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⭐ Official Review [Single]: 4. "MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING"/"MR. GUDER" (1236-S)

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Oh, I need to thank Stephen for this Upload--
the Ray Moore 1981 Radio Interview, I note Karen's comments regarding
Christmas Portrait and White Christmas (starting with "Manilow gets to me..." 22 min.):
Karen:
" If I'm upset...I'll put on our Christmas Album....that'll bring me to tears..."
And,
" It upsets us that music like that isn't accepted anymore..." (23:13).
Karen:
Because We Are In Love...
" We cut it three days before the wedding..." (26:53)
" This tune is a vocal feat,I'll tell ya...."(32:45)

Many great photos, too (Interesting one at 26:20 with Richard's look !).



Thanks, Stephen.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
I am not voting for the time being because it is just such a weird paring. A Christmas standard and a cut from the "Close To You" album. I love both of the songs. It simply would not be Christmas without Merry Christmas Darling but I love Mr Guder also. I love the album cut and I love it whenever Karen sings it live because of her facial expressions and how she gets so animated singing it. Impossible choice!:confused:
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Here is something I have never noticed:
Richard Carpenter,
"Most recordings, except the ‘A Song For You’ album, were done with Steinway A (one of four),
which was an A&M Studios piano; I think it was terrific. My only complaint was that it was 'well-worn'
and creaked, like inMerry Christmas Darling’, which starts with just Karen and piano.
When the pedal was pushed the assembly which goes up into the piano (lyre) creaked.
Steinway model 'B', 7 footer.”

Here:
Carpenters Fans Ask-Richard Answers Archive
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
From LaCrosse, Wisconsin Newspaper today (I grew-up there in the early 70's ! ):

Holiday classic with Onalaska roots makes a guy pine

Randy Erickson covers arts and entertainment and county government for the La Crosse Tribune.
"Today, I’m thinking of Frank Pooler."
---
"Back in 2005, I interviewed Pooler about “Merry Christmas, Darling,” and he shared the story of how he
and Richard came to write the song in 1966. The Carpenters (who weren’t yet “The Carpenters”)
were playing together in a trio and were looking for some fresh holiday material."
---
"The thing to keep in mind that Pooler told me the story of the song when he was almost 80 years old.
I’m pretty sure his memories are still sharp, but I’ve never gotten to hear the story of the song from
the other co-writer or to hear all about the early days at Long Beach.
---
"Richard, if you see this, let’s talk, OK ? "
---
More:
lacrossetribune.com/entertainment/randy-erickson-holiday-classic-with-onalaska-roots-makes-a-guy/article_f92868b4-1ef8-5e54-94b3-cc42f0ea6a1e.html

 

Simon KC1950

Well-Known Member
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
Well today marks exactly 50 years since "Merry Christmas Darling" was released!

The perfect day to hear it for the first time this year! And for me nothing beats that original with Karen’s soulful, wounded reading. I hear the 78 version too but she takes much of the humanity out of it. Richard was right that nothing was lacking in the original.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Merry Christmas Darling is one of my all-time favorite songs, period.
Right up there with We've Only Just Begun. A perfect Carpenters' Song.

Ask me to flip the 45 to play Mr.Guder and you'll get a resounding 'No' !
(Mr. Guder ranks near the bottom of my song list.)
I agree fully - I also agree with those who say that another Christmas song should have been the side B selection - maybe an early version of "The Christmas Waltz"...MCD is one of the very best Christmas songs ever composed, right up there at the top in company with "White Christmas", "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts..)", "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

I included it on one of my own homemade Carpenter "greatest hits" CDs and listen to it all year. I even like the story of how the melody was composed by Richard 20 years after Frank Pooler wrote the lyrics (Frank had a melody which he didn't like and which he wouldn't let Richard hear).

"Mr. Guder" should never have been recorded - Richard said in an interview that he regretted it - he and Bettis were young and foolish and spiteful at the time and it shows in the lyrics - the creativeness they exhibited on this song's composition could have been put to much better use on some other song/subject matter...
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
I agree fully - I also agree with those who say that another Christmas song should have been the side B selection - maybe an early version of "The Christmas Waltz"...MCD is one of the very best Christmas songs ever composed, right up there at the top in company with "White Christmas", "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts..)", "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

I included it on one of my own homemade Carpenter "greatest hits" CDs and listen to it all year. I even like the story of how the melody was composed by Richard 20 years after Frank Pooler wrote the lyrics (Frank had a melody which he didn't like and which he wouldn't let Richard hear).

"Mr. Guder" should never have been recorded - Richard said in an interview that he regretted it - he and Bettis were young and foolish and spiteful at the time and it shows in the lyrics - the creativeness they exhibited on this song's composition could have been put to much better use on some other song/subject matter...
I think when the original version was released in 1970 as a single, they hadn’t recorded any other Christmas songs yet, therefore they used a B side from their most recent album.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
I think when the original version was released in 1970 as a single, they hadn’t recorded any other Christmas songs yet, therefore they used a B side from their most recent album.
You're correct, of course, but couldn't they have easily recorded another Christmas song while recording MCD? How hard could that have been? In any event, why a sophomoric teenage protest song like Mr Guder?
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
You're correct, of course, but couldn't they have easily recorded another Christmas song while recording MCD? How hard could that have been? In any event, why a sophomoric teenage protest song like Mr Guder?
I suppose they could have easily done anything they wanted. And it appears what they wanted was to record MCD and back it up with a song they liked. Maybe since they had just released the CTY album they had limited time to put together any other Christmas songs. Maybe they were busy touring and only had a day to record the one song. Maybe that’s all they wanted to do at that time. I guess the only way to know for sure is for someone to ask Richard if he remembers why.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I’ll stick up for Mr. Guder. The song was very personal to them at the time. A b side written by Richard meant more royalties on sales. As I’ve written before, to see Karen perform and play drums in perfect sync with Cubby O’Brien, was amazingly captivating to me back in 1973, and every time I saw them after, except the Christmas Concert. They jazzed it up, extending the length of the song, the ending vocal duel between Karen and Richard was just fun! It’s one of the few live songs Karen played drums on. The other was “Help”. She was in her element big time, drumming and singing. I’m so lucky to have witnessed that in person.
 

ars nova

Well-Known Member
I suppose they could have easily done anything they wanted. And it appears what they wanted was to record MCD and back it up with a song they liked. Maybe since they had just released the CTY album they had limited time to put together any other Christmas songs. Maybe they were busy touring and only had a day to record the one song. Maybe that’s all they wanted to do at that time. I guess the only way to know for sure is for someone to ask Richard if he remembers why.
i think i have read that MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING and FOR ALL WE KNOW were recorded during the same session. i expect MR GUDER was selected as the b-side so that richard and john could collect the royalties. i have also read that because of the royalties he accrued, richard paid a higher percentage than karen into the band and staff retirement fund. i don't know the validity of the information.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
"Mr. Guder" should never have been recorded - Richard said in an interview that he regretted it - he and Bettis were young and foolish and spiteful at the time and it shows in the lyrics - the creativeness they exhibited on this song's composition could have been put to much better use on some other song/subject matter...

I wouldn’t trade Mr. Guder’s subject matter for another love song with the same arrangement. It’s an amazingly inventive, experimental tune and the second half underscores the sadness about it all underneath the initial buoyancy. The duo became the image of corporate, establishment pop music (even if it wasn’t actually all together true in every way) and to hear them roast a man for wanting to squash the individuality of youth has a lot of resonance, both personal and universal.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Yes, seeing & hearing Karen behind the drums was always a great pleasure (not the best audio/video here) and Bob Messinger on electric flute is outstanding as always - i really do like the creative structure of the piece and the innovative arrangement -

The lyrics could have been about many things and the song would have worked, and it probably did for the vast majority of fans who had no idea of the back story and assumed it was some kind of general protest song, and who didn't care who it was about or what the point really was.

Randy Schmidt documents the real story in just 4 paragraphs in "Little Girl Blue" - the boys continually broke their rules of employment at Disneyland - it was Mr. Guder's job to enforce those rules - he apparently let them get away with this for quite a while and then their employment was terminated - they claim they were fired - Guder says not, and that their season of employment had simply come to an end...rightly or wrongly, they compose a "get even" or revenge song - was this justified or simply an immature reaction to a bad situation they had created? Should they have mentioned Guder by name? Why did they both express regret at the song's lyrics, Bettis right away and Richard later?

Guder wasn't stifling or squashing their youthful creativity but simply doing his job - overseeing all talent at Disneyland - including enforcing the rules that Richard and John had agreed to when they accepted their jobs there.

If they had written an honest song the lyrics would have been about what defiant, smart-ass, rule breakers they were while taking advantage of Mr. Guder's patient good nature, all the while being paid very well to do so (assuming Randy's account is accurate).
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
"Mr. Guder" is a fun song. And no-one bought the "Merry Christmas Darling" single because of it. Most people who bought the Christmas single already owned "Mr. Guder" on the CLOSE TO YOU album - and it was the full version there, not the edited version that appeared on the single.

It was always a crowd-pleaser in concert.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
Randy Schmidt documents the real story in just 4 paragraphs in "Little Girl Blue" - the boys continually broke their rules of employment at Disneyland - it was Mr. Guder's job to enforce those rules - he apparently let them get away with this for quite a while and then their employment was terminated - they claim they were fired - Guder says not, and that their season of employment had simply come to an end...rightly or wrongly, they compose a "get even" or revenge song - was this justified or simply an immature reaction to a bad situation they had created? Should they have mentioned Guder by name? Why did they both express regret at the song's lyrics, Bettis right away and Richard later?

Guder wasn't stifling or squashing their youthful creativity but simply doing his job - overseeing all talent at Disneyland - including enforcing the rules that Richard and John had agreed to when they accepted their jobs there

I mean, they weren’t calling for Guder to be burned at the stake, they personalized the song using his name as the title, as he literally reflects the image just as his name echos what they sing about. He may have been doing his job but his job as a stiff, aboslutely no-nonsense enforcer was not something they thought justified. Even if he did give the boys some leeway, I believe it’s Richard taking some artistic license and adding onto the storytelling for the purpose of the song is itself justified. The world is full of “Guder’s”; even if they can be far worse than the man himself, they always stand for the same thing for usually similar reasons. The duo put a face on what that kind of man is even as the men try to make the youth under their thumbs faceless.

In a bizarrely fitting contemporary parallel, today the name “Karen” is used to describe a very specific kind of nasty, entitled woman (of which our beloved Ms. Carpenter genuinely didn’t fit within such a mold, in appearance or character, and we love her all the more for it), and you could use the phrase “a Guder” to describe an older authoritative man wielding his power for his own satisfaction. In that sense alone the song has aged brilliantly.
 
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Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
"Mr. Guder" is a fun song. And no-one bought the "Merry Christmas Darling" single because of it. Most people who bought the Christmas single already owned "Mr. Guder" on the CLOSE TO YOU album - and it was the full version there, not the edited version that appeared on the single.

It was always a crowd-pleaser in concert.

It MUST be Christmastime...Look at Harry's avatar! Nice touch Harry.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
The world is full of “Guder’s”; even if they can be far worse than the man himself, they always stand for the same thing for usually similar reasons. The duo put a face on what that kind of man is even as the men try to make the youth under their thumbs faceless.

In a bizarrely fitting contemporary parallel, today the name “Karen” is used to describe a very specific kind of nasty, entitled woman (of which our beloved Ms. Carpenter genuinely didn’t fit within such a mold, in appearance or character, and we love her all the more for it), and you could use the phrase “a Guder” to describe an older authoritative man wielding his power for his own satisfaction. In that sense alone the song has aged brilliantly.
Given the lack of details about the interactions over timI'm not convinced that Mr. Guder
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Here's what I was editing above when the time limit ran out:

Well, we really don't know very much about their interactions during the course of their employment - of how it went personally from day to day - but from what we do know I'm not convinced that Mr. Guder was actually a "Guder" as you describe him, or as they portrayed him - he could just as well have been a very nice guy who they, as young, talented, assertive young men tend to do, pushed to the limits of his patience. We really haven't heard his side of the story except for the little tidbit he told Randy. The question still remains as to why both Richard and John came to regret the song as they aged and matured.

I will admit this: I was a fairly defiant smart-ass guy myself when I was a teenager and I feel pretty sure I would have behaved just like Richard and John probably were doing in that situation - their biggest rule violation seems to have been playing requests from people for modern rock songs instead of the old, tired early 1900s tunes they were obligated to play in the themed setting where they were working long hours. I can understand why they often honored these requests, and would have done the same thing myself, if only to kill the tediousness and crush the boredom.

And yes, I've heard that use of the name "Karen" and, as my wife will testify, swear like the proverbial sailor every time I hear it.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Found this - a Disney-type blog: Richard Carpenter & Mr. Guder - AllEars.Net

In the comments section, this was posted:

Debbie
OCTOBER 15, 2014 AT 6:21 PM
I am related to the Mr. Guder the song is about. He was my grandfathers brother. He was not happy about this song and sued them to get it off the airwaves. The rest of the family was shock when it was released and many people inquired as to whether we had anything to do with it.


Of course anyone can say anything on the Internet, so we can't really know the truth. It all happened more than 50 years ago and time has a way of clouding the real story.

I still think it's a great little song and am amazed that very few recognize the real lyrics. Instead of the common "Walk in at nine...", Karen is really singing, "Clock in at nine..."
 

Guitarmutt

Well-Known Member
Funny enough, they could have used ‘Another Song’. It’s a Carpenter/Bettis tune, and the opening twenty seconds uses music from the Messiah. Boom! A nod to Christmas. Plus, there is the great jam at the end which is always uplifting to me. It’s odd they didn’t think of it.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Richard has rebellion in his soul. Examples; Your Wonderful Parade, Mr. Guder. Wasn't the problem with the Disneyland gig was that they were playing Beatles songs when they should've been doing the old barbershop harmony stuff? Wasn't that the same complaint of the choir director at Downey Methodist Church? That Richard was playing Beatles tunes on the organ when he should've been playing hymns? I didn't know Richard was such a counter-culture guy! :laugh:
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
Richard has rebellion in his soul. Examples; Your Wonderful Parade, Mr. Guder. Wasn't the problem with the Disneyland gig was that they were playing Beatles songs when they should've been doing the old barbershop harmony stuff? Wasn't that the same complaint of the choir director at Downey Methodist Church? That Richard was playing Beatles tunes on the organ when he should've been playing hymns? I didn't know Richard was such a counter-culture guy! :laugh:

And don’t forget the implied naughtiness of Druscilla Penny. Some of those lyrics are very clever double entendres. Even Piano Picker might have some of that.
 
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