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Road Ode- More Like It?

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I was listening to this song yesterday, and even though I have heard it hundreds of times, I was struck by its depth. Lyrics, music, arrangement, interpretation. All of it.
So, one question for those "in the know" and one question for all of us:

1- Were there any more songs like this that did not make future albums (or even A Song For You)

2- Which songs in their catalogue strike you with the same kind of substance, vulnerability, and maturity?
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I was listening to this song yesterday, and even though I have heard it hundreds of times, I was struck by its depth. Lyrics, music, arrangement, interpretation. All of it.
So, one question for those "in the know" and one question for all of us:

1- Were there any more songs like this that did not make future albums (or even A Song For You)

2- Which songs in their catalogue strike you with the same kind of substance, vulnerability, and maturity?
This song should have been kind of a "warning" to the record company about the amount of touring they endured. Was anyone listening?
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
The song really is a stand out for its very personal, intentionally autobiographical nature and they didn’t do many of those. A lot of songs (unknowingly) reflected Karen’s inner life, but few openly addressed the turmoil she and the others expressed externally.

Of course the remix is the only version that needs to be heard. I hate that so many younger fans who don’t know about all the remixes or where to find them will very likely miss hearing the coat of polish it got in the 90s. It needs to be on the next RPO album (holy hell).

Beyond the hits it’s the epitome of their early 70s innovation, a striking contrast to even a year later with the (intentionally?) old fashioned, campy oldies medley - there’s nothing maudlin, cheesy, or sentimental about Road Ode - it’s stark, timeless, and hits the gut. I remember someone on here once remarking that it’s the last mid-tempo/energetic song that Karen really gave a lot of power to, that after this she reserved the yearning and strength of emotion for the ballads.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Given that Road Ode was written by Gary Sims and Dan Woodhams in Carbondale, Illinois 1971,
subsequently released by the duo in 1972, how can it be claimed that A&M records should have viewed
Road Ode as a "warning to the record company about the amount of touring they were enduring" ?
Again, that is reading far too much into the song-- at that point in time. So, the duo, being in their early 20s,
if they were not prepared for intense touring in their early 20s, they never would be !
 
Great song! I think they are being very nostalgic with this and also making a point. I always felt they were "famous" people that probably should have never been famous. I mean that in a sense of what being famous did to them personally, not their over all talent. For me the song "Road Ode" exists because of the song "Sometimes". Great pair!
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
The wind chime/piano segue from Crystal Lullaby into Road Ode is nothing short of brilliant. A dreamlike fantasy ending and poignant reality beginning. When RC nails it, he nails it! And if Richard Carpenter does not stand before some kind of peer recognition of his contribution to the history of popular music during his lifetime, it will indeed be a travesty. And it doesn't necessarily have to be the RRHOF. It could be a "Grammys Salute" special or even the "Medal Of Freedom" awarded by the President, much like Herb was awarded by President Obama several years ago. Road Ode is an underappreciated masterpiece IMHO.
 
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Proudofyou

Active Member
I agree he needs to be recognized. Problem is, he doesn't make the rounds for interviews and guest spots so people forget! (and maybe that's because all people want to do is talk about her problem). I so wanted Richard to be a guest on Idol back when it was happening so he could mentor the young folks who sang his songs. C'mon Rich and publicity teams and media! We want to see you. Go on Ellen or something. Do a car segment and just have fun!!! Better yet.....TOUR WITH HERB!!!!!!! Omg I'd go every night.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
Given that Road Ode was written by Gary Sims and Dan Woodhams in Carbondale, Illinois 1971,
subsequently released by the duo in 1972, how can it be claimed that A&M records should have viewed
Road Ode as a "warning to the record company about the amount of touring they were enduring" ?
Again, that is reading far too much into the song-- at that point in time. So, the duo, being in their early 20s,
if they were not prepared for intense touring in their early 20s, they never would be !
If they (Richard and Karen) didn't identify with the song, then why did they record it? Obviously it must have "spoke" to them.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
For my part, I never understood the appeal of "Road Ode". It's very much "We've Only Just Begun" sideways musically - especially the chorus. Lyrically, I like the idea of it far more than the execution. It strains to be meaningful but the rather simplistic platitude-laden lyric undermines it for me. Karen tries admirably but it's all for naught because of said lyric. As usual, Richard's vocal arrangement makes this more listenable than it should be but it's never been one I've enjoyed much.

I can only imagine that they simply didn't have enough tunes to fill "Song for You", needed one more, and recorded the tune. I wouldn't have been mad if it had remained an outtake we never heard.

Ed
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
For my part, I never understood the appeal of "Road Ode". It's very much "We've Only Just Begun" sideways musically - especially the chorus. Lyrically, I like the idea of it far more than the execution. It strains to be meaningful but the rather simplistic platitude-laden lyric undermines it for me. Karen tries admirably but it's all for naught because of said lyric. As usual, Richard's vocal arrangement makes this more listenable than it should be but it's never been one I've enjoyed much.

I can only imagine that they simply didn't have enough tunes to fill "Song for You", needed one more, and recorded the tune. I wouldn't have been mad if it had remained an outtake we never heard.

Ed
I think the lyrics being rather broad and straight forward works for a song that moves like this one does. The meaningfulness is pulled off for me.
 

Don Malcolm

Well-Known Member
For my part, I never understood the appeal of "Road Ode". It's very much "We've Only Just Begun" sideways musically - especially the chorus. Lyrically, I like the idea of it far more than the execution. It strains to be meaningful but the rather simplistic platitude-laden lyric undermines it for me. Karen tries admirably but it's all for naught because of said lyric. As usual, Richard's vocal arrangement makes this more listenable than it should be but it's never been one I've enjoyed much.

I can only imagine that they simply didn't have enough tunes to fill "Song for You", needed one more, and recorded the tune. I wouldn't have been mad if it had remained an outtake we never heard.

Ed
I usually refrain from replying to you on this, Ed. You're entitled to your opinion, of course. But you're dead wrong. The lyrics may be a "platitude" to you, but not to about twenty times as many folks on this board who keep returning to the track to discuss it in thread after thread because the song haunts them to their core. I backed down one time with you re: the lyrics, but never again. The lyrics are just fine: they are exactly what Jarred says they are--stark, evocative, melancholic, nocturnal. When I read these same comments from you over and over again, I truly worry about your soul.

Beyond the hits it’s the epitome of their early 70s innovation, a striking contrast to even a year later with the (intentionally?) old fashioned, campy oldies medley - there’s nothing maudlin, cheesy, or sentimental about Road Ode - it’s stark, timeless, and hits the gut. I remember someone on here once remarking that it’s the last mid-tempo/energetic song that Karen really gave a lot of power to, that after this she reserved the yearning and strength of emotion for the ballads.
Could not agree more. And that remark you reference was my observation--sadly, there aren't any other tracks lying around in the Carpenters' vaults like it, with its contemplative, nocturnal verses, and that fabulous gear-shift into those superb, high-octane harmonies on the chorus...Joe Osborn...that flute solo...Richard's backing vocals...and Karen, just singing "dead-ahead"--never better (IMO), and probably in one take, as usual. Some people's talent truly is otherworldly...

Having it as the "last gasp" of the Spectrum energy will have to suffice, I'm afraid. But what a magnificent summation of their early work. A road never taken again--all the more reason to marvel at the journey it describes.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I think the lyrics being rather broad and straight forward works for a song that moves like this one does. The meaningfulness is pulled off for me.
The straightforwardness is a positive virtue, to be sure. I guess I was just hoping for more "lyrical" methods of getting the thoughts across. Again, I certainly don't hate the tune; just wanted more from it. It also likely would have benefitted from a more independent sound rather than the sub-"We've Only Just Begun" arrangement it got.

Ed
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I usually refrain from replying to you on this, Ed. You're entitled to your opinion, of course. But you're dead wrong. The lyrics may be a "platitude" to you, but not to about twenty times as many folks on this board who keep returning to the track to discuss it in thread after thread because the song haunts them to their core. I backed down one time with you re: the lyrics, but never again. The lyrics are just fine: they are exactly what Jarred says they are--stark, evocative, melancholic, nocturnal. When I read these same comments from you over and over again, I truly worry about your soul.
Ah, passion. Gotta love it. No need for the silly vitriol in these parts. A&M Corner has always provided a break from that for many of us. Have a lovely evening.

Ed
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I usually refrain from replying to you on this, Ed. You're entitled to your opinion, of course. But you're dead wrong. The lyrics may be a "platitude" to you, but not to about twenty times as many folks on this board who keep returning to the track to discuss it in thread after thread because the song haunts them to their core. I backed down one time with you re: the lyrics, but never again. The lyrics are just fine: they are exactly what Jarred says they are--stark, evocative, melancholic, nocturnal. When I read these same comments from you over and over again, I truly worry about your soul.

Ah, passion. Gotta love it. No need for the silly vitriol in these parts. A&M Corner has always provided a break from that for many of us. Have a lovely evening.

Ed
It's like you attacked his child! :laugh:

But I understand his frustration as I, too, think this is a brilliant song made more so as executed by Richard's superb arrangement. I don't recall if it were on this forum or some other Carpenters-related place on social media where someone uploaded a college half-time marching band performance of Road Ode and it was amazing to me how well it worked! The horns, drum line, and all executed the song in spectacular fashion. I wish I could find that again.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
It’s a singular song in that Karen both sings for herself and the touring crew while they do their jobs on the road, and also talking about herself individually and metaphorically. Her interpretation makes the song her own despite its original intent of being about a group, which is in itself a kind of metaphor for her place in “the Carpenters” duo.

Just keep on wearing a smile....they don’t know....”
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Karen's voice and Richard's arrangements make most Carpenters songs as least "listenable", IMO. There's a handful in the catalog I don't care for; but that doesn't mean I rush to zip past it to another song. I'm more likely to do that if I've heard that particular song too many times recently.

In this case, I really like Road Ode. And while the timing may be early in their pop stardom, they did a lot of gigs at a lot of odd hours in a lot of odd places, for quite some time prior. Whether for that reason, or simply because Karen is so good at projecting emotions she hasn't actually yet experienced, I really feel her in this one. Richard - as usual - knew just how to frame Karen's voice, as well.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
My first concert was in 1972 when the advertised show sold out quickly and they rushed to add a second - at 11:30 at night!
That to me is sheer madness. I don’t know many world class acts who were around at the time who would have put themselves through anything near as punishing a schedule as that. ABBA didn’t, Queen didn’t and neither did Fleetwood Mac. In fact NONE of them ever did two shows a night. That’s something cabaret acts do. Which begs the question how were the duo perceived by their management? No wonder they burned out so quickly.

I meant to quote a recent article posted on this forum that really shocked me. It was an interview with some tour promoter who actually said something along the lines of “we’re here for this” and rubbed his thumb and forefinger together [$$$]. That’s how they were perceived in the early seventies, right there in that one line.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
It may also have been a case of trying to undo the lack of foresight in booking a venue like the Academy Of Music in Philadelphia. That theater seats 2500 at best. Most "big" acts appeared at the Spectrum in those days, which accommodated 15,000 or more. With Carpenters popularity at that time, I think they could have booked a larger venue in a city the size of Philadelphia.

But when Carpenters returned to Philly, they were booked several times in the Valley Forge Music Fair, a theater in the round out in the suburbs. It only held a little more than the Academy Of Music, but they booked them for multiple days.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
In Las Vegas many acts did two shows a night as well. Dinner show at 7 and then cocktail show at 11:00 pm. 5 or 6 days a week. Tough schedule, and they sometimes stayed 2 weeks. That would surely burn most acts out, especially if they are still recording too.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
It may also have been a case of trying to undo the lack of foresight in booking a venue like the Academy Of Music in Philadelphia. That theater seats 2500 at best. Most "big" acts appeared at the Spectrum in those days, which accommodated 15,000 or more. With Carpenters popularity at that time, I think they could have booked a larger venue in a city the size of Philadelphia.

But when Carpenters returned to Philly, they were booked several times in the Valley Forge Music Fair, a theater in the round out in the suburbs. It only held a little more than the Academy Of Music, but they booked them for multiple days.
This fact begs the question of who the F was booking them at this time. Why in the heck would they book them into smaller venues? It's almost as if those responsible for booking them were concerned they might not "sell out" which of course can be bad news - for promotional purposes.
 
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