On the 'tube

Karen Killin’ It

27

I remember a late night curled up around the radio hearing Karen’s voice coming thru the the tiny speaker - it was Superstar, I think. It was one of the prettiest things I ever heard.

– fieldhdj

Yep, Doug... Similar experiences here. And Superstar is one of my top 3 Carpenters tunes to this day.

28

I have been trying, off and on, for 6 months to chart out the vocals for the last 4 bars of 'Merry Christmas Darling'. I thought I had a pretty good ear until this recent little test. Richard did the vocal arrangement. It's a multi-layer (9 part?) weaving, sibling-blended, over-compressed, 4 bars (16 seconds) of absolute sonic bliss (and charting nightmare). Any brave soul care to give it a try? I have heard a few close versions on YouTube, but no one that I have seen has nailed it.

They were both gifted.

– beatbyrd

BB- Okay, the final chord (all those voices) looks to be a G maj7 add 9 with a couple of accidentals tossed in.

Richard so loaded his tracks down with overdubs and overdubs of overdubs that tracking down one single voice line is not easy (and btw- I found a detailed chart. Just like the commercial sheet, It has nothing at all beyond "I wish I were with you". The chart simply ends. No help at all. My guess is that only Richard has the genuine, real arrangement, like Tim suggested)

Haven't quite nailed it yet, but I've set aside Tuesday evening to try and get it write..er, right.

29

Thanks Kevin. My ears hear the last 2 chords (the sustained, "Dar-Ling") as (from bottom up):
G, D, F#, A, D, F#, A, F#, A to G, B, D, F#, B, D, F#, D, F#.
These chords are voiced over a bit more than 3 octaves, with the bottom 4 notes of each being sung by Richard and the upper 5 by Karen.

It's all of the interweaving cascade that comes before that I'm having trouble hearing.

31

Very much so. That helps put me closer than I thought I would get. Much appreciated!

32

i wasn't particularly a fan in their heyday, largely because of the somewhat over-egged arrangements, but always thought Karen had a lovely voice.

33

Dianna and I got married in November of '71 when the Carpenters were getting to be very popular, we are and were both big fans of the Carpenters. "Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun" were both played at our wedding.

34

I have been trying, off and on, for 6 months to chart out the vocals for the last 4 bars of 'Merry Christmas Darling'. I thought I had a pretty good ear until this recent little test. Richard did the vocal arrangement. It's a multi-layer (9 part?) weaving, sibling-blended, over-compressed, 4 bars (16 seconds) of absolute sonic bliss (and charting nightmare). Any brave soul care to give it a try? I have heard a few close versions on YouTube, but no one that I have seen has nailed it.

They were both gifted.

– beatbyrd

If you contact any one of the myriad of top Barbershop arrangers they can write out the chart no problem at all.

The director in one of my choruses years ago used to compose arrangements on napkins at the bar we drank in after our meetings. When he had the song in his head he could write out a barbershop arrangement or a jazz version with more than 4 parts. There were a few of us who learned quickly and we could have it down in about an hour if it was a tight jazz chart or quicker if it were straight barbershop.

35

Thanks to all who offered suggestions. The definitive answer can probably only be provided by Richard and contacting him is an option. I have spent many more hours over the last few days (because of this thread) and think that I have figured out what I needed. At least, it's pretty close. I'll try scratch recording the ending vocal parts, just to be sure.

36

The Carpenters' music was cornball, saccharin, and everything I detested as a young devotee of fusion, jazz, psychedelia and musical boundary-pushing. It was astonishingly "white" and Not Funky. To me it was of a kind with Kate Smith or Mantovani, and trod dangerously close to Lawrence Welk, the King Family and Up With People.

And yet ... that voice. The ache and longing was palpable, the phrasing impeccable, and the warmth of Karen's vocal tone was like a cello or alto flute. I had to 'fess up on several occasions that Karen Carpenter was a Guilty Pleasure. Still is.

37

The Carpenters' music was cornball, saccharin, and everything I detested as a young devotee of fusion, jazz, psychedelia and musical boundary-pushing. It was astonishingly "white" and Not Funky. To me it was of a kind with Kate Smith or Mantovani, and trod dangerously close to Lawrence Welk, the King Family and Up With People.

All that - but the funny thing was I felt like they meant it. It wasn't an act for them. It felt "authentic" to me.

But even if it hadn't, you could never deny the voice, the expression, the phrasing.

38

They always sounded 'proper school of music' to me back then. I believe that they simply matched what they had (looks and sound) to their audience, especially with most of their MOR Top 40 efforts. Some of the album cuts show more depth. They have Karen's voice (Richard's?) distorted on the Klaatu song (around 2:45) to where it sounds a lot like Lennon's.

If all you've heard are greatest hits / Top 40 singles, here are a couple of 'whoa, is that THEM?' moments. The second one is as hip as most Manhattan Transfer tunes.

39

A lot of people don't get The Carpenters. Put on your musician ears and give a listen. Keren's timing/phrasing/delivery is totally amazing. It's no surprise that she was a great drummer.

40

The Carpenters' music was cornball, saccharin, and everything I detested as a young devotee of fusion, jazz, psychedelia and musical boundary-pushing. It was astonishingly "white" and Not Funky. To me it was of a kind with Kate Smith or Mantovani, and trod dangerously close to Lawrence Welk, the King Family and Up With People.

All that - but the funny thing was I felt like they meant it. It wasn't an act for them. It felt "authentic" to me.

But even if it hadn't, you could never deny the voice, the expression, the phrasing.

– Proteus

I remember a Rolling Stone article from the 70's that tongue-in-cheekedly matched up various popular bands of the day with the the substance of choice for the optimal listening experience. Besides the obvious ones (Bob Marley - ganja, Grateful Dead - LSD, etc.) were a few that cracked me up. The Mahavishnu Orchestra was recommended with snorting curry powder.

And for the Carpenters? Aspirin and Coca-Cola. And yes, their sincerity and authenticity were never in question. They clearly DID mean every note.


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