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Official Review [Single]: 18. "SOLITAIRE"/"LOVE ME FOR WHAT I AM" (1721-S)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Jan 14, 2017.

Which side is your favorite?

  1. Side A: "Solitaire"

    29 vote(s)
  2. Side B: "Love Me For What I Am"

    13 vote(s)
  1. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    Yes, that's right. I just wanted to know at what minute mark the organ and guitar first appears on the single version. But my current listening environment makes it hard for me to hear details in music at the moment.

    All I have right now is the built-in speaker on my iPod Nano 5g because my place is undergoing extensive renovations. My normal listening gear, which mainly consists of my desktop computer and headphones, is in storage for several more weeks. I don't even have the earbuds that came with the iPod, lol. So it's very noisy at times and the tinny little speaker of the iPod is very poor in quality. My iPhone's speaker's a little better but I don't have any music on it right now.

    But thanks for the reply! At least now I'll know what to listen for when I get my place back up to normal.
  2. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    At almost exactly the 1:00 minute mark, Karen sings the word "silence". In the album version, she's followed by a few chords on the piano, whereas in the single version, she's followed by a guitar fill in addition to the piano. It's a small difference, but should be easy enough to hear on any small speaker.

    The organ is more buried in the mix and difficult to pinpoint.
    Jeff and BarryT60 like this.
  3. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    Awesome! Thanks Harry, exactly what I was looking for. :thumbsup:

    I just remembered tonight that I have a 3.5 mm audio cable in the glovebox of my car that I can plug the iPod into. I'll listen to the two Solitaire versions on my way to work and see if I can spot the differences.
  4. I gave some thoughts earlier but I really do think Tryin' To Get The Feeling again (in theory) should have replaced LMFWIA, or another stronger song. Like others have said it's too similar to Goodybe and I Love You which is the superior tune. But I am glad that Richard didn't finish Tryin until the early 90s because as one member wrote on here it would have been much softer and less of the hard edged 90s influenced sound we hear on it. As it stands now it's one of there best songs and the arrangement is fresh and striking and emotive with one of Karen's best performances (and it was a work lead!).

    Love Me is a sophisticated ballad with a gorgeous reading by Karen but it just doesn't feel very organic somehow. And I didn't like how Richard doubled her lead on the chorus(?) like he did on I Won't Last a Day Without You; it makes her lead vocal feel more distant than anything, though still full of feeling. She had the gift of conveying a human yearning and melancholy that even tampering with her voice in unneeded ways still couldn't diminish that distinctive tone.
  5. Carl

    Carl "you are one of the few things worth remembering"

    I've always loved solitaire! I heard it on the gold cd and had the song on repeat for the rest of the evening. Couldn't get enough of it. I think this song clearly demonstrates how great a singer Karen was. I also read that Karen wasn't a fan of the song ? Don't know if it's true or not. Either way it's a terrific song !
    Jamesj75 and Brian like this.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

  7. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Solitaire absolutely! Why? Because there is no song that can consistently "tear me up" than this. Yeah, around Christmas time, she will reduce me to a blubbering mess with I'll Be Home For Christmas; but I feel Solitaire was her "signature" work. I know she never liked the song; but I don't think she ever really liked Superstar, did she? Love Me For What I Am is "OK"; but side A is far superior. Solitaire would be the song I would present to someone who had never heard KC sing before.
    no1kandrfan, Jamesj75, Brian and 2 others like this.
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Brian likes this.
  9. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Love this interview, Richard was already thinking about the possibility of a 50th anniversary release!
    Brian likes this.
  10. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    Solitaire transports me. The Karen Carpenter voice at its most dynamic expression of control. Try singing Solitaire note for note in tempo. This reading stands alone.
    CraigGA and Jamesj75 like this.
  11. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    James' thoughtful post, regarding Karen's solo work,
    has me to thinking about
    "... the money's in the basement..."
    Now, two of my absolute favorite Karen Carpenter lead vocals are
    Solitaire and Ordinary Fool.

    By all accounts Karen did not care for either song !
    Also, it appears as if Richard Carpenter is not (now) too keen on either song !

    And, yet both songs are " in the basement " vocally, with impressive lyrics to boot !

    We know that Solitaire might have sold up to 200,000 copies--at most, as a Single.
    We know that Ordinary Fool was held from release--and completion--until late 1983.
    Ordinary Fool has been "compiled" six times. (That is, it occurs on Six other compilations).
    And, Ordinary Fool was not a lead single from Voice Of The Heart.
    With, Solitaire being the final single from Horizon.

    Two fantastic " in the basement " songs !

    John Adam and Jamesj75 like this.
  12. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    If I'm not mistaken, the organ was added for the single release, as the first version was recorded for the album (without the organ). Not the other way around.
  13. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    You are correct, Mark-T. The organ was added for the single. I love the single version and was so glad Richard finally released it on the ‘Gold’ compilation.
    newvillefan, CraigGA and Jeff like this.
  14. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    As a teenager, when I first played Horizon, I had an uncanny attraction to Solitaire as I played the album. I did not think it was single worthy, but still liked it: kinda like my attraction to Maybe It’s You from Close to You. And, when I would relisten choosing my favorites I would include Solitaire for Karen sounded so good. Now with the single, the added organ made the song soar! But I liked the flip side better and always thought it would be the next single with I’m Caught Between Goodbye and I Love You on the flip side. Those two songs had the feel of what the radio was playing in a ‘At Seventeen’ type of consciousness, and were my favorites from Horizon. Of the two torch type songs I liked I Can Dream Can’t I best but that would never suit with radio, so I thought. So, although I enjoy Solitaire and the added instrumental flavors, I thought the wrong side was chosen. I was hoping the DJ’s would play it putting pressure as a double sided single, but I think the FM station branding that began getting popular around this time caused it to fall into cities where stations were still playing AM, so there would not be enough left to build that fan based twist. Strangely enough, I was visiting relatives in Pittsburgh at the time Solitaire was playing on the radio and the softer stations were playing I Can Dream, Can’t I. I did not hear the Carpenters on the Rock FM station but did hear it on the station that played America and Seals and Crofts but my cousin said the cool kids listened to the Rock station, which meant no Carpenters. But, they had an 8Track tape of A Song For You and it was my first time listening to this song of ice cream. Needless to say, when my cousin was playing with the neighborhood kids I was in the basement listening to songs that captivated my soul. A Song For You as a Song alone gave me such an empirical High I thought I was cellar bound for the rest of the trip. I bought the single Solitaire so I could hear Karen at the relatives home we were staying with for that week. Billboard also had a special insert of radio play artists that once were at the top then in a few years had dropped off but the Carpenters were still riding the wave, just not as high, and displaying a 2 page spread outlining their success. I still wanted the flip side to be the one for I thought it fit Karen's new image that the cover of Horizon displayed, as well as, the musical touch that reached my soul. Thankfully, there was still a Carpenters song on the charts and I promoted Solitaire among my friends as much as possible. I thought the Carpenters would stay upbeat since the prior 2 singles had a more new beat sound, but who can argue against Karen singing a ballad or torch song. She was so good at it that as she transported me to a different place and the urge for more upbeat material disappeared and Horizon became my favorite album bringing acceptance to the choice of Solitaire as a single. As my other cousin said, the Carpenters have really grown up!
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
    MorningOpensQuietly and Jamesj75 like this.
  15. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    "LMFWIA" is one of their absolute best songs, IMHO. The melody is truly a thing of beauty and Karen never sounded so "in your lap" as she does here. Richard's arrangement is oddly subdued and is a perfect vehicle for Karen and that incredible lyric.

    "If what you want...isn't natural for me
    I won't pretend to keep you...what I am, I have to be"

    Perfection! She sounds like she's right in front of me, breaking it to me gently. No one did that sort of thing better than Karen. The last refrain ("You're really not in love, SO LET ME GOOOO") is shiver-inducing. I love that the "O" doesn't completely resolve. Richard had an ear for nuances like that and it really works. Karen's "I must be free" that ends the tune is one of the saddest yet most hopeful things I've ever heard in a tune.

    How this was the B-side of anything is entirely beyond me. "Solitaire" is miles behind this one in terms of songwriting, vocal, and production. I seem to recall that "Solitaire" wasn't really Karen's thing and I totally get why it wouldn't be. The thing is totally "draggy". I don't hate it but it just kind of lays there. It wasn't a huge hit as a single and it's no mystery to me why it wasn't. They were moving on momentum at that point and this was not the song to follow "Only Yesterday" up the charts.

    If I were A&M, I'd have flipped this single faster than you could say "Herb" and it might have done better.

    John Adam, Rumbahbah, Murray and 2 others like this.
  16. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Thats one of the best descriptions of LMFWIA I have ever read.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Superb analysis of
    Love Me For What I Am,
    Ed !

    Perplexing it is that the song only occurs on four
    other compilations,
    of those--two compilations are the Japan Singles Box and the PBS Singles Set.
    In other words, outside of the original incarnations of the Horizon LP,
    Love Me For What I Am
    has not gotten much in the manner of promotion.
    And, it's always been a favorite of mine.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  18. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I completely agree. Even though it has a few lazy 'template' elements like Tony Peluso's electric guitar on the instrumental break that they started to over-use by this stage, I feel that 'Love Me For What I Am' is one of their most under-rated tracks. It's also one of only a few of their songs to have a real 'adult' subject matter in terms of the human complexities and downsides of the reality of love going wrong. There's an unusual directness in the lyrics as it's focused on 'me' (you should value me for me) compared to the distance created by the narrative in 'Solitaire' (there was a man who...), which just makes it that much more compelling.

    For this reason alone I think releasing it as a single might have helped change some of the negative opinions about them as lyrically it's quite a change from the sort of thing they normally put out. I'm no fan of 'Solitaire' as a song and, although Karen does her best with it, it doesn't feel like much of a surprise in terms of the sort of song they would have recorded, so didn't really bring anything new to the table in the way that 'Love Me...' could have done had it been given the chance to do so.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Seems to me--after re-reading Palma Pascales' biography/memories
    regarding her song, Love Me For What I Am,
    that it was never intended, by Richard Carpenter, to be a lead "A-Side" Single.
    Richard Carpenter:
    " The entire song caught my ear, especially, of course, the hook.
    I felt some of Palma's lyrics weren't on par with the melody and with
    her permission brought in John Bettis for lyric revisions
    ( Carpenters Fans Ask- Richard Answers, May 2005 )

    Palma Pascale never met Richard or Karen Carpenter.
    She wrote the song in late 1973.
    Palma Pascale passed away in 2009.
    We owe her a debt of gratitude, also !
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  20. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Absolutely perfect description of the song! Reading this through and thinking about it, you're right: it should have been the A-side.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Solitaire has been "anthologized" about 25 times, through the years (post-1982).
    Ordinary Fool combined with Love Me For What I Am
    has been "anthologized" ten times ( 6 and 4, respectively).

    Apparently, Richard Carpenter held/holds
    in much higher regard !
  22. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I think it’s the lead vocal performance he holds in high regard rather than the song itself. It is an exceptionally difficult, rangy song to sing. Elvis is known to have asked Neil Sedaka to transpose his arrangement because he couldn’t reach all of the notes.
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^ I do believe you are correct.

    Richard Carpenter (Carpenter webpage):
    "This is one of Karen’s finest performances,
    even though, to my amazement, she was not that taken with the song."

    "MR: Would Karen have had any do-overs?"
    "Richard Carpenter (2009):
    Karen never cared for “Solitaire”...and I’m not that crazy about it either! What I liked about it, more than anything, is that it shows off her voice so darned well. But, no, she never cared for that song."
    HuffPost Exclusive : The 40th Anniversary of Carpenters / Interview with Richard Carpenter | HuffPost
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  24. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I feel Solitaire is a stronger song and better for radio than LMFWIA.
  25. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    It's one of the saddest things I've ever heard, yet it's hopeful because she knows her worth. The idea that "you can't rearrange my life because it pleases you" and the lines I quoted earlier put this miles ahead of anything else on that record and in very real contention for best thing they ever did. As I said earlier, I also love that Richard doesn't overwhelm this with "the kitchen sink". He had a very real tendency to want to "show the world what he could do". With this one, he completely gets out of the way and displays only mild flourishes here and there - nothing that ever gets in Karen's way or distracts even slightly from the lyric. While I'm not usually so focused on lyric, this one's so good that I have no choice. This is the picture of a woman who knows who she is and decisively yet tearfully knows something has to change. She doesn't really dress him down either while this is happening either. She does say that he's "always finding something is wrong in what I do" and that "for all your expectations, love can never be designed" but she doesn't take it any further. She presents an object lesson to him and I get the sense that she really wants him to understand. Richard's arrangement of the end (refrain of the last two lines of the chorus) tells me she's found her answer ("you're really not in love so let me go, I must be free") and she's left with no choice. Just heartbreaking but also very brave of her to find the strength to go.

    All in all, one of my absolute favorite Carpenters' tunes and it deserves so much more credit for being as great as it is. Thank you, Palma and John. Most of all, thank you yet again, Karen.


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