The Carpenters “A Song For You”

A Song For You

There is always a time and place when this will be the perfect record to put on. Many could use a little Carpenters in their collection, and this hit-studded near-concept album is their best work. You have to let down your guard and forget what you know about this group; they sound a little slick, sure, but they perform good honest songs, aren’t afraid of a little humor, and that voice…

My god, Karen Carpenter slays them all. American Idol losers and winners alike have never approached this type of talent, and I always think of Karen, somehow, when comparing the wannabes. There is a flippancy in her wide range, a lazy accent or something, as she didn’t care, we’ll act formal later. Listening to her sing Leon Russell’s A Song For You, the opener on this record, has become a ritual; could anybody top this version?? I’ll take it any day, sax solo, over-the-top affected chorus and all.

The first five tracks on the record represent the stages of a love-gone-wrong relationship. You can tell just by the titles: 1. A Song For You, 2. Top Of The World, 3. Hurting Each Other, 4. It’s Going To Take Some Time, 5. Goodbye To Love. Wow, what a great set of tunes. It’s worth noting that Top Of The World went to #1 and is a great, fun song with smooth country stylings. You will most likely recognize a few of these gems from scattered radio play and other recordings.

After a goofball ‘Intermission’ we have Side B, featuring a less serious set but still top-quality stuff. Richard Carpenter gets to shine a bit on this side, with his instrumental Flat Baroque and lispy vocals on Piano Picker. Piano Picker is hilarious, I must say, an ode to Richard Carpenter’s dedication to “banging on the keys” in lieu of “playing with the football.” This is the kind of song you put on as a joke, though I can’t explain why I know all of the words.  If you want to try on some classic soft rock, this is the record for you.

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“A Song For You”

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5 Comments.

  • ib

    Whoa! Wholly unexpected, Brendan, but very nice indeed.

    My favourite Carpenters’ song has to Bacharach/David’s “Close to You” from 1970 ; Frank Sinatra does a very good take of it too on 1971’s “Sinatra & Company”, which works so well precisely because in character he is the complete antithesis to Karen’s coy innocence – “close to you…”, maybe, but you just know in Sinatra’s case it implies much more. A night of too many martinis and a jaded morning after.

    Burt Bacharach did some succinct psychoanalysing on Richard and Karen’s ultimately tragic symbiosis in a British documentary on the pair several years back. But who can argue with their purity of output ?

  • Willie Nelson’s version is pretty sweet too…. hhmmmm
    it’s a tough call, I might go with willie though

  • I love the Carpenters and sing , A Song for you pretty well HAVE MOST OF THE ALBUMS BUT AM AFTER All if my life ..the song if you have it i would like to buy it hope you can help..Cheers Lisa Budin

  • karen carpenters the best voice forever ( a song for you)

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