• 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.

⭐ Official Review [Single]: 24. "CHRISTMAS SONG"/"MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING" (1991-S)

Which side is your favorite?

  • Side A: "Christmas Song"

    Votes: 7 25.0%
  • Side B: "Merry Christmas Darling"

    Votes: 21 75.0%

  • Total voters
    28

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Technically, because the single version of "The Christmas Song" has a clean open on the 45, I'd go with that. Other than that, I'd agree with Rudy that Carpenters version of this standard is perfectly fine, but not magical. "Merry Christmas Darling" on the other hand *is* magical and perhaps, even as a b-side, overshadows its a-side.
For me, Nat King Cole's version from his Christmas Song LP is the definitive version of "The Christmas Song." (He recorded it a few times, but this version is the one that nailed it, and is the one most often played.) Few others are able to bring that same magic to the song, even Mel Tormé (who wrote it, and does a nice version of it himself)...yet most of the others just seem like a "color by numbers" version that go through the motions without really creating anything special. With "MCD" being the definitive version of that tune (and by now, a holiday classic), I agree it completely overshadows the A-side. It is not really an overall favorite of mine either (I don't like holiday music in general, to be honest), but I appreciate it for its stature as a classic and ongoing popularity.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Richard said he was too busy to record a Christmas album for the MCD single. However the duo loved seasonal music and missed an opportunity. I think CarpenterS Santa Claus 1974 single is quintessential version.
 
Merry Christmas, Darling has become such a classic and holiday standard, its clearly the most played Carpenters song on radio these days. In fact, Christmas Portrait as a whole has immense popularity. What is surprising is how often you hear the Carpenters on the radio during the holiday season and how little you hear them during the rest of the year (on soft rock/classic stations). It makes no sense...classic talent either way.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
@michiganguy There is an HD radio station around here that seems to play a lot of Carpenters. Sunny Radio (WNIC HD2, which is a "soft AC/oldies" format). It is based on iHeartRadio's "Sunny Radio" broadcast, as they own WNIC. HD radio is kind of a dud, though--it never really has taken off.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
For me, Nat King Cole's version from his Christmas Song LP is the definitive version of "The Christmas Song." (He recorded it a few times, but this version is the one that nailed it, and is the one most often played.) Few others are able to bring that same magic to the song, even Mel Tormé (who wrote it, and does a nice version of it himself)...yet most of the others just seem like a "color by numbers" version that go through the motions without really creating anything special. With "MCD" being the definitive version of that tune (and by now, a holiday classic), I agree it completely overshadows the A-side. It is not really an overall favorite of mine either (I don't like holiday music in general, to be honest), but I appreciate it for its stature as a classic and ongoing popularity.

It's funny how we can remember "where we were when..." sometimes when we get hit with a certain tune out of left field. Of course I grew up with Christmas Portrait and knew there wasn't a bad cut on the record (even as a little kid). Years later, Time Life put out that Christmas With The Carpenters set, and I remember during the TV ad and hearing a hard cut to the line "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose". Like many people here, it was always a double 'warm and fuzzy' when you're channel surfing, and out pops the voice of Karen Carpenter, in her best smoky rich contralto singing a classic.

I agree with @Rudy , Nat's is by far the definitive version and always will be. But like others have mentioned here, with MCD having already been released as a single and Christmas Song being a classic (and let's face it, Karen sings the heck out of it), I had to go with the latter.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I've only ever heard 'Merry Christmas, Darling' once on the radio. That was the original 1970 version and it was played around 1976 or 1977. I loved what I heard. When I bought 'Christmas Portrait' soon after it came out, I recognised that the lead vocal on 'Merry Christmas, Darling' was different, and was a little disappointed.

After years of searching, in the 80s, I finally found a copy of the original version of the song, b/w 'Superstar', on single. Of course, getting the 'From the Top' CD collection in the 90s cancelled out the need to listen to the single.

I have never heard the 1978 version of 'Merry Christmas, Darling' on the radio, (nor 'The Christmas Song', for that matter).
 
I've only ever heard 'Merry Christmas, Darling' once on the radio. That was the original 1970 version and it was played around 1976 or 1977. I loved what I heard. When I bought 'Christmas Portrait' soon after it came out, I recognised that the lead vocal on 'Merry Christmas, Darling' was different, and was a little disappointed.

After years of searching, in the 80s, I finally found a copy of the original version of the song, b/w 'Superstar', on single. Of course, getting the 'From the Top' CD collection in the 90s cancelled out the need to listen to the single.

I have never heard the 1978 version of 'Merry Christmas, Darling' on the radio, (nor 'The Christmas Song', for that matter).
Thats just crazy to me! Must have a very different idea of popular Christmas music down under.

Each and every holiday season, Carpenters are heard all the time on Christmas music stations in the US. The most played songs seem to be: Merry Christmas, Darling, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Sleigh Ride, and Home for the Holidays. But you will also hear The Christmas Song, Carol of the Bells, Ill be Home for Christmas, & Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
Thats just crazy to me! Must have a very different idea of popular Christmas music down under.
Christmas occurs at the height of the Australian summer, so that might have something to do with it. Most Australians have probably never experienced snow or extreme cold in person, and are as likely to see reindeer as I am to see kangaroos or wombats in my backyard. They wouldn't really relate to some of the Christmas songs that are popular in the northern hemisphere. I don't imagine that your average Aussie would think that "the fire is so delightful", during bushfire season.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thats just crazy to me! Must have a very different idea of popular Christmas music down under.

Each and every holiday season, Carpenters are heard all the time on Christmas music stations in the US. The most played songs seem to be: Merry Christmas, Darling, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Sleigh Ride, and Home for the Holidays. But you will also hear The Christmas Song, Carol of the Bells, Ill be Home for Christmas, & Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
Here in Canada I find that I hear the Carpenters version of “The Christmas Song” more than “Merry Christmas Darling” when I’m in stores. Up until 2003, Global used to on alternate years play the Carpenters “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” during the closing credits to the annual broadcast of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade.

I’ve also heard in stores Richard’s medley of Rudolph-Frosty-Santa-Wenceslas being played.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Last listen the original 1970 single has Karen at a young, huskier edge in voice. I don't prefer 78 over 70 just appreciate the novelties.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Just spun this classic Christmas 45. Even though I’ve heard other versions of Chestnuts, the Carpenters is still the Definitive.

And I remember hearing the single version first on the “Time-Life Treasury Of Christmas”.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I was listening to the “”MCD” on the 1992 Time-Life set yesterday, and I must say how I really enjoyed the electric piano. It made the song sound fresh.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
My cardinal rule has always been to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to play Christmas music (including Carpenters). But, after reading these posts, I may have to speed things up! :)
 

theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
My cardinal rule has always been to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to play Christmas music (including Carpenters). But, after reading these posts, I may have to speed things up! :)
I broke down. I'm listening now and enjoying every minute of it. (Nobody's around to rat me out!!) :D
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
My cardinal rule has always been to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to play Christmas music (including Carpenters). But, after reading these posts, I may have to speed things up! :)
I always start November 1. And it is after Thanksgiving——————————————————————————————————————here in Canada!
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
The discussion of Jack Daugherty had me thinking:
Both
Merry Christmas Darling (1970) and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
were altered later-on down the line (1978 and 1984, respectively).

It really stretches credibility to believe that Jack Daugherty---credited as producer
on the Merry Christmas Darling Single--had no musical input into the actual song !
Given it was an earlier Richard Carpenter song, and after Close To You's success,
I find it hard to believe Richard would not have insisted (then) to be credited as producer
on that song.

Notice, the earlier Carpenter songs listed Joe Osborne as producer (From The Top).

In other words, Why wait until after the success of the A Song For You album
to lose his temper over "the superb Jack Daugherty production" (quoting Billboard) ?

Also, Why doesn't Richard get upset that he's never received accolades for his
production on all the post-Daugherty albums and singles ?









 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
The discussion of Jack Daugherty had me thinking:
Both
Merry Christmas Darling (1970) and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
were altered later-on down the line (1978 and 1984, respectively).

It really stretches credibility to believe that Jack Daugherty---credited as producer
on the Merry Christmas Darling Single--had no musical input into the actual song !
Given it was an earlier Richard Carpenter song, and after Close To You's success,
I find it hard to believe Richard would not have insisted (then) to be credited as producer
on that song.

Notice, the earlier Carpenter songs listed Joe Osborne as producer (From The Top).

In other words, Why wait until after the success of the A Song For You album
to lose his temper over "the superb Jack Daugherty production" (quoting Billboard) ?

Also, Why doesn't Richard get upset that he's never received accolades for his
production on all the post-Daugherty albums and singles ?

I'm finding this quite amusing that we now, after all these years, have "discovered" that Richard wasn't really anything at all to Carpenters. It was ALL Karen and Jack Daugherty! Once that "rascally Richard" got his mean money-grubbing, egotistical, hateful hands on Karen and Jack's accomplishments, he purposely drove their career into the ground and orchestrated Karen's death (with Agnes' help, of course). This, my friends, is the sum of all "Richard bashing" conspiracies on this forum.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I'm finding this quite amusing that we now, after all these years, have "discovered" that Richard wasn't really anything at all to Carpenters. It was ALL Karen and Jack Daugherty! Once that "rascally Richard" got his mean money-grubbing, egotistical, hateful hands on Karen and Jack's accomplishments, he purposely drove their career into the ground and orchestrated Karen's death (with Agnes' help, of course). This, my friends, is the sum of all "Richard bashing" conspiracies on this forum.

I’ve never read anything remotely near this or as wild on this forum...
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I’ve never read anything remotely near this or as wild on this forum...

It's a summation of all the "Richard bashing" things that have been said in this forum. Individually, these accusations may not be so "near" or "wild," but add them all up an I think I'm correct in this conclusion.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Certainly, I understand your perspective, Geographer.
Please understand that ultimately I am searching for historical answers (i.e., I could care less
about Richard's personality, I want to understand his musical creativity wrt pop music).
That is, questioning things--even though there may be no 'answers' to be gotten from said questions.
Given that there is exactly one authorized Biography (1994, Coleman),
and, that
Coleman devotes exactly ten pages to Jack Daugherty (pages: 73,76,81,97,106,107, 120-122,124)
which comes to 3% of the pagination of the Biography (if one page were devoted entirely to Daugherty),
surely that is insufficient information. In fact, rereading those pages, if you are satisfied with what is said,
that is fine. I did...and, I found the information lacking. That is not bashing Richard,
I am saying the information is incomplete and raises more questions than it answers.

Forgive me if this amounts to any bashing by myself--which, I hope it does not amount to !
 

John Tkacik

Well-Known Member
Can someone explain why the record label and sleeve list a production year of 1974 for "Merry Christmas Darling"? Was anything changed in 1974 to the version released in 1970?
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I think it was copyright. The 70 45 doesn’t have a year on it, just like Offering & CTY do not list 69/70 but just say “Copyright A&M Records.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
There's something I've either just learned or is not true in the book, and I'm simply trying to learn what is reality here. The book states:

"The Carpenters released "Christmas Song" -with its alternate subtitle ("Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire") -as a single in November 1978, and fans got another early Christmas present on the 45's B-side. There was a newly recorded lead vocal and remix of "Merry Christmas, Darling," which the Carpenters had originally recorded in 1970. As they did with "Ticket To Ride" in 1973, the duo replaced Karen's youthful, husky vocal with her now mature, now technically supreme lead. Again, it made a world of difference."

That would indicate that single #1991 would have the remix of "Merry Christmas, Darling" on its B-side. My copy, I swear, has the original 1970 mix, at least that's what I hear based on Karen's reading on the word "special one for you". That sure sounds like her reading on the 1970 mix.

Now, I also have the "Forget Me Nots" version, single #8620, and it sounds identical - the 1970 version. So I now wonder if there's perhaps a later version of #1991 that replaced the B-side with the newer version?
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Wasn’t “Christmas Song” released in 77 to tie into “The Carpenters At Christmas”? The sleeve had the plug for the special. But then a year later the sleeve was reprinted minus the plug. But I noticed on Discogs there’s another matrix number for the single—-8620. (On Discogs it’s connected to a printing with the red 1980’s label from A&M Canada and a white promo.)
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
I have the 1977 45 and I’m certain it has the 1970 vocal as the b-side. I had no idea they released it again the next year but perhaps that reissue has the new vocal on that. I always assumed the matured Karen vocal was done in 1978 when they did the rest of the Christmas recordings with Peter Knight.
 
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