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Seasonal Poll: Carpenters - Merry Christmas Darling

Which version of "Merry Christmas Darling" Do You Prefer?

  • Original 1970 Version

    Votes: 25 54.3%
  • New Lead Vocal 1978 Version

    Votes: 8 17.4%
  • Remix For Time-Life CD Collection 1992

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • Royal Philharmonic Version 2018

    Votes: 4 8.7%
  • I Like All Of Them!

    Votes: 8 17.4%

  • Total voters
    46
  • Poll closed .

John Adam

"Two Lives"
Thread Starter
If there is anyone else who cares to express their opinion by "VOTING" please do so, as the last day to so is 12-31-19!

 

motownboy

Well-Known Member
I missed the voting, but I would have chosen. "I Like All of Them!" It is a great song and performance. All of the mixes are enjoyable to me.
 

John Adam

"Two Lives"
Thread Starter
I missed the voting, but I would have chosen. "I Like All of Them!" It is a great song and performance. All of the mixes are enjoyable to me.

So with your unofficial vote motownboy, we will call this done! (I included his vote [above] to break the tie.)

#1 Favorite MCD goes to the "original 1970 single" release! (No surprise there.)
#2 Favorite MCD goes to "I Love all Of Them!" (Bigger Surprise.)
#3 Favorite MCD goes to the "New Lead Vocal" 1978 version. (No big surprise.)
#4 Favorite MCD goes to the 2018 "RPO" version. (Thought this would be higher?)
#5 There is one person who prefers the "Time-Life" version of MCD from 1992 over the others!

Thanks everyone for your participation and/or comments! :)
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
I missed this post over the holidays but if I had been able to vote it would have been for the RPO version. I had played it so much since hearing the RPO album that when Christmas appeared I had got out my Christmas Portrait CD. When I heard MCD I said wait it’s missing all the included flourishes and orchestral pieces Richard added. I really felt it was missing something and it made me smile because I realized how much I really liked the RPO version.

The original will always hold a special place in my heart but I’ve always liked the re work Karen did and with the RPO, Richard did a fantastic job and managed to create a closer presence in her voice.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Just 90 days after the initial release of "We've Only Just Begun", "Merry Christmas Darling" saw release right around Thanksgiving. I find this fact a little remarkable. The duo had just two hits, composed by others, and A&M had enough faith in them to allow the release of a Christmas single, composed by Richard and his old choral director - and it worked. Christmas singles were not that common back then. Most pop artists didn't do Christmas songs or albums, yet here was this upstart group, with just two big hits under their belts, releasing an unknown song for the Christmas season.

I truly find that remarkable. and at the time, it seemed quite magical. And as soon as the Christmas season was over, - bang - it was time for "For All We Know."
Yes, it was remarkable and magical for all of the reasons Harry states- and the fact that the music was composed 20 years after Frank Pooler composed the heartfelt lyrics..

I'm a year late to this poll but just for the record I would have voted for the RPO version, primarily because it's an enhanced version of the 1978 recording with a more lush sound and with Karen's vocal somehow more up front and intimate - but believe me I will listen to any of the versions any time of the year!

I even like her live (Richard-less) rendition on the Bruce Forsyth show in 1978 that sounded great even without those amazing background vocals that she & Richard had provided for the studio recordings.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
The original 1970 version showcases Karen, the drummer who sings. The girl still has no concept of what a great gift she has, and that in itself gives this reading a really special vibe. The 1978 version showcases Karen the vocalist who is also a drummer. Much more confident in her ability, using her voice in a more controlled fashion. But now she has this awareness of her gift and has learned to use it. The vocal performance has lost some of the innocence, but improved stylistically. So that is why I like both versions. They each have something I enjoy hearing. I hope this explains my take on Merry Christmas Darling.
This is all very true - her voice had deepened and matured and become even more beautifully resonant (as if that were possible) - and she wanted to re-record it precisely because of this - and if Karen thought that and wanted that then that was the way it had to be...

One thing about this 1978 recording that used to bother me just a little was on the repeat near the end when she sings "...that I wish you merry Christmas, happy New Year too." on the original she follows the score on "New Year too" by dropping from the F melody note on the word "New" down to the Bb melody note on the word "Year" and then jumping back up to the melody note G on the word "too". But on the 1978 version she stays up at the F note on "Year" instead of dropping, so that there's a much smaller interval between the last two words - for a long time I didn't think this sounded quite right that she would take this liberty, but now I've learned to love it as it seems to flow better into the final phrasing...I even play it this way on my digital piano.
 
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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
But on the 1978 version she stays up at the F note on "Year" instead of dropping,
Probably THE main reason that I don't care for the 1978 version. If she'd have sung the melody the same way as written and performed in 1970, I'd probably love the re-record, but that little liberty just rubs me the wrong way. There's a similar change at the start of the song, where the word "special" is more conversational than strict singing, and I dislike that too. But thankfully, I still have the original, my favorite of all.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Did everyone know about this? “Merry Christmas, Darling” almost was recorded in the early 1970s by Elvis Presley, Pooler said. Presley couldn’t read music, so in the recording studio he would have the musicians form a circle around him and play him the song, while he walked around the circle trying to get the hang of the song. “He could not quite pick up on the bridge to ‘Merry Christmas, Darling,’ so he threw in the towel after three times around the circle,” Pooler said, retelling the story Presley told Richard Carpenter.
This is somewhat understandable - that transition to the bridge ("The lights on my tree, I wish you could see...") is a tad difficult and primarily so because the "rhythm" of the lyrics (not the song's tempo) changes, which can seem a little awkward on initial attempts - it's in the words and their phrasing- i even had a slight problem with getting this smooth and even when playing just the instrumental version on my piano...but, thankfully, Karen had absolutely no trouble with this - just one more of the many reasons she was the consumate artist that she was.
 
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JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Yes, it was remarkable and magical for all of the reasons Harry states- and the fact that the music was composed 20 years after Frank Pooler composed the heartfelt lyrics..

I'm a year late to this poll but just for the record I would have voted for the RPO version, primarily because it's an enhanced version of the 1978 recording with a more lush sound and with Karen's vocal somehow more up front and intimate - but believe me I will listen to any of the versions any time of the year!

I even like her live (Richard-less) rendition on the Bruce Forsyth show in 1978 that sounded great even without those amazing background vocals that she & Richard had provided for the studio recordings.
Speaking of the background vocals on MCD, they are really nice - in fact, that's an understatement. They're creatively arranged and beautifully done, culminating in a gorgeous swirl of sound at the end...

And up until I checked to see the name of the chorale providing this lovely vocal accompaniment after listening to the RPO version about 6 times I never realized that this wall of sound was accomplished originally by only Karen & Richard via multiple overdubs! Simply remarkable!
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I like the original version of ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’ because Karen performs so exuberantly and naturally, just the way she’s feeling it. Her voice has more of the tone she uses on ‘Superstar’ and ‘Rainy Days & Mondays’, etc.

I do also like the 1978 version but it sounds more controlled - maybe a little contrived - not as natural. Still great, though, and wonderful to have a brilliant alternate performance.

Another reason I like the original version is because I first heard it on a ‘Carpenters Weekend’ on our local radio station as a pre-teen in the mid-seventies. I can remember the excitement of having a ‘Carpenters Weekend’ and hearing songs I’d never heard before and I can remember exactly what I was doing when ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’ came on.

Here, ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’ was originally released as a ‘Double A-Side’ single with ‘Superstar’, in 1971. I’m assuming there wasn’t a previous edition in 1970.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
... There's a similar change at the start of the song, where the word "special" is more conversational than strict singing, and I dislike that too. But thankfully, I still have the original, my favorite of all.
That's part of the intro, which is often handled - at least in part - in a "conversational" style by some singers. In this case the word "special" is in the last phrase and carried across 2 eighth notes in the melody, which almost guarantees that it will sound shortened or "clipped'. It would be hard to extend that out in a song-like fashion.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I love both versions, but the one that really gets to me is the 1970 original. Karen is belting it out with her deep, unpolished ‘Offering’/‘Close To You’ pipes.

Pure classic!
 

TimeWarp

Member
This is likely an unpopular opinion, but aside from Karen singing this song with perfection, I've never been a huge fan of "Merry Christmas Darling". Nevertheless, I prefer the 1970 original. 🙂
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Staff member
Moderator
Anyone know which day in 1970 "Merry Christmas, Darling" went to no. 1 on the Billboard holiday charts?
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
In Canada, Merry Christmas Darling hit its peak of #50 on December 26, 1970. And the week before (December 19), it had been at #72. And unless I’m missing one, for December 26, 1970 the Carpenters had the Top Christmas Single on Canada’s RPM 100 Singles chart.


Also on the chart that week at #78 was We’ve Only Just Begun.
 

John Adam

"Two Lives"
Thread Starter
Anyone know which day in 1970 "Merry Christmas, Darling" went to no. 1 on the Billboard holiday charts?
Also did Merry Christmas Darling actually appear (ever) on the (US) Hot 100 or AC charts like most of their other "singles?"
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Staff member
Moderator
Also did Merry Christmas Darling actually appear (ever) on the (US) Hot 100 or AC charts like most of their other "singles?"

No, believe it or not, although Portrait continues to land in the top-100, at least in Rolling Stone.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Also did Merry Christmas Darling actually appear (ever) on the (US) Hot 100 or AC charts like most of their other "singles?"

I think in the 70’s Billboard had a rule that the Hot 100 was only for non-seasonal songs.

Any way, according to Billboard, “Merry Christmas Darling” last hit #1 on the Holiday Hot 100 on December 20, 2003.
 
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