about that also long ago !
And, yet, vocally, the strength in Karen's voice on the song Strength of a Woman
is worlds away from the whispering level she takes vocally with the Uninvited Guest !

On one song,
Karen sings: "Sometimes it takes the strength of a woman to understand the weakness of her man..."
On the other song,
Karen sings: "And, I'm running second best to the uninvited guest, and it's breaking my heart."

Also, look at the lyric of Somebody's Been Lying : "He's making fun of me and laughing at my dreams."

Needless to say, I like those three MIA songs.
They are very much more mature, vulnerable, vocal readings from Karen.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
^^Oh ya !
Thank you for mentioning it, Geographer !
I thought about that also long ago !
And, yet, vocally, the strength in Karen's voice on the song Strength of a Woman
is worlds away from the whispering level she takes vocally with the Uninvited Guest !

On one song,
Karen sings: "Sometimes it takes the strength of a woman to understand the weakness of her man..."
On the other song,
Karen sings: "And, I'm running second best to the uninvited guest, and it's breaking my heart."

Also, look at the lyric of Somebody's Been Lying : "He's making fun of me and laughing at my dreams."

Needless to say, I like those three MIA songs.
They are very much more mature, vulnerable, vocal readings from Karen.

Excellent points! No argument here.

And even with Somebody's been Lying, she occasionally drops to a lower register which is nice.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I thought he (the "husband") was a philandering SOB...mostly from the lines "like the old song Torn Between Two Lovers" and "what lies has she told you." And why doesn't everyone dislike this song because of the lyric like they do Strength of a Woman? Not much daylight between the two, in my opinion.
Maybe in life the first wife and second wife hated each other but both loved the man, but now that he’s a widow to the first wife, the second wife was hoping he would forget about her, (as the line goes “I should leave you, but it doesn’t make sense”) and the second wife is wondering if he’s maybe remembering things the first wife told him in private about the future second wife, that were maybe “lies”.

Strength of a Woman is nothing like The Uninvited Guest. SOAW is very similar to I Believe You; both are about women believing cheats. Also their melodies and harmonies are extremely similar. The Uninvited Guest is better ear candy with its counterpoint melody and harmony.
 
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Well, I like both songs. I think I give the edge to The Uninvited Guest. And I just looked up the lyrics, and it sounds to me that he is having an affair and he doesn't know that she knows. There's the line where she says "You don't know how I know, if it all was in the open you'd deny that it's so." And the line "I should leave you but I love you. It doesn't make sense. I suppose it could still work, if she was his first wife and she was deceased. But surely she would know about the first wife including that she had died, so how would the line "You don't know how I know, if it all was in the open you'd deny that it's so." fit?
 

kprather

Well-Known Member
To me, "her ghost is there" means that there's an "elephant in the room." Every word that is said, every deed that is done, seems to indicate that there is a second woman in this man's life.

She doesn't literally "live in our house," but she is pervasive in his life, and therefore her life.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
“Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night” July 27, 1980

I’ve always thought this was the most underrated gem from all of the sessions for Made In America. I’d forgotten it was recorded so soon after the solo album and sessions for the 1980 TV special. Karen is on fine form vocally and Siedah Garrett (whose voice I adore) is the perfect complement for the background vocals. I’d have liked to have seen this included on the album, but it’s probably too similar in style to Touch Me When We’re Dancing”. Another song that I wish more people knew.

Anyone else got any thoughts on this song?
 

John Tkacik

Well-Known Member
I’ve always thought this was the most underrated gem from all of the sessions for Made In America. I’d forgotten it was recorded so soon after the solo album and sessions for the 1980 TV special. Karen is on fine form vocally and Siedah Garrett (whose voice I adore) is the perfect complement for the background vocals. I’d have liked to have seen this included on the album, but it’s probably too similar in style to Touch Me When We’re Dancing”. Another song that I wish more people knew.

Anyone else got any thoughts on this song?
I absolutely loved this song from the first time that I heard it. I believe that it was a big "missed opportunity" for a fantastic single release.
 

Martin Medrano

Well-Known Member
The first time i heard it a few years ago i absolutely loved it. It was new to me and now one of my go to songs. If this was to get a cleaner version i would snatch it right. Not that the original arrangement is anything to pass up.
 

JohnFB

She was born to belong to the lines of a song...
I’ve always thought this was the most underrated gem from all of the sessions for Made In America. I’d forgotten it was recorded so soon after the solo album and sessions for the 1980 TV special. Karen is on fine form vocally and Siedah Garrett (whose voice I adore) is the perfect complement for the background vocals. I’d have liked to have seen this included on the album, but it’s probably too similar in style to Touch Me When We’re Dancing”. Another song that I wish more people knew.

Anyone else got any thoughts on this song?
Both (KISS ME...and TOUCH ME...) are great songs, but both are way over-produced with far too much extraneous "stuff", going after the chart-chasing "Carpenter Sound" - Karen is there, of course, but gets buried too much under too many layers - she needs to be there more often and more prominently - both needed cleaned up and filtered out to become classics - both should have been on the album instead of filler like STRENGTH... or I WANY YOU...or SOMEONE'S LYIN...
 

JohnFB

She was born to belong to the lines of a song...
To me, he likes someone else and she knows it but she "plays dumb instead".
Sure, that's the most simple and factual explanation - it's not a first wife or an ex-wife although it could be someone else's current wife (the wife of friends) but doesn't have to be - it's more than likely at least someone they both know and that she (the singer, who may or may not be this guy's actual wife - we aren't told) suspects he's becoming romantically and/or sexually interested in because she's seen them talking and laughing together on several recent occasions - in a word, flirting - the affair hasn't started yet but the singer thinks for sure that things are headed that way,and is heartbroken at the prospect...or maybe the whole thing is a figment of her overactive and distorted imagination...but then again, maybe that apparition is actually the highly elusive ghost of Karen herself, the one that some have claimed to have seen roaming the recording studios ar A & M over the years, and Karen, the singer, is having a premonition of herself in a future relationship...don't scoff, there are far stranger things going on under the sun - and behind closed doors...
 
Can you not like a song just because it's Karen singing it? I mean, that's how I bought almost all of my collection. I would hear a voice I liked and then I would become a fan. I would buy all their records then. I didn't have to hear them first. I knew that even if a song didn't grab me at first, I knew the voice would make me a believer in the end. It might take a few spins but soon or later I would be on board. And this didn't happen just with my three favorites. It happened with any voice that I liked. And there's list. A long list.

I don't find any Carpenter song unlistenable. I wouldn't throw any of them back. But I do have my favorites.

The only thing I might change on Made In America is the volume of Karen's voice. It seems like it should be more prominent in the mix on some songs.
 

JohnFB

She was born to belong to the lines of a song...
Can you not like a song just because it's Karen singing it?
Well, there are songs you would like pretty much no matter who is singing them. Then there are these same songs you would like better precisely because Karen is singing them. Then there are songs you would like only because Karen is singing them.
I don't find any Carpenter song unlistenable. I wouldn't throw any of them back. But I do have my favorites.

The only thing I might change on Made In America is the volume of Karen's voice. It seems like it should be more prominent in the mix on some songs.
There are many who feel the same way. Given that voice that - top prominence - should have always been the case, without exception.
 

Randy M

Well-Known Member
Always wondered, in hindsight, if Made In America was a cryptic title for MIA and actually meant Missing In Action. I don't know where the title Made In America came from? I would have gone with using the title of one of the songs on the album. My preference would be Touch Me When We're Dancing, but that would be too risque for a Carpenters album.

The cover artwork is Godawful. Made In America in red, white, and blue & Karen's hair flowing like a flag in the breeze.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
The problem with reconstructing this album is that nothing recorded during that time is a hit. How "Touch Me..." managed to hit at all is at total mystery to me. Nothing can be done to fix the album from that perspective. I will say that IMHO nothing on the album as released should have come out. The whole thing should have been re-thought - even down to the putrid cover art and album title. Literally nothing about this album is good IMHO.

As for a purely musical experience, all the tracks that were left off are better than what ended up on the record - even if all of them are overproduced. They at least put most of the focus on Karen's voice which is where the focus always should have been. The calling card for Carpenters is always Karen. For as good as Richard is, there are many great piano players and arrangers; there has only ever been one Karen Carpenter. Her talent is utterly singular and she should never have been buried in "double tracking" and overproduction the way she was on "Made in America. The crime is compounded with the knowledge that this is the last Carpenters' album that Karen saw released in her lifetime.

So how to reconstruct? Well...let's start with the title

Carpenters - "Slow Dance" (not sure about this but it kinda fits)
I would also have gotten a co-producer involved to check Richard's over-production tendencies and his inability to either find or write a hit. Those instincts were long gone by this time. However, what follows is the tracks as recorded.

...and now, the purely-musical track listing...

1. You're the One
2. Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night
3. Sailing on the Tide
4. Where Do I Go From Here?
5. Slow Dance
6. Two Lives
7. I Believe You
8. When It's Gone (It's Just Gone)
9. Prime Time Love
10. Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore

Again, no hits here to speak of but at least the tunes are decent and we now have a Karen-focused album.

Ed
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Always wondered, in hindsight, if Made In America was a cryptic title for MIA and actually meant Missing In Action. I don't know where the title Made In America came from?

The album title came from a logo emblazoned on a running suit that Karen was wearing to the recording studio one day during sessions for the album. Richard saw it and felt it was the perfect title.
 

JohnFB

She was born to belong to the lines of a song...
...

As for a purely musical experience, all the tracks that were left off are better than what ended up on the record - even if all of them are overproduced. They at least put most of the focus on Karen's voice which is where the focus always should have been. The calling card for Carpenters is always Karen. For as good as Richard is, there are many great piano players and arrangers; there has only ever been one Karen Carpenter. Her talent is utterly singular and she should never have been buried in "double tracking" and overproduction the way she was on "Made in America. The crime is compounded with the knowledge that this is the last Carpenters' album that Karen saw released in her lifetime.
*Bold text mine* - brilliant observations! - I agree 110% - this is the essence of what was wrong with their approach, and what could have been so right - an immense opportunity for supreme greatness blown...
...

...and now, the purely-musical track listing...

1. You're the One
2. Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night
3. Sailing on the Tide
4. Where Do I Go From Here?
5. Slow Dance
6. Two Lives
7. I Believe You
8. When It's Gone (It's Just Gone)
9. Prime Time Love
10. Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore

Again, no hits here to speak of but at least the tunes are decent and we now have a Karen-focused album.

Ed
Largely agree with this lineup, especially 1, 2, 4 & 8. In a rational world with a logical & fair system of evaluation these all would have been "hits". After all, 1 & 4 are two of her best vocal performances ever.
 

Randy M

Well-Known Member
Still it should’ve been left off. It was too outdated by 1981 and too similar to 6 of the 10 tracks on the album. Also, since it failed to have a major impact on the charts in 78, why would Karen and Richard think people would want more of the same 3 years later?

Also, was Carpenters Classics ever released as an import in the US? Maybe in Hawaii or the American Somoa?
Never thought about it that way. I agree. Why put a proven stinker on a new album?
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
The problem with reconstructing this album is that nothing recorded during that time is a hit. How "Touch Me..." managed to hit at all is at total mystery to me. Nothing can be done to fix the album from that perspective. I will say that IMHO nothing on the album as released should have come out. The whole thing should have been re-thought - even down to the putrid cover art and album title. Literally nothing about this album is good IMHO.

As for a purely musical experience, all the tracks that were left off are better than what ended up on the record - even if all of them are overproduced. They at least put most of the focus on Karen's voice which is where the focus always should have been. The calling card for Carpenters is always Karen. For as good as Richard is, there are many great piano players and arrangers; there has only ever been one Karen Carpenter. Her talent is utterly singular and she should never have been buried in "double tracking" and overproduction the way she was on "Made in America. The crime is compounded with the knowledge that this is the last Carpenters' album that Karen saw released in her lifetime.

So how to reconstruct? Well...let's start with the title

Carpenters - "Slow Dance" (not sure about this but it kinda fits)
I would also have gotten a co-producer involved to check Richard's over-production tendencies and his inability to either find or write a hit. Those instincts were long gone by this time. However, what follows is the tracks as recorded.

...and now, the purely-musical track listing...

1. You're the One
2. Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night
3. Sailing on the Tide
4. Where Do I Go From Here?
5. Slow Dance
6. Two Lives
7. I Believe You
8. When It's Gone (It's Just Gone)
9. Prime Time Love
10. Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore

Again, no hits here to speak of but at least the tunes are decent and we now have a Karen-focused album.

Ed
That's a helluva good track list!
 
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