• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy 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 available for ordering here.

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

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
One of the two main hobbies I took up after I retired was playing piano (the other one was clay target shooting) - I'm teaching myself to play and have been at it for more than a few years now - at the moment I'm learning "Merry Christmas, Darling" (trying to memorize it) - I have two versions, both of intermediate difficulty - the first is in a collection of Christmas songs edited by Dan Coates, one of the most prolific compilers/editors of songbooks for piano, and the other is the version that appears in the Carpenter's "Anthology" - the first is in the key of C Major and the second in the key of Bb Major - my arrangement plan is to combine them such that I'll play the first all the way through in C to the first ending and then when the song returns to the bridge ("The lights on my tree I wish you could see...") switch to the version in Bb - can anyone suggest a 1 measure, 4 beat chord transition or progression from C to Bb so that the change is not too abrupt? Or would an abrupt switch, with no transition, be more effective?
 

Guitarmutt

Well-Known Member
One of the two main hobbies I took up after I retired was playing piano (the other one was clay target shooting) - I'm teaching myself to play and have been at it for more than a few years now - at the moment I'm learning "Merry Christmas, Darling" (trying to memorize it) - I have two versions, both of intermediate difficulty - the first is in a collection of Christmas songs edited by Dan Coates, one of the most prolific compilers/editors of songbooks for piano, and the other is the version that appears in the Carpenter's "Anthology" - the first is in the key of C Major and the second in the key of Bb Major - my arrangement plan is to combine them such that I'll play the first all the way through in C to the first ending and then when the song returns to the bridge ("The lights on my tree I wish you could see...") switch to the version in Bb - can anyone suggest a 1 measure, 4 beat chord transition or progression from C to Bb so that the change is not too abrupt? Or would an abrupt switch, with no transition, be more effective?
Gonna take a stab at this, though Chris May here is really the resident expert. I have the Bb music, never seen it in C. My first suggestion is try a bass line in your left hand. Start simple: Single eighth notes: step up, two down, step up two down. It sounds like Christmas. So, single eigth notes as experiment: F-G-Eb-F-Db-Eb-C- eigth note rest (leading into ‘the’) -Db chord(on ‘lights’) which puts you in the Bb key. I think.
I like the idea of downward modulation. It’s so rare. I hope it works. I think it will. Think of this suggestion merely as that, an idea that may lead to a foundation for something more.

That line is meant to be played in one measure. Don’t be afraid to use rubato; take a breath, take your time.
 
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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Most key modulations go up. It's pretty rare to see one go down a key. I've seen a piece start in one key, modulate up, and then go back down to the original key.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
Gonna take a stab at this, though Chris May here is really the resident expert. I have the Bb music, never seen it in C. My first suggestion is try a bass line in your left hand. Start simple: Single eighth notes: step up, two down, step up two down. It sounds like Christmas. So, single eigth notes as experiment: F-G-Eb-F-Db-Eb-C- eigth note rest (leading into ‘the’) -Db chord(on ‘lights’) which puts you in the Bb key. I think I like the idea of downward modulation. It’s so rare. I hope it works. I think it will. Think of this suggestion merely as that, an idea that may lead to a foundation for something more.

That line is meant to be played in one measure. Don’t be afraid to use rubato; take a breath, take your time.
I definitely want to playing that Db chord on the word "lights", but maybe also on the word "the" leading into that measure - "the" is slurred across 2 eighth notes (Db-E) in the Bb version - the word "you" at the beginning of the last measure is carried by the middle C note in both versions, so there may be only 2 beats (4 eighth notes) to get from a CMajor chord to Db chord - I'll play with your suggestion to see how it works or can be adapted - thanks for this...

And rubato here would match the rubato used in the transition from the intro into the 1st verse ("...a special one for you.") I'm really excited to be working on this beautiful song - hope I can get it "under my fingers" before Christmas...
 

Guitarmutt

Well-Known Member
I definitely want to playing that Db chord on the word "lights", but maybe also on the word "the" leading into that measure - "the" is slurred across 2 eighth notes (Db-E) in the Bb version - the word "you" at the beginning of the last measure is carried by the middle C note in both versions, so there may be only 2 beats (4 eighth notes) to get from a CMajor chord to Db chord - I'll play with your suggestion to see how it works or can be adapted - thanks for this...

And rubato here would match the rubato used in the transition from the intro into the 1st verse ("...a special one for you.") I'm really excited to be working on this beautiful song - hope I can get it "under my fingers" before Christmas...
I am curious to see/hear what works out. Have fun!!
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
The story behind "Merry Christmas, Darling" was featured on an iHeartRadio YouTube series:

Thanks much for posting this - i had read a little of the back story but didn't know all those details - found it especially interesting how Richard surprised Frank with the finished song...
 

Guitarmutt

Well-Known Member
Most key modulations go up. It's pretty rare to see one go down a key. I've seen a piece start in one key, modulate up, and then go back down to the original key.
Right!!!? So, fun. Why not? Curious what comes of it!!!
 

Walkinat9

Well-Known Member
I've had this 45 for over a year now (finally found it at Amoeba, while visiting L.A.), but today I played the B-side for the first time. Dropped the needle into the groove, went to the kitchen and heard it in the background. While in my head singing along to the "Swingle Singers part", I was a bit startled by the sudden silence... Was there something wrong with my record player? Did I miss something?? I hurried back and listened to the last bit and I was quite shocked to hear this early fade-out :shock: How could they ommit those luscious 3 chords in the word "(...stay the) Saaaaaame". Maybe it was some marketing trick to buy the album for the full version? I guess I'll never know. I think I'll pull out other 45s of them and see if there are any differences there as well (before jumping to the Resources part here) :phones:
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
It's such an absolutely wonderful song and this duet version is delightful - interesting how the harmonica, which was featured so prominently in several Carpenter hits, replaces the sax in the mid-song musical interlude...good seeing/hearing Billy Dean again too...
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I pulled this single out today, and it was the First Christmas song of the 2022 season I played (went in chronological order through the Carpenters Christmas singles). I wasn’t around in the 70’s, so having this as the only Christmas song for years must’ve annoyed people back then. Of course I guess some groups and singers never want to record a full Christmas album, so they just record one or two songs for a single or EP release, whereas others, like the Carpenters don’t get a chance until years later.

However listening to the 1970 version in 2022, it’s still got that really dated sound to it, which I think the 1992 remix managed to get rid of. Especially the piano. The piano sounds rather flat in the 70 and 78 mix. (Of course, I see over on richardandkarencarpenter.com that Richard said that in the early days he was using a Steinway A that had seen better days, and he really didn’t like the creakiness of the piano.

richardandkarencarpenter.com said:
“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 in ‘Merry Christmas Darling’, which starts with just Karen and piano. When the pedal was pushed the assembly which goes up into the piano (lyre) creaked.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I wasn’t around in the 70’s, so having this as the only Christmas song for years must’ve annoyed people back then.
Trust me - there was no annoyance, only delight that every year we'd get to hear this great record in the Christmas rotation of our favorite radio stations. And after just a few years, another was added to the Carpenters Christmas canon with "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town".

If there was any annoyance, it was after the CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT was released ands the "Santa Claus..." single was nowhere to be found.
 

1969

Member
Trust me - there was no annoyance, only delight that every year we'd get to hear this great record in the Christmas rotation of our favorite radio stations. And after just a few years, another was added to the Carpenters Christmas canon with "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town".

If there was any annoyance, it was after the CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT was released ands the "Santa Claus..." single was nowhere to be found.
Re: "Santa Claus..." - I liked the original sax solo on the single release though not the new one. Which one did radio stations prefer to play afterwards? New or old?
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Re: "Santa Claus..." - I liked the original sax solo on the single release though not the new one. Which one did radio stations prefer to play afterwards? New or old?
There was also the short version on the CP, which from what I recall whenever I heard a Carpenters version of Santa Claus on a radio in the 90’s and 2000’s and even in recent years, it’s been the fast CP version (from 1984-1996, the CP version was the only one available digitally on the Special Edition CD, since there was no CD of AOFC, (unless A&M made a special CD just for radio stations) so I would assume that as radio stations switched from analog to CD, the old 45’s and LP’s would’ve been discarded.). The first time I heard the ballad version was on a cassette of An Old-Fashioned Christmas that I bought on Boxing Day 1997.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
My recollection is that the single version of "Santa Claus" played on radio for maybe a year or two and then disappeared, while "Merry Christmas Darling" continued to be played every year. I don't recall hearing the revised "Santa Claus" on radio at all, but that's just from my own anecdotal evidence.

When CDs revolutionized radio station libraries, certain companies manufactured their own CDs that radio stations subscribed to in their format. Here's one that was used on-air at the station I worked at - it even has a Carpenters track, and a few other A&M's.GoldDisc113 (1).jpg
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Other Carpenters Christmas tracks I recall hearing on the radio in the 90’s were The Christmas Song & Sleigh Ride. And Global TV, during the end credits for the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, for quite a few years in the 90’s and early-2000’s played Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Of course all three of those songs were on the Christmas Portrait: Special Edition CD, so digitally they were easier to track down. Before 96, unless it appeared on some other compilation, the ballad Santa Claus Is Coming To Town only appeared in digital on the Time-Life CD in 1992. So, unless Polygram made the digital master available upon request to radio stations or syndicated shows, its digital availability was virtually nonexistent.
 
I saw this was already mentioned as a Forget Me Not earlier in the thread. I assume that is like a back to back hit series.

But Merry Christmas Darling was released as the B side of Christmas Song in 1977. I assume it is the B side, because Christmas Song is listed at the top on both sides of the sleeve for the 45. The catalogue number was AM 1991. The sleeve does not have a picture. It has Carpenters at the top, some clip art of Santa and the reindeers in red. the two song titles in the center and a "Don't miss the Carpenters' Christmas TV Special Friday, December 9th, 9-10 pm, ABC.

This is probably already known, but I didn't find it when I searched. I did find a list of the albums, but not the singles.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I saw this was already mentioned as a Forget Me Not earlier in the thread. I assume that is like a back to back hit series.

But Merry Christmas Darling was released as the B side of Christmas Song in 1977. I assume it is the B side, because Christmas Song is listed at the top on both sides of the sleeve for the 45. The catalogue number was AM 1991. The sleeve does not have a picture. It has Carpenters at the top, some clip art of Santa and the reindeers in red. the two song titles in the center and a "Don't miss the Carpenters' Christmas TV Special Friday, December 9th, 9-10 pm, ABC.

This is probably already known, but I didn't find it when I searched. I did find a list of the albums, but not the singles.
Merry Christmas Darling was also the B side for Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Then in 1996 it was the B side to the Japanese Ave Maria 3-inch CD mini single.
 

Greg

Well-Known Member
Today was my first day of 2022 re-watching the Christmas specials and performances. Infact, I have edited together a spliced video version of the 2 tv specials (without the dialogue and skits) along with the Como, Dorothy Hamill and Bruce Forsyth highlights. I cant lie, it's a pretty glorious hour of festive TV splendour.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Today was my first day of 2022 re-watching the Christmas specials and performances. Infact, I have edited together a spliced video version of the 2 tv specials (without the dialogue and skits) along with the Como, Dorothy Hamill and Bruce Forsyth highlights. I cant lie, it's a pretty glorious hour of festive TV splendour.
Sounds like a perfect track listing!
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Hmmm I crawled through this thread and did not see my avatar anywhere....sure thought I'd commented on this choice. Obviously not...

So, much belated, I would go with Merry Christmas Darling as it is one of my absolute favorite Christmas songs (not just Carpenters, but Christmas songs PERIOD).

I do, however, like Mr. Guder - just no comparison in a (somewhat odd) contest with MCD.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Two easy ways to see if you replied to a thread. First is to scroll to the bottom of the page. It lists both "Who read" and "Who replied".

Second way is to do a search. Click in the Search box which opens the Search dialog. In the "By" field, type your user ID (handle). Then select "This Thread" in the box that defaults to "Everywhere". That will bring up a page with links to all of your replies to the thread.
 
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