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⭐ Official Review [Single]: 27. "TOUCH ME WHEN WE'RE DANCING"/"BECAUSE WE ARE IN LOVE" (2344-S)

Which side is your favorite?

  • Side A: "Touch Me When We're Dancing"

    Votes: 55 90.2%
  • Side B: "Because We Are In Love"

    Votes: 6 9.8%

  • Total voters
    61
A lot has been said about 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' being out of touch with Top 40 when released but I was just looking at an American Top 40 chart from May 1981, (a couple of months before 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' hit). A lot of the entries make 'Touch Me' seem scintillatingly exciting and super-modern, (for the time). There's 'What Are We Doin' In Love' by country singer Dottie West, 'Blessed Are the Believers', (a smooth, sleepy ballad by Anne Murray), 'Since I Don't Have You', (a languid remake of the 1958 song by The Skyliners, redone by Don McLean and throwing right back to at least the 1960s), 'Crying' by Don MacLean, (also in pretty much the same 1960s style as the Roy Orbison original), 'The Best of Times' by Styx and 'Say You'll be Mine by Christopher Cross, (both real easy listening fare), 'How 'Bout Us' by Champaign, (sort of a cross between 1950s barber-shop harmony quartet, easy-listening romantic ballad and soul), 'Sukiyaki' by A Taste of Honey, (a dreamy remake of a 1961 Japanese song with an Eastern-sounding melody), 'Watching the Wheels', (an easy-listening out-take by John Lennon from previous years), 'Somebody's Knocking', (a country pop song by Terri Gibbs), 'Her Town Too', (a positively sleepy, slow-paced ballad by James Taylor and JD Souther), 'Angel of the Morning', (another slow-paced country pop song by Juice Newton; also another remake from the 1960s), and 'Being With You', (slow-paced ballad tinged with soul by Smokey Robinson).

I agree that 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' was more than a little disappointing as the latest offering from Carpenters when released but would also argue that it sounds at least as modern as the above-mentioned recordings. In fact, when you consider the competition, it really could have been in contention for the Top 5.

I think there was a considerable faction of the recording industry, radio and public in the USA at the time that really wanted to hold on to those old styles and sounds, (and nothing wrong with that, I say).

I think that Karen and Richard knew this and counted upon it - and it could have paid off for them. It partially did.

Anyway, whether a smash or not, what does it matter? Countless people are still enjoying the recording 45 years later.
For the record, I don't have that much of a problem with "Touch Me..." either. I just think it's way overproduced. Richard was clearly trying to assert himself as such and he went way overboard. If Jim Steinman (Meatloaf) produced easy listening tunes, they'd sound like this. Here, there, everywhere a flourish. Karen didn't need that. Just get out of her way and let her deliver. That was always the best way and when he'd do it, the results were stunning. When he didn't, it could get annoying and she'd have to save it with her voice. Frighteningly, she got away with that often. When even she couldn't, the results could be painful.

Ed
 
TMWWD - as recorded - probably would have had a stronger showing on the Top 40 chart a decade before, when Carpenters were relatively new on the scene and that so-called multilayered "Carpenter Sound" was fresh and exciting.

The song - both musically and lyrically - definitely has hit potential. But, it was way over-produced. And by 1981 they were has-beens and that Sound was old hat and getting tedious.

Even the RPO version - where Karen's limited lead vocal work is brought more to the front - did nothing to reduce the over-production: still too many vocal layers and even more orchestral accompaniment. And even Karen's vocal is light weight here as she goes for a sultry, sexy tone that might have sounded better a decade before. Even singing over top of herself on the choruses doesn't help (as it seldom did).

Richard just couldn't let those stale, old techniques go, and Karen was meekly complicit in their continued, futile use. They never learned that very often less is truly more...
 
TMWWD - as recorded - probably would have had a stronger showing on the Top 40 chart a decade before, when Carpenters were relatively new on the scene and that so-called multilayered "Carpenter Sound" was fresh and exciting.
I tend to agree that this production may have had better charting a decade earlier when the Carpenters train was unstoppable. There is a back story to them recording TMWWD and I can’t recall it. It was around 1980, the year could be wrong, and Karen is the one that found the song and they went out to Las Vegas to meet with the writers, or something like that.

But by the year 1980, even though the song did chart, it may have had better reception with more of a single track vocal by Karen than a lush production. Or maybe, a more scaled back arrangement something along what they did on Those Good Old Dreams or really much of the tracks on MIA, mostly all of which I am a fan of.

They never learned that very often less is truly more...
I believe there are a few tracks where less was more, and help me out here but one that comes to mind right away is One More Time.
 
I tend to agree that this production may have had better charting a decade earlier when the Carpenters train was unstoppable. There is a back story to them recording TMWWD and I can’t recall it. It was around 1980, the year could be wrong, and Karen is the one that found the song and they went out to Las Vegas to meet with the writers, or something like that.

But by the year 1980, even though the song did chart, it may have had better reception with more of a single track vocal by Karen than a lush production. Or maybe, a more scaled back arrangement something along what they did on Those Good Old Dreams or really much of the tracks on MIA, mostly all of which I am a fan of.


I believe there are a few tracks where less was more, and help me out here but one that comes to mind right away is One More Time.
"Love Me for What I Am" fits that bill. There's a lot going on at times but more often than not, Richard backs off and lets Karen breathe life into those lyrics like no one else could have.

Ed
 
It’s one of my favorites, it fit perfectly to the summer of ‘81. It’s already been explained that some stations were slower to pick it up than others which is why it stalled at 16. It should have gone higher. It wouldn’t have sounded right at all in 1971, released at the same time as For All We Know and Superstar and Rainy Days and Mondays. It has the summery, breezy, light early 80’s pop feel through and through. Well done!
 
There is a back story to them recording TMWWD and I can’t recall it. It was around 1980, the year could be wrong, and Karen is the one that found the song and they went out to Las Vegas to meet with the writers, or something like that.

But by the year 1980, even though the song did chart, it may have had better reception with more of a single track vocal by Karen than a lush production. Or maybe, a more scaled back arrangement something along what they did on Those Good Old Dreams or really much of the tracks on MIA, mostly all of which I am a fan of.


I believe there are a few tracks where less was more, and help me out here but one that comes to mind right away is One More Time.
I think you’re thinking of ‘Sweet, Sweet Smile’. Karen found that one.

‘Touch Me When We’re Dancing’ was a semi-well-known song when it was a slight radio and Billboard Hot 100 hit for Alabama the year before Carpenters recorded it.

Alabama had also reached Number 42 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart with their version.
 
I think, melodically and lyrics-wise, Touch Me When We’re Dancing just isn’t up there with Carpenters’ plethora of golden hits from the 70s. Composition-wise, it just isn’t of the same standard.

Add to that the fact that Karen didn’t sound herself on it; that big, warm, magical vocal sound didn’t shine through; and I think it would have fizzled, whenever it was released.
 
I think, melodically and lyrics-wise, Touch Me When We’re Dancing just isn’t up there with Carpenters’ plethora of golden hits from the 70s. Composition-wise, it just isn’t of the same standard.

Add to that the fact that Karen didn’t sound herself on it; that big, warm, magical vocal sound didn’t shine through; and I think it would have fizzled, whenever it was released.
I wouldn’t exactly say it fizzled. Getting to 16 isn’t all that bad considering their last top 40 was in 77, and last top 20 was in 76. I love the whole MIA album, but this was the best choice for a single from it and was a great way to get back on the radio. The other singles though didn’t do much to help them keep this little bit of momentum going, unfortunately.
 
...

But by the year 1980, even though the song did chart, it may have had better reception with more of a single track vocal by Karen than a lush production. Or maybe, a more scaled back arrangement something along what they did on Those Good Old Dreams or really much of the tracks on MIA, mostly all of which I am a fan of.

Exactly! TGOD is a lovely, understated production, is thoroughly listenable, and is a great example of what could have been done with TMWWD...

I believe there are a few tracks where less was more, and help me out here but one that comes to mind right away is One More Time.

Yes! OMT is awesomely simple and simply awesome - excuse me while I go listen to it - its been too long...
 
I think you’re thinking of ‘Sweet, Sweet Smile’. Karen found that one.

‘Touch Me When We’re Dancing’ was a semi-well-known song when it was a slight radio and Billboard Hot 100 hit for Alabama the year before Carpenters recorded it.

Alabama had also reached Number 42 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart with their version.
Actually it was 'Bama who released it in '79, it was #86 on Billboard, 49 on Adult Contemporary. Alabama did theirs in 1986, it went #1 on the country chart - easily confused band names for sure.
 
I think you’re thinking of ‘Sweet, Sweet Smile’. Karen found that one.
That's the second Carpenters trivia I learned today :thumbsup: thanks! I still keep thinking that I read somewhere or heard it in an interview that Karen found TMWWD, also. Oh well.
 
It’s one of my favorites, it fit perfectly to the summer of ‘81. It’s already been explained that some stations were slower to pick it up than others which is why it stalled at 16. It should have gone higher. It wouldn’t have sounded right at all in 1971, released at the same time as For All We Know and Superstar and Rainy Days and Mondays. It has the summery, breezy, light early 80’s pop feel through and through. Well done!
I'm 100% with Matthew on this. I think TMWWD is perfectly produced and Richard was on his game big time. I do agree, at times, Richard can "overproduce" (a-la Make Believe It's Your First Time an almost everything he contracted Peter Knight to do), but this isn't one of them. I remember it well when it was on the charts and radio and it fit in magnificently...as Mathew S states " Summery, breezy, light early 80's pop feel..." Also, it was a great direction...finally... that the Carpenters were heading for the 80's. One of my favorite albums by our favorite duo.
 
There are times I want to knock Touch Me, and then I hear it again. It's really good! In fact, while I find much of the album a hit or miss collection, this one is probably the most hit-worthy, Top 40 friendly record on the whole album.
 
I agree with you all about Touch Me being a great fit for radio at that time. I wish it would have gone to top 10, but as Matthew said, 16 is not bad. I remember it being played quite a bit on local radio well into the mid 80's.

Because We Are In Love is such a beautiful performance from Karen. I wish somehow that it had different lyrics and was not connected to her wedding, as I realize that fact alone has made it so off-putting to so many, besides some of the lyrics being quite sappy. Sometimes I just listen to the opening verse and skip the rest. Her voice is so gorgeous. I pretend she's singing about life in general. 🙂
 
[SNIP]...as Mathew S states " Summery, breezy, light early 80's pop feel..."
As @Matthew S originally stated and you support, I also agree with this. I like the song. I do agree with others though who point to Karen's vocals as not carrying the same "magic" we expect. Our voices change as we age, but of course her disease was almost certainly at play here.

I remember commenting long ago that TMWWD sounded like a song that may have been written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, otherwise known as Boy Meets Girl, who hit it big in I think 1988 with Waiting for a Star to Fall (that song, by the way, seems to be a love it or hate it song - I happen to love it, complete with all the syrup I can layer onto it :wink: )

Edit: originally had 1982 as the release of their song, in error)
 
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Because We Are In Love is such a beautiful performance from Karen. I wish somehow that it had different lyrics and was not connected to her wedding, as I realize that fact alone has made it so off-putting to so many, besides some of the lyrics being quite sappy. Sometimes I just listen to the opening verse and skip the rest. Her voice is so gorgeous. I pretend she's singing about life in general. 🙂
I thought that I was the only one that did this. I absolutely love the lines from “children” all the way to “but what my heart says I will give you” What an interpretation Karen gives to those lyrics.

I think that’s why I love this song so much because those lyrics can be about life in general and even your own personal relationships. It always takes me back when I needed my mom’s advice on something and she was always there to listen and instilled confidence that I would get through it. Faith and Hope.

Those opening lines immediately take me back to my childhood. Here, Karen’s vocals can instill memories of the past along with hope for tomorrow.
 
I agree with you all about Touch Me being a great fit for radio at that time. I wish it would have gone to top 10, but as Matthew said, 16 is not bad. I remember it being played quite a bit on local radio well into the mid 80's.

Because We Are In Love is such a beautiful performance from Karen. I wish somehow that it had different lyrics and was not connected to her wedding, as I realize that fact alone has made it so off-putting to so many, besides some of the lyrics being quite sappy. Sometimes I just listen to the opening verse and skip the rest. Her voice is so gorgeous. I pretend she's singing about life in general. 🙂
As expressed above I don't necessarily dislike "Because We Are In Love," it's Carpenter/Bettis after all and I don't find the lyrics corny, but rather unique and unusual. Asking your Ma for advice is a fairly common behavior, but not really mentioned in a whole lot of songs. There are plenty of "Mama told me not to do this or that!" but the approach here is quite different from anything else I can think of. I always love Bettis' lyrics, can't think of a single exception.

I cant help but think of you know what and you know who but as the song is well done (perhaps a bit overdone as has been discussed aplenty) and she sounds great I can't skip it. I listen to the whole thing every time.

My system is to - as soon as it's done I put on "We've Only Just Begun" as the antidote / mood lifter. Definitely the better end of the bookend wedding songs.

Touch Me When We're Dancing is not a super favorite of mine but it is a prime example of Richard Carpenter taking a merely "OK" song and elevating it above what anyone else can do with it. The other versions I haven't listened to even a second time.
 
As expressed above I don't necessarily dislike "Because We Are In Love," it's Carpenter/Bettis after all and I don't find the lyrics corny, but rather unique and unusual. Asking your Ma for advice is a fairly common behavior, but not really mentioned in a whole lot of songs. There are plenty of "Mama told me not to do this or that!" but the approach here is quite different from anything else I can think of. I always love Bettis' lyrics, can't think of a single exception.

I cant help but think of you know what and you know who but as the song is well done (perhaps a bit overdone as has been discussed aplenty) and she sounds great I can't skip it. I listen to the whole thing every time.

My system is to - as soon as it's done I put on "We've Only Just Begun" as the antidote / mood lifter. Definitely the better end of the bookend wedding songs.

Touch Me When We're Dancing is not a super favorite of mine but it is a prime example of Richard Carpenter taking a merely "OK" song and elevating it above what anyone else can do with it. The other versions I haven't listened to even a second time.
Alabama took the tune to #1 roughly six years after so their version was significantly more successful.

Ed
 
As expressed above I don't necessarily dislike "Because We Are In Love," it's Carpenter/Bettis after all and I don't find the lyrics corny, but rather unique and unusual. Asking your Ma for advice is a fairly common behavior, but not really mentioned in a whole lot of songs. There are plenty of "Mama told me not to do this or that!" but the approach here is quite different from anything else I can think of. I always love Bettis' lyrics, can't think of a single exception.

I cant help but think of you know what and you know who but as the song is well done (perhaps a bit overdone as has been discussed aplenty) and she sounds great I can't skip it. I listen to the whole thing every time.

Yes. Asking a mother for her wisdom and advice before a wedding is fairly common. Perhaps my use of the word 'sappy' to describe the lyrics is putting it too strongly. I just think about lyrics like ".. your eyes begin to open", and I think it's often the exact opposite when someone falls in love. 😄 At least at first. But I'm nitpicking. Overall I think the piece is very impressive and a gorgeous melody and production.
 
Yes, BWAIL is Richard Carpenter melodically and John Bettis lyrically - and that was always a sure thing, a winning combination.

Yes, it was a slight over-production and had an excessive arrangement - it was, in fact, a "show tune", a special creation for a very special occasion, and the wedding was that (and ultimately it was a show of sorts). The highlight of the arrangement is the upshift in the tempo about half way through which is very appealing - and an effective technique we had come to expect and love in a number of Carpenter songs. And there were all those gorgeous low notes that always gave us "so much goosebumps"...

Yes, Karen did sing it beautifully. We would have expected nothing less. It's truly amazing how good she sounded, given her health problems at the time - and the distinct possibility that her heart was not completely or fully attuned to the lyrics, given the stunning last minute revelations by the groom about has reproductive capabilities (or lack thereof) and the intimidating "advise" from dear old mom to bite the bullet and go through with the ceremony anyway, thus making a mockery of that sentimental "mama" part of the lyrics...

Yes, this was a turning point in Karen's life, but the direction was not upward and onward. Playing "Goodby to Love" would have been much more appropriate than BWAIL...
 
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