• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and 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 being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

Small parts of Carpenters songs that hook you

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
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... :)

I like the line just after that even better..."I know the day would bring/Another song for me to siiiing".

The key change on the word "sing" always gives me goosebumps!
 

Tony

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
"Another Song" has always been one of those songs I obsess over. I usually get hooked on the last vocal line, "The warmth of you had gone" and those massive harmonies.

My latest obsession has been "Those Good Old Dreams". In particular, the line "All my life I dreamed of you", and then the finger snap at the end. I must've played the finger snap part 5o times this week. The thing is that I will often go weeks or months without playing a Carpenters song, and then when I do I seem to focus on such things. "Those Good Old Dreams" was never a big favorite of mine, but for whatever reason I like little parts of it.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
"Another Song" has always been one of those songs I obsess over. I usually get hooked on the last vocal line, "The warmth of you had gone" and those massive harmonies.

As a Carpenters song it's very underrated but such an oddity, which is why I think it's never made it to any mainstream compilations. It brings to mind words like baroque, chamber music, church choir. It's spooky but at the same time exhilarating to listen to. The remix is one of those examples where a very subtle tinker breathe new life into the song.
 

BarryT60

Well-Known Member
"Another Song" has always been one of those songs I obsess over. I usually get hooked on the last vocal line, "The warmth of you had gone" and those massive harmonies.

My latest obsession has been "Those Good Old Dreams". In particular, the line "All my life I dreamed of you", and then the finger snap at the end. I must've played the finger snap part 5o times this week. The thing is that I will often go weeks or months without playing a Carpenters song, and then when I do I seem to focus on such things. "Those Good Old Dreams" was never a big favorite of mine, but for whatever reason I like little parts of it.
......All my life I've dreamed of you... (I dreamed of you )- its a new day for those good old dreams.... and it's all because of you... snap
That harmony line with Karen and Richard repeating "I dreamed of you" is a goose-bump moment for me... I love it as well!
 

Charlie D

Active Member
The vocals for Music Music Music were recorded in March 1980...just weeks after the solo album sessions had finished with the recording of the track Lovelines and two months before the solo LP had even been officially cancelled.

From the official website, regarding the Karen/Ella Medley:

"On Sunday, March 2, 1980, her 30th birthday, Karen recorded her selections in Studio D, A&M Studios. They might as well have been live as she got them all in one take. Since Karen and I co-owned the ABC specials, we hired a remote recording service to record Ella at the ABC television studios at Prospect Avenue, where we were videotaping. I can only say the effort was more than worth it."

The sessions for MIA got underway around April 1980, because Karen met Tom Burris that month and Richard is on record as saying "we'd just gotten started on that [Made In America] when she meets this fellow...Tom Burris"

I know and deeply understand that they were studio artists, but it would have been nice to hear her sing live with Ella. I wonder, was she nervous? Ella sounded great but was past her vocal peak, and as much as they were studio musicians Karen still sounded amazing live. But if I had a voice like that and those arrangements surrounding it I would be a perfectionist too.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I know and deeply understand that they were studio artists, but it would have been nice to hear her sing live with Ella. I wonder, was she nervous? Ella sounded great but was past her vocal peak, and as much as they were studio musicians Karen still sounded amazing live. But if I had a voice like that and those arrangements surrounding it I would be a perfectionist too.

With the exception of This Masquerade, all of the songs in the Karen/Ella Medley were as Karen recorded them in 1980. The only difference, had she sung the medley live, is that This Masquerade would have sounded different. It would be a bit like comparing the 1973 version of Sing with the 1980 medley version (same goes for Someday and A Song For You from the TV special); her voice (or at least her recording style) was a lot softer (weaker?!) by 1980.
 

cam89

Well-Known Member
What a great topic!

I love how she says the word GONE in the beginning of Trying To Get That Feeling Again.....I still remember the first time I heard this in 1995. I was living in the Metis Settlement of Rock Ridge, Manitoba. We had just gone to Dauphin, and I believe I bought from a small record store there, on cassette. I couldn't wait to get it home so I could listen to it. I was mesmorized by her interpretation. She really plays so effectively on certain words on this song....and creates a beautiful intimate mood.

I also love the Every Sha La La Las in Yesterday Once More. I had remembered this song from when I was younger in the 1970s. Here in Winnipeg, we heard this song and Karen's vocal's the Every Sha La La La part....and that's what sticks to me....it was used in a Cliffords coat commercial...I always wonder if they had obtained permission to use it....
 

Charlie D

Active Member
With the exception of This Masquerade, all of the songs in the Karen/Ella Medley were as Karen recorded them in 1980. The only difference, had she sung the medley live, is that This Masquerade would have sounded different. It would be a bit like comparing the 1973 version of Sing with the 1980 medley version (same goes for Someday and A Song For You from the TV special); her voice (or at least her recording style) was a lot softer (weaker?!) by 1980.

You're right, I didn't think about that. And yeah, the debate over whether or not she made a conscious change to the sound of her voice in those last few years still goes on. It's very interesting. A friend of mine who has musically trained ears has said that starting at least around the solo album recordings in 1979, he detected something - her range didn't thin out but her tone did. I really don't know if this is a fact or not even though I trust my friend's ears.

Even if that's technically true she still delivered performances from 79-82 that are wholly satisfying to my own ears.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
A friend of mine who has musically trained ears has said that starting at least around the solo album recordings in 1979, he detected something - her range didn't thin out but her tone did. I really don't know if this is a fact or not even though I trust my friend's ears.

That change was even more noticeable by the time she recorded Now in 1982. The timbre of her voice had totally changed. The rich vocal presence that we heard in Rainy Days and Superstar was gone, at least according to my ears. Her range hadn't changed, but the richness was certainly depleted and her voice was definitely thinner in its sound.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Despite it's thinness and almost indescribable change its still rather nice sounding. I know some can't quite get into the later stuff in the same way as that big early 70's voice. I don't mind it though. Just another way of expression and reaching new emotional heights to me.

I think the moment I found the change rather alarming was when I stumbled upon probably the only "live" vocal of Karen singing in '81 which was "Top of the world". She was gasping and quieter than ever before which I had never heard from her before. Clearly not the same and something tells me her health had a bigger part to play (physically and state of mind) in this change even though that connection is denied by people who worked with her.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
The manner in which the song "End of The World" ends,
where Karen's vocal slides from one note to another-- in the same word "Goodbye"--
is always awesome to listen to; she does the same at the end of "When He Smiles" in one of the
early live recordings (Australia?).
Any other recordings in which she performs those same type of vocal acrobatics?
 

Charlie D

Active Member
That change was even more noticeable by the time she recorded Now in 1982. The timbre of her voice had totally changed. The rich vocal presence that we heard in Rainy Days and Superstar was gone, at least according to my ears. Her range hadn't changed, but the richness was certainly depleted and her voice was definitely thinner in its sound.

I totally agree. That rich, powerful presence on those tracks and up until about 1975 was simply astonishing and resonated like nothing else. The warm, textured depth of her timbre during those early years is indeed inconsistent in later years, and by Now had taken that dramatic step down. I don't know why Richard claims that nothing at all had changed, he more than anyone should be able to detect it. Chris May also pointed out that her performance on Now lacked the warmth that other work leads had, and it's sad thinking that her innate vocal warmth was being drained from her soul.

I know that she did make a conscious effort to soften her delivery and of course she still sounded amazing. Her more measured approach may have lacked the immediate power of the early years (in my mind nothing tops her sound from 1969-75) but even if I generally like that era better she delivered some of her best, emotionally powerful performances ever in the second half of her career. But when you compare the rich, nuanced timbre of the Christmas sessions to songs like Now it's hard not to sad.
 

KACE

Member
The entire Make it Easy on Yourself from MMM I will and do play over and over. I remember so vividly when I first heard this, I kinda gasped and teared (spelling??) up. Moved me beyond words.

Superstar's intro just sends me somewhere other-worldly. And the end of Ave Maria, when Karen's vocal descends to the low note "amen" is simply mesmerizing.
 

Tony

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I've been listening to Christmas Portrait this week and it's been fun rediscovering it after a year away from it. Yesterday I was completely taken with Karen's resonance on the word 'filled' in the first verse of "Christmas Waltz". I've played that snippet several times. It's just so rich.
 

lucky24

New Member
As a Carpenters song it's very underrated but such an oddity, which is why I think it's never made it to any mainstream compilations. It brings to mind words like baroque, chamber music, church choir. It's spooky but at the same time exhilarating to listen to. The remix is one of those examples where a very subtle tinker breathe new life into the song.
"Another Song" has always been one of those songs I obsess over. I usually get hooked on the last vocal line, "The warmth of you had gone" and those massive harmonies.

My latest obsession has been "Those Good Old Dreams". In particular, the lin
As a Carpenters song it's very underrated but such an oddity, which is why I think it's never made it to any mainstream compilations. It brings to mind words like baroque, chamber music, church choir. It's spooky but at the same time exhilarating to listen to. The remix is one of those examples where a very subtle tinker breathe new life into the song.


That is so true. I think for them to do that is remarkable. I haven't heard other artists - back then and now - do that as young as they were at the time. Very clever people.you listen to the harmonies after "gone" : every part is right on and you can hear the different parts with Karen at the top and Richard at the bottom. Richards planning and their execution is genius. Karens boyfriend at one time Mike Curb described their music perfectly I read somewhere. He said their music had an edge. That along with everything else they had to offer caught on. The classical and jazz background both had can be heard in their output. I think they are both unique and extremely talented. They put a lot of hard work in that paid off.
 

lucky24

New Member
For me it's very specifically the vocal harmony sound they created. There's certain moments when it really hits.
Breathtaking.

I bet you I'm probably weirder...

At one point I named these moments "Carpenter-gasms". O__o

At first during "Close to you" it would be past 2 min mark "so they sprinkled moon dust in your hair..."
It's the words "golden starlight". As the vocals come together on "gold". I would play that over and over.
I have no idea why. Just such a full sound I guess.

And "Maybe it's you". During the chorus I always loved "his only thought is love for me" particularly the moment they come together on the word "thought".

I used to repeat "keep them safe and warm" on "Bless the beasts" because it did sound so warm.

"Corn fed chords appeal to me"... believe me "Goofus" got it's repeats too during the beginning part with their close harmonies and especially that great "oooo" at the end.

The ending of "One love" and "Crystal lullaby". The harmonies are so good!

I used to play the sax solo of "Touch me when we're dancing" over and over because of the vocal overdubs in there. I liked the drums too. For sure this one I'd do over and over. One of my fav parts. When I heard the isolated vocals from the SACD album and I got to hear the "aaahs" louder I was amazed once more. It's so spot on. Or are they more "heeehs" rather than "aaaahs". Still I love it.

"Those good old dreams" chorus makes me nuts. Get the headphones on and I'm completely lost in there.
Good luck trying to find me. XD

"(Want you) Back in my life again" used to be one I'd play over and over too. When they jump in there with their sound during the chorus I'm amazed. After all these years. Super tight harmonies. It's studio perfection.

"Without a song" from "Interpretations" rocks my world too. The acapella breakdown in "Somebody's been lyin" is similar. I like that part too.

Parts of "Slow dance" like "Dance with meeeee" or the ending "Someone like you hooowhoaaaa". I'm melting.

Sometimes I like some of those vocals mixed in there so it's almost ambient and takes on a 'smokey' kind of quality. I can't really explain it obviously.

Oh, and the 1980 medley drives me nutty too. "Knowing when to leave" gets a repeat! The "day after days an each night after night". Then, when Karen sings "We've only just begun" ten years after it's initial release and she goes "and we'll smile" one more time... It makes me cry. "Smile" sounds particularly magical.

So, yea I will re-live these moments from time to time. You think it would wear off eventually, but nope.
I've been a solid listener for ten years. I'm still hooked.


Yes I also like part before end of Only Yesterday before the key change. Karen sings "..sadness away, only yesterday " Richard comes in with "Only Yesterday " followed by their 3? part harmony singing "Only Yesterday" (you can hear Karens high voice in the harmonies) leading into the chorus sung again but in a new key. Well arranged and recorded.
 

theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
I'm all over Offering/Ticket To Ride right now. I've got quite a few hooks!

"Clancy" -- "havin' it...sharin' it" by Richard first and then Karen.

"Eve" -- "wooooaahh woaaahh" after "just once I'd like to see her happy..."

"What's the Use" -- 1) Karen's "to be somebody's slave for a dime" followed by Richard's "I've a better life in mind". 2) "I've got plenty of mouuuntains I'm looking to climb, spendin' my time"
3)When Karen goes "bahhh bahh bahhh" on the trumpet parts.

From what I've concluded, Karen is a killer background singer.
 
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WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
^I agree with that backing vocalist assessment. She could manipulate her voice just a skew so you almost couldn't recognize her sometimes. Like in "Sandra Dee" of course. Actually I hate to admit but in a part in "Close to you" there's a little phrase where I didn't realize it was her for a while. Nearing the "whaaas" the higher pitched "just like me". Who else would it be though? Lol It's angelic... I didn't think she could get more like that, but she can apparently. I don't really want to say it, but you could liken it almost to a voice actor in some ways. It's always fascinating to listen to and how it can make you smile along with her. The range and different tones of her voice is amazing. I also think her ability to match her own leads really good too. As in "Sweet, sweet smile". Not that she really needed things doubled as much, but man she could get it just right and as rumoured in very few takes too.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Actually I hate to admit but in a part in "Close to you" there's a little phrase where I didn't realize it was her for a while. Nearing the "whaaas" the higher pitched "just like me". Who else would it be though?

That's one of the little instances in "(They Long To Be) Close To You" that, when I first heard it, added to the perception that Carpenters were indeed a larger group of singers. Karen, in that backing moment, sounds like the 'other girl' in the group. Remember that this record came out at a time when multiple females in a group were popular - we'd had the Mamas & the Papas, the 5th Dimension, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, etc., so envisioning this Carpenters group easily gave a picture more like what "Spectrum" had been.

Harry
 

20thcentury

New Member
Although there are countless examples and many of you are right on the mark, my all-time favorite is when in "Sometimes" Karen sings "...and I count the times I have forgotten to say Thank You, and just how much I love them". The phrasing is perfect. The vocals are rich, beautiful and heartfelt. I can keep repeating it over and over.

I love that song, I've heard a couple of other female singers performing this song, but Karen's vocal is just perfect.
 
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