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Small parts of Carpenters songs that hook you

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
The ones I posted are written into the song that way - or they could be written into an arrangement. And there could certainly be times when a singer does it as a point of emphasis or interpretation of a song. Check out "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town." In the standard way of performing the song, it's rather bland with the "You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why" phrase all sung the same way.

But Carpenters and their jazzy arrangement change it up with some triplets. "You better watch out, you bet-ter not cry, you better not pout, I'm tel-ling you why." Brilliant - and that arrangement is full of those moments all throughout the song.

Now did Richard arrange it that way or did Karen interpret it that way? I suspect it was either all Richard or a collaborative effort.

Harry
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
So glad, Harry, you mention the song, "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town".
It remains an all-time favorite , the entire song, as vocalized and arranged,
is a masterpiece.
As it was tracked in 1972, completed in 1974, I wonder if Richard Carpenter
thought all that much about it (i.e., as much as I seem to think about it) ?
I would love to ask him about the song.
From the Official Carpenter Site:
"Karen and Richard recorded the basic track and the lead vocal in 1972,
and added brass, strings, the sax solo and background vocals two years later.
They sang the song on a Perry Como Christmas special aired on Dec. 18, 1974
."
 

Tapdancer

Well-Known Member
So glad, Harry, you mention the song, "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town"....The entire song...is a masterpiece.
A masterpiece it is. Three things which make it a standout for me:

(i) This one song probably encapsulates the essence of the Carpenters' art more than any other song in their repertoire. It's got it all - the jazz influence, the harmonies, the striking arrangement, the production, the orchestration - all signature Carpenters. On top of that we have the privilege of hearing Karen's vocal, in every respect, at its stunning best.

(ii) Karen's sensual treatment has changed the meaning of this Classic, in the sense that the kids aren't necessarily the only ones in the household who'll be getting "presents" at Christmas!

(iii) Any excellent artist can do their own wonderful rendition of a Christmas song, taking it to great heights. But how many could do what Richard - totally unexpectedly - does, at the end of the first verse:

Santa Clauuu-ause,
Is co-o-o-ominnng to toww-oww-own...


and get away with it? He re-writes the damn thing, refusing to resolve at the cadence, by modulating into a different key. This is a huge risk, messing around in this manner with a classic. But he's pulled a musical rabbit out of the hat, because he improves on the original.

And even more remarkably, he does so with a harmony that is "pure Carpenters". The double play!

Yes, Mr. C. :bowdown2: Salaam.
 

theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
A masterpiece it is. Three things which make it a standout for me:

(i) This one song probably encapsulates the essence of the Carpenters' art more than any other song in their repertoire. It's got it all - the jazz influence, the harmonies, the striking arrangement, the production, the orchestration - all signature Carpenters. On top of that we have the privilege of hearing Karen's vocal, in every respect, at its stunning best.

(ii) Karen's sensual treatment has changed the meaning of this Classic, in the sense that the kids aren't necessarily the only ones in the household who'll be getting "presents" at Christmas!

(iii) Any excellent artist can do their own wonderful rendition of a Christmas song, taking it to great heights. But how many could do what Richard - totally unexpectedly - does, at the end of the first verse:

Santa Clauuu-ause,
Is co-o-o-ominnng to toww-oww-own...


and get away with it? He re-writes the damn thing, refusing to resolve at the cadence, by modulating into a different key. This is a huge risk, messing around in this manner with a classic. But he's pulled a musical rabbit out of the hat, because he improves on the original.

And even more remarkably, he does so with a harmony that is "pure Carpenters". The double play!

Yes, Mr. C. :bowdown2: Salaam.

Your post especially has gotten me excited that Christmas is coming -- and so are Karen and Richard! :)
 

Jeremy

New Member
I have SO many of these - some of which have already been stated. This could get lengthy...

1. Invocation - the overlapped final line "...in a simple offering"
2. Your Wonderful Parade - final chorus, the line "you're sure to lose so try and choose a better way to fall." I love the way Karen starts the background vocals with an "ahh" and then matches up to Richard on "better way to fall." Also, Karen's superb drumming.
3. Someday - The very last belted "someday" with the harp sweep and orchestra swell - even though it's distorted, it's still magical.
4. All Of My Life - The last phrase - "you will be my own."
5. Turn Away - Karen's "wah, ba, ba, ba, ba, da" ad lib, and the next entire following verse.
6. Ticket to Ride - the last time Karen sings "The boy that's driving me mad is going away"
7. Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing - pretty much every time R&C sing the word "sing"
8. I'll Never Fall In Love Again - "Don't tell me what it's allllll a-BOOOOW-Wout!"
9. Rainy Days and Mondays - the entire final refrain of "Hanging around, Nothing to do but Frown, Rainy days and Mondays ALLLLLL -WAAAYYYYYS GEEEEEEEET me doooooooooOOoownnn"
10. Superstar - "play your sad guitar."
11. A Song For You - "I've made some bad rhymes" - that low note on "rhymes" gets me every time.
12. Hurting Each Other - I'm completely obsessed with her phrasing on "I could love only you."
13. Goodbye To Love - a) "I'll go on as best I can, b) Tony Peluso, c) The "ahh" chorus combined with the guitar solo at the end of the song.
14. Bless the Beasts and Children - the crescendo of the "ahh" background vocals going into the final chorus., and the following line of "light their way when the darkness surrounds them"
15. I Won't Last A Day Without You - "I can take all the madness the world has to give"
16. Road Ode - "THEY DON'T KNOOOOWWW!!!!"
17. The End of the World - the last line and how she goes down the scale on the word "goodbye"
18. Only Yesterday - a) the opening drums and the line "after long enough of being alone", b) the prophetic line "In my own time nobody knew the pain I was going through", c) in the full original album version, when Karen sings an ad-libbed "Only YES-terdaaaaay" in the background during the modulation toward the end.
19. Solitaire - The entire song. Perfect phrasing, perfect technique, perfect timbre, perfect altogether execution.
20. Calling Occupants - towards the end, "most extraordinary craft"/tympani roll/"ahh" background vocals/horn section coming in with orchestra - total eargasm.
21. Three words - Frosted Window Panes.
22. Merry Christmas Darling - the last time Karen sings "...to see you and to say THAT I wish you Christmas, Happy New Year tooooooo IIIIIIIIII've just one wish ON this Christmas Eve" and the "Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas, merry Christmas, dar-linnnnnnnng" that happens at the very end.
23. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - the final belted "hang your shining star above the highest BOUGH"
24. Ave Maria - again, the entire brilliant song.
25. Trying To Get The Feeling Again - I'm floored every time she sings the line "could you help me rediscover the way to re-be his love once again" and I, like most hardcore fans, LIVE for that page turn after the first chorus. The musical interlude with the guitar solo normally gives me chills.
26. I actually love everything about Richard's "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" intro. Everything. That 43 second track is the official start of the Christmas season for me.
27. I'll Be Yours - "you will say" - Karen backing herself up in that moment is magic.
28. You'll Love Me - "When Something's right, you can FEEL IT in your heart. Our love is right and I KNOW we'll never part"
29. Get Together (Your Navy Presents) - when Karen goes for the low notes in these lines "fear's the way we die" "you need not know why" "this will surely pass" "fading in the grass" "you will understand" "it's at your command"

I can elaborate more on the "why" of each if needed :laugh:
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
A Song For You - "I've made some bad rhymes" - that low note on "rhymes" gets me every time.

That song features the lowest note Karen sang on any of their recordings ("a friend of mine"). From the Fans Ask section of the official website:

Q: On Karen’s solo effort STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, Karen hits a low note at 1:50…is this her lowest note of all time because it sounds really, really low?

A: It's an overdubbed E flat below middle C, same as the opening note of "Only Yesterday". Lowest I had Karen sing was a low D in the song, "A Song For You".

http://www.richardandkarencarpenter.com/fans_ask_7.htm
 
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theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
I have SO many of these - some of which have already been stated. This could get lengthy...

9. Rainy Days and Mondays - the entire final refrain of "Hanging around, Nothing to do but Frown, Rainy days and Mondays ALLLLLL -WAAAYYYYYS GEEEEEEEET me doooooooooOOoownnn"
I don't know about you, but not only do I like this line, I really like the little drumming bit and cymbal crash that kick it off. Unfortunately, it seems like it's been removed from current remixes (but it's on the original album/single).
 
26. I actually love everything about Richard's "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" intro. Everything. That 43 second track is the official start of the Christmas season for me.

You must not be listening to the original 1978 version of Christmas Portrait where Richard officially starts my Christmas season every year with "O Come, O Come Immanuel".
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I actually love everything about Richard's "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" intro. Everything. That 43 second track is the official start of the Christmas season for me.

You must not be listening to the original 1978 version of Christmas Portrait where Richard officially starts my Christmas season every year with "O Come, O Come Immanuel".

To be honest, I prefer the second album's intro to the original a capella by Richard on Christmas Portrait, which is dull and uninspired. There are so many better ways in which they could have opened the album, in particular not using Richard's voice. The more joyous multi-tracked intro on An Old Fashioned Christmas which leads into "happy holidays!" is much more uplifting and always gets me in the holiday mood :)
 

Tony

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I had another of those OCD moments yesterday as I was driving two hours to a wedding. "Touch Me When You're Dancing" came on. It's not one of my favorite songs but I let it play. And then I was reminded how much I like the very end, when the song has already begun to fade out, and Karen (and presumably the Carpettes) sing the phrase "You know you've got that loving touch", but they mix it up and sing it higher than they've previously done. I love that part, especially the way they sound on the word "touch". It's the best part of the song for me. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I must've play that little three-second snippet 50-60 times during the drive. Seriously. It's just another example of little bits of their songs that absolutely fascinate me.
 
To be honest, I prefer the second album's intro to the original a capella by Richard on Christmas Portrait, which is dull and uninspired. There are so many better ways in which they could have opened the album, in particular not using Richard's voice. The more joyous multi-tracked intro on An Old Fashioned Christmas which leads into "happy holidays!" is much more uplifting and always gets me in the holiday mood :)

The albums are structured almost identically with an a cappella leading into an uplifting song "Deck The Halls"/"Happy Holidays" and continuing with the overture. So if one is dull and uninspired, the other is as well. But neither are. Richard's voice is beautiful. Both have exceptional intros. Both albums are at the top of my favorite Christmas albums of all-time.
 

Tony

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
What a fun and interesting thread this has turned out to be. Thanks Tony for starting it. It gets one to take notice of things that they may not have previously.

Harry
You're welcome Harry! I'm happy to know I'm not the only person out there who occasionally becomes a bit obsessed with small parts of the Carpenters' songs.

By the way, have you ever noticed how at the end of "Ticket to Ride", as they're singing "think I'm gonna be sad" several times, on the one before the song fades, around the 4:02 mark, Karen's voice stands out just a shade more at the top of that harmony when she sings "sa-had", to the point that it very nearly gives me chills. I've played that part countless times with the volume turned up to get the full effect. It's subtle, but to my ears very pleasing.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
[CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT discussion moved to the CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT thread - Mod]
 

Walkinat9

Well-Known Member
Musically, one little snippet that I absolutely love and which pops into my head at random moments is the very beginning of "Love Is Surrender." The opening drum beat and that keyboard line that is repeated twice right before Karen comes in with "talk about love..." I also love the trumpet line that plays under the line "you must surrender if you care."

You know, when you reverse the notes of that repeated keyboard line, you kind of end up with the intro of "Do you know the way to San Jose" :idea:
 

Walkinat9

Well-Known Member
Also in "Baby Its You" (1:09) when she sings "...They say you've NEVER, NEVER, NEVER been true,Oh! Oh! Oh!" The way she punches NEVER slays me!
Whenever I have that song in my head without actually playing the recording, I hear Karen adding many more "many"'s in the line "Many many nights go by...." in the beginning of the song :D
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
At the very end of
What Are You Doing New Years Eve,
Karen hold her note, on the lyric 'Eve' ,
for aproximately 10 seconds....spine-tingling....
when you 'hear' through the horrible choir hiding this note.
(The entire song is beautifully rendered....sans choir.)
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
At the end of Aurora, on the Horizon Vinyl,
when Karen sings , and holds, the last lyric...."....play...."
another chill-inducing moment.
 

Walkinat9

Well-Known Member
I like that dissonnant(?) chord that Richard hits a few times on the electric piano at the end of "Another song", just before an oboe or clarinet starts a domino-effect with a fast descending scale. Karen even hits the drums simultaneously with Richards mysterious chord hits there...

Richard hits a similar chord near the end of "Nowadays Clancy can't even sing". He hits is 12 times before playing a do-re-mi-fa-sol. And in that solo before the 12-times-chord hit, his fingers are just all over that keyboard , love it!!
 

carpenters96

New Member
Hi! Im a new member,iv been a massive carpenters fan since seeing a concert on bbc tv in 1996.my favourite music part of any carpenters song is from the "only yesterday" single from the words "since i threw my sadness away" to "i have found.."the sound of heaven.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Not Chris, but I think I can give a pointer to some triplets.

1 - "Let Me Be The One" - Right off the bat in the second measure, "...if you should..." is a triplet. It's three notes that fill up the space of two. The song is in 4/4 time, so a quarter note gets one beat. In this phrase, "Some sleepless night..., the word "night" starts the second measure of the song, and it's a half note. That means it gets two of the four beats in the measure, leaving just two beats left before the start of the next measure. Within those two beats, the song takes the space of those two beats and puts in three equal notes of slightly shorter duration.

2. - "Maybe It's You" - Again, right at the start, the first three "may-be it's" are all triplets: three eighth-notes that occupy the normal space of two. That song is full of triplets.

3. - "For All We Know" - In the opening phrase "Love------look at the", those last three words are a triplet. Later on, "I'll feel you" and "a-lone will" continue the use of triplets in this song.

4. - We've Only Just Begun" - "white lace and"

Harry

Harry nailed it! Get the idea?!
 

motownboy

Well-Known Member
For starters.....

I love how Karen sings the word "Now" in the song "Now."
I love the chorus of "Happy" and the synthesizers at the end.
I love the way Karen sounds on "When It's Gone" and that the song has basically no or very, very faint backing vocals.
Karen's harmonies on "One Fine Day." I wish they had recorded a full version of that song.
"Goodbye To Love"...my favorite of all Karen & Richard's recordings
 

BarryT60

Well-Known Member
On a flight back from Chicago Friday afternoon and ran across 'Another Song' on my iTunes music...

Maybe 5 times, I had to re-play the line: "And though, I'm buried in, a sad song of the morning wind" Such a pretty melody line... and Karen's delivery, as usual, gives us that pristine longing she captures so very well...

Couldn't wait to get on here and pull up this thread to report my re-play episode... :)
 
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