Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, May 5, 2018.
^^ Sounds like a girl I used to date.
A shame because Richard must have wanted it to be very special. I think he tried too hard...
First time I heard "Touch Me When We're Dancing" Monday, June 22, 1981 on FM 96 WHNN in Saginaw, Michigan when it became an Adult Contemporary station for the first time replacing the rock station since April of 1978. I was 16 years old. Matt Clark Sanford, MI
Is this the only single polled so far where the A side has received all the votes to date?
I've been thinking the very same thing as I've seen this poll develop...
^^Well I haven't voted yet
Not all of them. Someone voted for the b-side. Expose thyself and tell us why. For my part, I'm honestly curious. No shade will be thrown your way. Come clean, darn it. It's good for the soul.
It was I! Mostly because I'm a rabble-rouser but also because I genuinely do like the song and the vocal/musical performance is much more emotionally involving than Touch Me for reasons I explained above.
Jarred, thanks for coming on and "fessing up" !
I guess it's Jarred and me against the world.
Seriously, I have always been a champion of this song. It's easy for me to brush aside what we know happened with Karen and Tom while I listen to this track. I can't let it distract me from how Karen puts so much emotion into this song, especially the first half of the song for me.
I really like how Karen tells a story for the listener and takes us on this journey. I love how Karen interprets the lyrics of "it was more fun to be children, we just took life as it happen" and I love how Karen sings, "come and sit by my side, listen to me, words come so hard" I don't know why but those few lyrics sends goosebumps up my arms, the raw emotion of her singing those words get to me.
Rick, yes, thank you! You basically summed up exactly how I feel about the emotional aspect of the song. It's really one of her most committed performances (certainly of the 80s) and I love how she uses the different turns of the lyric and melody to find new pockets of feeling.
My favourite is 'Because We Are In Love'. I love both Karen's low notes and her high notes on this song. I think her lowest recorded note appears in 'Because We Are In Love' - which is something like D below Middle C.
I thought it was exciting when 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' was released in 1981 after not having heard anything new by Carpenters for about two and a half years but, at the same time, thought that the recording was almost like colouring by numbers, (a little formulaic), and wasn't as special as their earlier songs.
Karen's vocal on 'Because We Are In Love' is quite magical, whereas 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' isn't anything out of the box.
Btw, has anyone noticed that a different lead vocal take was played on 'Because We Are In Love' at Karen's wedding? (This can be heard on the YouTube wedding video).
A DJ who I used to write to as a teenager sent me a typed letter as soon as this single was released saying that Carpenters had a new single called 'Tough Me When We're Dancing', (obviously a typo). I couldn't imagine The Carpenters singing a song called 'Tough Me When We're Dancing' and wondered what the song could be about. I thought, "That doesn't sound like a hit".
As it was, the song got no air play. I think the only time I heard it on radio was on 'American Top 40'. Considering that the main record-buying public was teenagers, the image of two people dancing and touching, as seen on the piano-top on the video, was dull. It was too Adult Contemporary to appeal to the record-buying public. Also, there was too much exciting stuff coming out of Britain at the time - new-wave, new romantic, electronica, ska. There was also a bit of reggae-influenced stuff around, which was popular. Then there was all the good old high-energy Aussie pub rock. Against the competition, 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' didn't have a chance.
Why wasn’t anyone at the label looking at this video - which was their big comeback single - and saying “guys, this is corny. Let’s start over”?
They were majorly let down by the label and the marketing team. Yes, Karen looked terrible in the video but surely they could have come up with something better than this. Erasing the dancing couple on the piano would have even been a decent start.
Actually, until Feb 1983, I had never seen the video aired on Television.
And, not until its release on the 1985 VHS Yesterday Once More Compilation
did I see the entirety of the video for Touch Me When We're Dancing.
I never thought of it in terms of "promotion" (in 1981) because I never saw it aired in 1981 !
I do not think it such an awful video, the sequence that always caught my eye is
when Richard changes position from one piano to the other---awkwardly filmed-- I'd say.
But, none of the MIA videos could have turned out much "better," as
I believe the expense---at that time--
would have been prohibitive for A&M doing anything better on any of them (TMWWD, TGOD, B45789).
This is another tune (one of many) that's saved by Richard's vocal arrangements. It's almost maddening how he could save corny tunes with his vocal arrangements. He gives this more vocal ear candy than it deserves. There are too many moments to mention here. That is where his genius truly lies and it showed on this tune.
This begs the question “why all the corny tunes then?”. He definitely turned out a lot of sub-par tracks during the last five years of their career as a duo, far too many for my liking. Many of them surfaced on VOTH. He’d definitely lost his touch from 1978 onwards.
“Made in America” was the Richard Show. There’s not a tune on that record that isn’t over-produced. He was far too heavy-handed with the strings especially. It’d be fun to hear that album without the orchestrations. The tunes would likely breathe better. If I never hear an oboe again, it’ll be too soon. He assumed to be a virtue and it isn’t for me.
Richard was near his most uncool by this point and that he could still save that uncoolnees with his vocal arrangements speaks volumes.
I think that because we know how important videos were to become as promotional tools later on in the 1980s and 1990s, we forget that in their early days, they'd very rarely be shown or seen, and certainly not in their entirety (remember, MTV didn't even exist when 'Touch Me...' was released as a single).
As far as I can tell, their main use was to potentially promote the single in other markets to save artists having to travel there themselves - the video for 'Calling Occupants' was shown on Top of the Pops in the UK when the single was climbing the charts there - although once again, there weren't many programmes at that time that would show videos in any case. The only other time I imagine they were used was in brief snippets being included in news reports (should there be any).
So, I'd agree that the videos for the Made in America singles were pretty corny, but I doubt they had any impact one way or the other on the success of (or lack of) these singles on the charts at the time.
The 'Calling Occupants' video was shown a number of times on our government-run TV station when the song was a hit here. What made the song a hit, more than that, was that it was all over the airwaves. It seemed to be on high rotation on any radio station you turned to at the time. It was Top 5 here and Top 10 in most other states. It would have done better than its national Number 13 peak except it peaked in different states at different times. However, this situation led to it spending seven months on the national charts.
The difference between 'Calling Occupants' and 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' is that the first appealed to the youth, who were the ones who were going to flock into record stores and buy the record, while the second, if it was going to appeal to anyone much, would have probably touched mainly adults, who weren't as likely to buy singles.
I'm not aware that the 'Touch Me' video was played here and the single wasn't played much on radio. Programmers would have recognised that neither would have had mass appeal to kids. Subsequently, the song peaked at Number 78.
The video for 'Beechwood 45789' got at least one airing on one of the hip pop and rock TV programmes. However, it didn't get played on radio and didn't even reach the Top 100.
Calling Occupants only got to 32 in the States so it wasn’t really a hit here. I wouldn’t have pegged it for one either. I like it because it’s conoletely gonzo but it fits in nowhere. It’s not something that would have worked on radio and it doesn’t work well edited.
Lol. I like your description.
I feel the opposite. I suppose because we heard the edited version of 'Calling Occupants' so much here on radio, that sounds right as the song, whereas the long version sounds alien. You can travel anywhere while the album version is playing, come back anytime later and it's still going.
My earlier point, way back, was that the mental image suggested by the feel and lyrics of 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' was not going to grab the kids, (the record buying public).
I think the video with the couple slow-dancing on the piano actually does illustrate what the song was about and shows how out of touch the whole concept was with what was going to land a big hit at the time. I do agree with what everyone is saying, but the cause of the record stalling as a potential hit goes much deeper than the video.
A glance at the Top 25 for 1981 in my country shows that new wave, electronica, dance, jaunty rock and heavier rock was most successful at bringing record buyers into the stores that year. The biggest hits of the year were by Adam and the Ants, Devo, Shakin' Stevens, Jona Lewie, Loverboy, Phil Seymour, Kim Wilde, Rolling Stones and Men At Work. The biggest hit of all was by nervous, nerdy neurotic New Zealanders, The Swingers. Other Top 5 hits that year were by Split Enz, Blondie and Soft Cell. All of these songs were jittery, rollicking uptempo records or harder rock.
Even the few slower songs of the massive hits had an edge. Carly Simon's 'Jesse' referenced stained sheets, for example - and still had a bit of a rock sound.
I recognise that there was a much bigger market for adult contemporary music in the US than in Britain or Australia, etc., at the time, but 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' was never really going to stand out, amongst the more attention-grabbing, trendy and foot-tapping competition.
Thank goodness for both ends of the spectrum, though - the softer sound of The Carpenters and the more progressive, boundary pushing and energetic music of the day.
I wasn’t listening to the radio then (I was either four or five) so I missed the edit. The long version is quite a ride. It’s just bizarre from beginning to end and Richard should get a medal for doing it. Few would have thought to do it. Fewer would have had the guts to actually do it. Peter Knight is a genius. Lastly, Karen has the nerve to make this beautiful foolishness sound sweet. No alien would ever refuse her cuddly encouragement to make itself known. When she sings “we are your friends”, any alien within range would have come right out of their ship and given her a hug.
MTV went on the air August 1st. That would have been around the time that "TMWWD" peaked at #16 on Billboard for a few weeks. Whether the video made it into MTV's rotation that month is anybody's guess at this point in time.