A website detailing the recordings of Karen and Richard Carpenter

Page 7: The U.S. Singles

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These are the commercially-released U.S. 45 rpm singles. There have been literally hundreds of different singles released around the world, so I am sticking to only those singles released for sale in the U.S.

Looking for Love / I'll Be Yours (1966)
Magic Lamp 704
Although this early single is credited to Karen Carpenter, it is a true "Carpenters" record (they just hadn't become "Carpenters" yet). Both songs were written by Richard Carpenter (music and lyrics).

This single is extremely rare -- only 500 were made. The recording was done in Joe Osborn's garage studio, and it was issued on the Magic Lamp label, which was Joe Osborn's label.

And although copies of this single will often sell for thousands of dollars, the songs are easily obtained. They both appear on From the Top and The Essential Collection: 1965-1997.

Ticket to Ride / Your Wonderful Parade (1969)
A&M 1142
Karen and Richard's first single for A&M Records was released in 1969. It has several unique aspects to it, including the fact that both sides of the single are mono, which makes it the only Carpenters' single for A&M not in stereo.

"Ticket to Ride" is an edited version of the song, removing the first 12 measures from the album version and starting with the piano shortly before Karen's vocal comes in.

"Your Wonderful Parade" is even more unusual. Richard's spoken/shouted introduction is significantly shorter than the album version, and is a different take -- not just edited down.

These versions have never been issued on CD.

Top chart position: #54

(They Long to Be) Close to You / I Kept on Loving You (1970)
A&M 1183
After the poor charting of "Ticket to Ride," Karen and Richard needed a hit song in order to be kept on at A&M Records. That hit came with "(They Long to Be) Close to You," which shot to the top of the charts in 1970.

The single version of "(They Long to Be) Close to You" is a shortened version of the album track. The song was shortened simply by fading the song out earlier. (The album version actually has a fade in a similar place, but then fades back in for a few more repetitions of the chorus.)

"I Kept on Loving You" is also slightly different than the album version, since on the album its intro overlaps with the very end of "Mr. Guder." There is no overlap on the single.

Top chart position: #1 (4 weeks)

We've Only Just Begun / All of My Life (1970)
A&M 1217-S
Following the huge success of "(They Long to Be) Close to You," Karen and Richard scored another huge hit with "We've Only Just Begun." Apparently, they were successful enough to warrent a picture sleeve for the first time...

The single versions of both songs here match the album versions, so there is nothing different about these songs. Interestingly, the Offering album had already been re-titled Ticket to Ride by this point, because the song "All of My Life" is credited as being from the A&M album Ticket to Ride.

Top chart position: #2

Merry Christmas, Darling / Mr. Guder (1970)
A&M 1236-S
The end of 1970 brought the Carpenters' first holiday single, the classic "Merry Christmas, Darling." This song was intended to be just a single release, with no Christmas album in the works, and indeed, it did not appear on a Carpenters album until 1978, when a re-recorded version ended up on Christmas Portrait.

The original single version of "Merry Christmas, Darling," is different from the album version of the song, although the original single version of the song can be found on From the Top and The Essential Collection: 1965-1997.

"Mr. Guder" is also slightly different from its album version in that the song does not overlap with "I Kept On Loving You" at the end.

Incidentally, the original version of this single had the songs processed with the HAECO CSG system, which was used to prevent phase problems when broadcasting a stereo song on a mono AM radio station.

For All We Know / Don't Be Afraid (1971)
A&M 1243-S
At the beginning of 1971 the Carpenters were able to score another hit with the theme song to a movie called Lovers and Other Strangers. As this single preceded the Carpenters album, the b-side was taken from Ticket to Ride.

Both songs are the same as their album versions.

Top chart position: #3

Rainy Days and Mondays / Saturday (1971)
A&M 1260-S
The Carpenters' next single was "Rainy Days and Mondays." It was also a huge hit and became one of their signature songs.

Both songs on this single are the same as their album versions.

Top chart position: #2

Superstar / Bless the Beasts and Children (1971)
A&M 1289-S
This single is a rare example of a double-a-sided single -- both sides of the single received radio play. Of course, "Superstar" was a far bigger hit, but "Bless the Beasts and Children" charted as well. "Bless the Beasts" was the theme song from the movie of the same name, which is most likely why that song was being promoted at the time.

Both songs are the same as their album versions. ("Bless the Beasts" is the album version from A Song for You, not the movie soundtrack mix.)

Top chart position: #2 ("Superstar")
Top chart position: #67 ("Bless the Beasts and Children")

Hurting Each Other / Maybe It's You (1971)
A&M 1322-S
Released late in 1971, "Hurting Each Other" preceded A Song for You by nearly six months. The B-side, "Maybe It's You," is from the Close to You album.

Both songs are presented in their album mixes.

Top chart position: #2

It's Going to Take Some Time / Flat Baroque (1972)
A&M 1351-S
The next single from A Song for You was this Carole King song. It is a perfect fit for the Carpenters' "sound," and continued their string of hits in the top 20.

Both songs here are the album versions.

Top chart position: #12

Goodbye to Love / Crystal Lullaby (1972)
A&M 1367-S
"Goodbye to Love" shook up the world of "easy listening" fans by throwing in an extended electric guitar solo, causing some people to label this song as "hard rock." Nonetheless, it cracked the top 10 and became another of the Carpenters' signature songs.

"Goodbye to Love" is the original album version, but "Crystal Lullaby" differs very slightly from its album mix in that it fades out at the end, rather than cross-fading into "Road Ode" as on the album.

Top chart position: #7

Sing / Druscilla Penny (1973)
A&M 1413-S
The first single from their next album, Now and Then, was released at the beginning of 1973. "Sing" was written for the children's TV show Sesame Street, and was not generally liked by the critics. However, it was a bigger hit than their previous two singles, and sold over a million copies.

Both songs are the album versions.

Top chart position: #3

Yesterday Once More / Road Ode (1973)
A&M 1446-S
Playing into the "oldies" theme of side 2 of Now and Then, "Yesterday Once More" was another of the Carpenters' biggest hits.

The single version of "Yesterday Once More" is a slightly different mix from the original album version of the song; a guitar riff replaced the piano at the end of each chorus.

"Road Ode" is basically the original album mix modified -- it fades in at the beginning, where on the album version it cross-fades from "Crystal Lullabye," and it fades out at the end before the cross-fade into the "A Song For You" reprise.

Top chart position: #2

Top of the World / Heather (1973)
A&M 1468-S
"Top of the World" was released as a single following "Yesterday Once More," which might seem like an odd thing, since it was not from the current album (Now and Then). But it had seen success as a single by country singer Lynn Anderson, and the Carpenters' version had been released in Japan to great success, so Richard gave in to popular demand and released it.

Of course, Richard wasn't satisfied with releasing a song that he considered just a nice album track, so he had Karen re-record the lead vocal, and some other instruments were also re-recorded to punch up the song a bit. The result was the Carpenters' second #1 hit. "Top of the World" is different from the album version, with some newly recorded instrumental parts and a new lead vocal. This version is available on countless compilations, and was even the version included on the original CD release of A Song for You in the 1980s.

"Heather" is the original album version from Now and Then.

Top chart position: #1 (two weeks)

I Won't Last a Day Without You / One Love (1974)
A&M 1521-S
An unprecedented sixth charting single from A Song for You was their first single of 1974 -- nearly two years since the album's release. Even though it was recorded before 1973, it charted after the release of The Singles: 1969-1973 and was therefore not included on that album. Because Karen and Richard were not working on a new album at that point, A&M Records must have wanted another single from them, and Richard ended up going with this track rather than one from Now and Then.

"I Won't Last a Day Without You" was remixed for the single release, with some extra electric guitar parts added in places. "One Love" is the original album version.

Top chart position: #11

Please Mr. Postman / This Masquerade (1974)
A&M 1646-S
Late 1974 did not see the Carpenters doing much recording, but the single "Please Mr. Postman" was released and became their last #1 hit. It was a remake of the first Motown #1 single, sung by the Marvelettes.

The single mix of "Please Mr. Postman" differs from the album mix included on Horizon. The backing vocals are all mixed to the center on the single, rather than being separated in stereo as on the album version. For many years, this single mix was only available on one very rare CD, the UK version of Yesterday Once More from 1984. It has subsequently been released as part of the limited-edition sets The Japanese Single Box and The 40th Anniversary Box Set (on the Sweet Sixteen disc).

"This Masquerade" is the original album version.

Top chart position: #1 (one week)

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town / Merry Christmas, Darling (1974)
A&M 1648-S
Released the same day as "Please Mr. Postman," the Carpenters' second holiday single was their own unique take on the well-known "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town."

The backing track for this song was actually recorded in 1972, but the vocal and the sweetening were not done until 1974.

This version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" is different from the mix that ended up on An Old-Fashioned Christmas in 1984; the single has a different saxophone solo and the vocals have less reverb.

"Merry Christmas, Darling" is the original 1970 recording here.

This version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" has never been issued on CD, although that might change with the release of the Japanese singles box set sometime in mid-2006.

Only Yesterday / Happy (1975)
A&M 1677-S
The Carpenters' last top 10 hit was "Only Yesterday."

Both songs are the original album versions from Horizons.

Top chart position: #4

Solitaire / Love Me for What I Am (1975)
A&M 1721-S
A somewhat successful ballad followed the upbeat "Please Mr. Postman" and "Only Yesterday" singles.

The single mix of "Solitaire" is different from the album version, with some significant changes to where the electric guitars enter. The single version of the song can be found on the U.S. CD of Gold: The 35th Anniversary Edition.

"Love Me for What I Am" is the original album version.

Top chart position: #17

There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World) / (I'm Caught Between) Goodbye and I Love You (1976)
A&M 1800-S
Trying to recapture the hit potential of "Please Mr. Postman," the Carpenters remade another 1960s song. This was Karen and Richard's last top 20 single of the 1970s. It did well on the charts despite the fact that Richard later said they never should have recorded the song.

Both songs on the single are the original album versions.

Top chart position: #12

I Need to Be In Love / Sandy (1976)
A&M 1828-S
Most fans feel "I Need to Be In Love" is the real standout among the songs on A Kind of Hush. Despite that, this song didn't fare as well on the charts as its predecessor.

The single version of "I Need to Be In Love" has had the solo piano introduction removed, making the song shorter than the album version. "Sandy" is the original album version.

Top chart position: #25

Goofus / Boat to Sail (1976)
A&M 1859-S
The next choice for a single remains the strangest one in Carpenters history. "Goofus" is a song originally written in the 1920s, and it's really just a terrible song, not suited for Karen and Richard at all. Its chart position reflects that, as it was Karen and Richard's worst-charting single to date, coming in even lower than "Ticket to Ride" in 1969.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Top chart position: #56

All You Get from Love Is a Love Song / I Have You (1977)
A&M 1940-S
A new album with a new sound came along in 1977, and the first single from the album reflects the more sophisticated, contemporary sound of Passage.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Top chart position: #35

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day) / Can't Smile Without You (1977)
A&M 1978-S
Generally regarded as the strangest song ever recorded by Karen and Richard, "Calling Occupants" appears to have been an attemp to cash in on the "Star Wars" craze of 1977.

The single version of "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" is considerably shorter than the album version, having had most of the beginning of the song edited out.

The single version of "Can't Smile Without You" is actually a new recording of the song, with different lyrics in places. I've always wondered why they re-recorded a song that was just a B-side of a single, unless they had planned for it to be an A-side at one point, but decided not to release it later.

Top chart position: #32

The Christmas Song / Merry Christmas, Darling (1977)
A&M 1991-S
"The Christmas Song" was released to promote the Carpenters first Christmas special in 1977. The original picture sleeve even mentions the TV special (subsequent re-releases of the single omit that reference.)

The single version of "The Christmas Song" differs slightly from the album version, as the single has a clean start to it, whereas the album version has a segue from "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" leading into "The Christmas Song."

"Merry Christmas, Darling" is the original 1970 version on this single.

Sweet, Sweet Smile / I Have You (1978)
A&M 2008-S
1978 opened with an attempt to create a hit with this upbeat, country-tinged song. It didn't fare well on the Hot 100 chart, but it did manage to reach #8 on the Country chart.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Top chart position: #44

I Believe You / B'wana She No Home (1978)
A&M 2097-S
The Carpenters' last single of the 1970s was also their poorest-charting single to date. "I Believe You" was originally to be part of a 1978 album, but that album never materialized. It was finally released in 1981 on the album Made In America.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Top chart position: #68

Touch Me When We're Dancing / Because We Are In Love (1981)
A&M 2344-S
The Carpenters' first single of the '80s also turned out to be their last top 20 hit.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Top chart position: #16

(Want You) Back In My Life Again / Somebody's Been Lyin' (1981)
A&M 2370-S
The Carpenters followed up with a more contemporary-sounding pop song, but the public didn't go for it. The B-side of this single is actually a much better song, but it wasn't radio material, so it wouldn't have worked as a single, either.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Top chart position: #72

Those Good Old Dreams / When It's Gone (It's Just Gone) (1981)
A&M 2386-S
"Those Good Old Dreams" is a much more Carpenter-esque song. Unfortunately, it did only slightly better on the charts than "(Want You) Back In My Life Again."

The original single version of "Those Good Old Dreams" is the same mix as the original album version, but all subsequent releases of the song on CD have been slightly remixed (to downplay the moog synthesizer at the end), so the single version is different than the versions on CD. "When It's Gone" is the original album version.

Top chart position: #63

Beechwood 4-5789 / Two Sides (1982)
A&M 2405-S
This was the last single released during Karen's lifetime, and, sadly, it was their poorest-charting single to date. It's another remake of a '60s song, and it just wasn't what the public wanted in 1982.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Top chart position: #74

Make Believe It's Your First Time / Look to Your Dreams (1983)
A&M 2585-S
Released several months after Karen's death, "Make Believe It's Your First Time" was the first single from Voice of the Heart. This version of the song was re-recorded by Karen and Richard during the Made In America sessions - it had originally been recorded by Karen alone for her solo album, but when that album was shelved, this new version was recorded.

This was the last Carpenters single to break the top 200 on the American charts.

The single version of "Make Believe It's Your First Time" is slightly different than the album version, as it omits the words spoken by Karen over the opening music ("Uh, I have to get into a serious mood here.")

The single version of "Look to Your Dreams" is also different from the album version. The single version omits the solo piano introduction.

Top chart position: #101

Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore / Sailing On the Tide (1984)
A&M 2620-S
This is yet another remake of a 1960s song, albeit an obscure one. It was originally recorded by Ruby and the Romantics (the same group that originally recorded "Hurting Each Other.") While the Carpenters' rendition of it is excellent, it failed to make the charts.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Little Altar Boy / Do You Hear What I Hear? (1984)
A&M 2700-S
This Christmas single from An Old-Fashioned Christmas appears to have been released only as a promotional single.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Honolulu City Lights / I Just Fall In Love Again (1987)
A&M 886677
This single appeared out of the blue in 1987, with no explanation as to where it came from. It wasn't associated with any album release in the U.S., although it did end up on Lovelines in 1989.

Both songs are the original album versions.

Something In Your Eyes / Time (1987)
A&M
This is not a "Carpenters" song - it was from Richard's first solo album, Time. Dusty Springfield provided the vocals for "Something In Your Eyes." This is truly a great song, and it's a shame it didn't do well on the charts (although it did make it to #12 on the adult contemporary chart).

Both songs are the original album versions.

If I Had You / The Uninvited Guest (1989)
A&M CD17926
"If I Had You" was a song recorded for Karen's solo album, but since that album was not released, Richard remixed it and decided to include it on Lovelines in 1989. This remix was released as a CD single, but only as a promotional item. To date, this single was the last "new" Carpenters song to be released to American radio.

Both songs are the original Lovelines versions.


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