• 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.

šŸŽ¤ Interview The "Third" Carpenter: A Conversation with John Bettis, Part 2

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Chris May

Resident ā€˜Carpenterologistā€™
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A lot of great discussion here on the forum and I'm so thankful that I was able to land the interview with John. Just so folks here are aware, Richard was the one who put us in touch, which is the reason (I believe) that John was such a sport in opening up about as much as he did. I mean let's face it - what initially was intended to be 20-25 minutes turned into an hour and a half! Considering John is not someone I'd already been friends with, I think I speak for all of us here at A&M Corner - Thank you to John AND Richard for the wonderful opportunity and insight!
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
And, even judging by the chart standing of:
"If I Had You" (Late 1989 release)
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary # 18

Surely, a promotional blitz and proper marketing could have gotten the above song,
as a single in 1980, a much better showing on the charts.
Or, that song conjoining a 'B' Side featuring another solo selection.
Sadly , a missed opportunity.
 

Chris Mills

That was funny....like the dark vomited up
This, indeed, was an insightful interview.
I enjoyed it greatly, and have the utmost respect for John Bettis.
He did mention the overwhelming concentration of melancholy in the Little Girl Blue Biography.
(Never mind that many 'insiders' declined to get involved or offer biographical support).
True enough, no one who did not know Karen personally, would ever come away with the impression
other than that her over-all life was a sad, if not, tragic one.
Most fans, though, are well aware of her keen intelligence, her sense of humor, her adventurousness and playfulness,
her love of children, her love of drumming.
That being said, the public-at-large is not as well-informed.
Newspapers at the time were wont to show the side-by-side photos, the before and after pictures, of the ravages
of her disease.
The extant news publications (at that time) did not concentrate on Karen being The Voice of a generation.
Thus, if one only recalls only the bad album covers, the awful television skits, the pop- fluff ( i.e., Sing),
rotten record reviews, goody-four-shoes image, and , then,
ultimately the stigma of that disease,
How on earth could an accurate, well rounded portrayal of Karen Carpenter ever see the light of day?
(never mind, even, the CBS Movie of the week...that's another 'story').

Karen totally confused the musical press of the '70's, and Karen didn't help things by being so incredibly talented, the press were out to get her, no one could be that perfect, could they?
 

Chris Mills

That was funny....like the dark vomited up
The real vile side of the music press, had their way in the end, they did eventually silence a truly golden talent, no one could have taken that amount of criticism and not be affected by it, so much negativity by the majority of critics would have played an enormous part in Karen's lack of self esteem, luckily she was a fighter, and I admire her for that.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Maybe Karen Itchy Ramone?

That would be a fascinating interview discussing the making of Karen's solo album, since we have Phil already discussing so many aspects of the album as producer in so many video interviews, it would be interesting to hear Itchy's view into the making of her album and what it meant. I would bet it might be too personal for her to speak about but a phone interview could be possible. There are many questions that could be asked to easily fill a 30/45 min interview just relating to the solo album. We know Karen gave Itchy a signed copy of what appeared to be a LP cover.

It's too bad that Chris May could not have interviewed Phil before he passed away, with Chris at the helm it would have been a fantastic insightful interview indeed.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
Great interview, as always, Chris!
Two things stand out to me, and I'm glad they were said. First, the solo album being like a subdivision build next to a Frank Lloyd Wright home. Spot on. Solo album was not up to the standards one expects from someone of Karen's talent and caliber. I feel vindicated on this point. Check and MATE! Makes perfect sense for it being shelved.

Second, great question about Richard always being cast as a villian. It's such a simple and stupid argument people seem to make and can't be further from the truth. I'm more convinced now that if Karen came back with a stellar solo LP that reflected the talent and DIGNITY of who she was, I'm sure Richard would have been totally behind it and her and insisted on its release.

John is a class act.
 

Jamesj75

Well-Known Member
With all due respect to those unimpressed with Karen's solo album, one man's opinion does not offer vindication to one side or the other. I, too, am highly impressed with Mr. Bettis (in large part thanks to this great interview by Mr. May) and his contributions to the success of the C's.

We should remember that, even though he claims to have this connection with Karen, he was Richard's friend initially---they were the peers---Karen was Rich's little sister who later got involved with their musical endeavours. I suspect Bettis' allegiance will always be with Richard. His opinion is certainly valid and it may be the latest word, but it's not the final proclamation on whether or not Karen's solo album was release-worthy. It's just another piece of the puzzle that we as zealous, intrigued, and bewildered fans continue to digest.

All these years later, I continue to feel annoyance, disappointment, and sadness that Karen's solo album was shelved upon completion. She certainly thought it was great! A well-documented opinion. I, for one, am thrilled to have had the belated opportunity to enjoy her great efforts...
 

arthowson

Well-Known Member
With all due respect to those unimpressed with Karen's solo album, one man's opinion does not offer vindication to one side or the other. I, too, am highly impressed with Mr. Bettis (in large part thanks to this great interview by Mr. May) and his contributions to the success of the C's.

We should remember that, even though he claims to have this connection with Karen, he was Richard's friend initially---they were the peers---Karen was Rich's little sister who later got involved with their musical endeavours. I suspect Bettis' allegiance will always be with Richard. His opinion is certainly valid and it may be the latest word, but it's not the final proclamation on whether or not Karen's solo album was release-worthy. It's just another piece of the puzzle that we as zealous, intrigued, and bewildered fans continue to digest.

All these years later, I continue to feel annoyance, disappointment, and sadness that Karen's solo album was shelved upon completion. She certainly thought it was great! A well-documented opinion. I, for one, am thrilled to have had the belated opportunity to enjoy her great efforts...
what song on the solo album comes close to the caliber of Superstar or Rainy Days and Mondays?
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
what song on the solo album comes close to the caliber of Superstar or Rainy Days and Mondays?

I think it's fair to say that there's no 'Superstar' or 'Rainy Days and Mondays' on the solo album. But that's not to say that there weren't songs on there that are perfectly enjoyable and commercial enough to have stood a chance in the market in 1980.

And (the point that people who are down on the solo album often seem to overlook) I think it's also fair to say that there's no 'Superstar' or 'Rainy Days and Mondays' on A Kind of Hush, Passage, Made in America and (I'd going to be controversial here) Horizon either. The only post-1974 song I'd put up on the same high level as those early classic singles is 'Ordinary Fool', which wasn't considered for release in Karen's lifetime.

I'd say John has every right to have and give his opinion on the solo album, but as JamesJ75, it's just another point to add to the mix, not a final judgement that's any more or less valid than any of the others we've heard over the years.
 

FreddieB

Member
what song on the solo album comes close to the caliber of Superstar or Rainy Days and Mondays?

Which songs on 'Hush', 'Passage' or 'MIA' do???????????????????????? I rest my case. 'I Need to be in Love' is 'on par' with their older hits I guess.

I like the album a lot. I was about 15-16 during this time and I would have bought it. I think it would have really appealed to the Adult Contemporary crowd. It is without a doubt better than any album by Barbra Streisand or anyone else obnoxious like that.




Freddie
 

FreddieB

Member
My puter kept losing the Wi-Fi so sorry my post came out wrong.

I was trying to say that I think her album would've been good for the whole Carpenter crew (including John) if it has been released in 1980. I remember getting excited when I saw a news article in Rolling Stone magazine about it. That picture of Karen with the headphones and comic book shirt still makes me sad as that is the photo RS magazine used. It hurts our feelings to say that we wouldn't have liked it. A&M put out other unsuccessful albums at time, but the Karen album would have at least went gold, if not done better.

It didn't occur to me until this morning that John, Richard, Herb..etc... had no way of knowing what the fans were thinking at the time. I don't blame them, but I do think they underestimated our musical taste and intelligence. It almost seems like many close to Richard and Karen thought the fan base were all middle age folks...lol that is so off the mark.

I guess the 'Easy Listening' BS jibe was wrong, but I feel that Karen was more in line with Olivia or Linda Ronstadt in that she had a great tone and never sang in a off-pitch brassy manner like some of the female vocalists she is generally compared to.

It is nice to see that John is doing well. Bless him.


Freddie
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Listening to the Original Master Karaoke Mixes, just the arrangements with no lead,
there is a huge difference between We've Only Just Begun and I Need To Be In Love.
As beautiful a song as the Bettis-Carpenter tune is, the arrangement style lacks the
oomph embodied in many of the earlier Carpenters' Classics.
(Or, even, if you will, compare the Goodbye To Love arrangement to I Need To Be In Love on that Karaoke CD).
Many of the earlier Carpenters' elements are lacking in the later tunes.
On that same plateau, comparing the arrangements of
For All We Know to Leave Yesterday Behind (again, same writers of each song).
And, as an even more blatant comparison: We've Only Just Begun to Rainbow Connection.
From 1970 to 1980, Richard's arrangements changed dramatically.
1970,
Carpenters win that Years' Trendsetters Award: those same trendsetting qualities
were absent in many later arrangements.
 

Someday

Well-Known Member
Thank you, Chris, for this wonderful opportunity. For me, the most touching part of the interview is when John mentions that he has several almost-completed songs locked away in a drawer, knowing that the only person to sing them is no longer here. That moved me to tears.
 

Guitarmutt

Well-Known Member
Thank you, Chris, for this wonderful opportunity. For me, the most touching part of the interview is when John mentions that he has several almost-completed songs locked away in a drawer, knowing that the only person to sing them is no longer here. That moved me to tears.
That 1982 Christmas song! So curious.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
That 1982 Christmas song! So curious.

Careful there. I've read a couple of posts that seem to have inferred that the "buried in the tragedy pile" song that John and Richard were working on was a Christmas song. I don't interpret what he said as that at all - it was just a generic song, that they were working on and going to play around Christmas 1982. Listen again to the interview.

Harry
 

Guitarmutt

Well-Known Member
Careful there. I've read a couple of posts that seem to have inferred that the "buried in the tragedy pile" song that John and Richard were working on was a Christmas song. I don't interpret what he said as that at all - it was just a generic song, that they were working on and going to play around Christmas 1982. Listen again to the interview.

Harry
Sorry, that was worded awkwardly. I did not intend to imply I thought it was a Christmas song. I realize it was just a song they were working on at Christmas. I guess I was just trying to be succinct.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
An interesting mention, by John Bettis, on the lost art of The Medley.
Richard Carpenter certainly was an expert at putting medley's together, no doubt.
Over-all, I enjoy most of the medleys.
However, I much preferred the earlier Carpenters' Concerts when the hits were performed in their entirety.
This is an issue, again, where I am torn: On the one hand, the medley's are brilliant accomplishments,
but on the other hand I wanted the 'hits' to be performed as complete songs.
Regardless, the brilliance of Richard's Medley's can not be denied.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
People Magazine, October 1987, has a 'Sequel' article, where Richard Carpenter is profiled. (Subjects: solo LP and new fatherhood)
He says that he and John Bettis had written a song for Karen, and it was to be presented to her at the 1982 Christmas
Party at the Carpenter home, in Downey.
Richard: It was raining like 'pitchforks' that night, so Karen was unable to attend this Christmas Party.
The chance never came up again for Karen to hear this song.
The song Richard refers to is "In Love Alone".
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
People Magazine, October 1987, has a 'Sequel' article, where Richard Carpenter is profiled. (Subjects: solo LP and new fatherhood)
He says that he and John Bettis had written a song for Karen, and it was to be presented to her at the 1982 Christmas
Party at the Carpenter home, in Downey.
Richard: It was raining like 'pitchforks' that night, so Karen was unable to attend this Christmas Party.
The chance never came up again for Karen to hear this song.
The song Richard refers to is "In Love Alone".

If I'm not mistaken, John Bettis mentioned they'd written a song for Karen around Christmas 1982 and when Chris Mills asked if it was 'In Love Alone', John confirmed it wasn't this but another song, the title of which he couldn't recall.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Stephen, for the clarification.
Thus, I wonder, then what this other title might be?
John remembers the #38, but not this title?
Well, time does wreak havoc on the memory!
(At least, it does with mine!).
 

Chris Mills

That was funny....like the dark vomited up
If I'm not mistaken, John Bettis mentioned they'd written a song for Karen around Christmas 1982 and when Chris Mills asked if it was 'In Love Alone', John confirmed it wasn't this but another song, the title of which he couldn't recall.
Wish it had been me asking the question, but no, it was Chris May.
 
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