Carpenters: Better Than Chocolate, Really


KAREN AND RICHARD CARPENTER

When the world’s going as crazy as it is now – and to add an extra topping to our miseries, we can’t even escape what’s going around us – there’s just one thing to do. Find solace, and quick. The trick, then, is to locate that one bromide – it’s a world of fast-food and quick-fixes, after all – that’ll take our focus off of all the craziness and codswallop that’s swirling around us in a perpetual whirlpool of bits, bytes, corruption, and chest-thumping.

If your soother is chocolate, I’d recommend the 85% Lindt & Sprüngli bar – so head out, buy it, and then, if you can, swirl you choice of single malt, and take the occasional bite. Or, if you’re too lazy to gather these culinary accoutrements, sink into your favorite armchair and play Get Together. Originally written by Chet Powers, this relatively under-the-musical-radar number had quite a few covers, but the one I’m talking about is from the debut album of the Carpenters, Ticket to Ridethe title song, of course, the cover of that chart-charring number from that chart-burning band. Released in 1969, this album sank faster than you could say “Ticket.” And yet, when you play this album today, you wonder what the fuss wasn’t about. For, they really don’t produce such melodies and caressing sounds any more.

And in Get Together you find a number that’s absolutely haunting and caring; the lyrics so simple and unfussy, you might actually classify them as foolish, if not nugatory. But if there’s anything that gently propels the song into a territory of simple and understated joie de vivre, it is the brother-sister pair – Richard and Karen Carpenter’s – undeniably mesmerizing vocals and their orchestration. Produced by Jack Daugherty, Get Together (as a matter of fact, this debut album in general) has a lot more of Richard’s vocals than in their later albums. Welcome Richard then, as he glides a piano piece in the opening, and as you sit up in anticipation, his silky, sparkling vocals make you pause all other thoughts, the high on melody tune a layer of rich cocoa – Love is but the song we sing/ And fear’s the way we die/ You can make the mountains ring or hear the angels cry….

And as backup vocals, when Karen waltzes in her richly textured voice, her waltz disabuses you of any schmaltzy feelings the lyrics might evoke in you – not that it actually ought to: the sanest voices often seem the silliest. But there’s more to sigh, as the soft brass picks up, and the bass, drums, all get together to lend that route of silk to Richard. There’s also some lovely flutes in the third verse, and that simply makes you all smiley and weirdly happy. How, just how can you resist this gem? On second thoughts, forget that chocolate. This beauty is far better than any bite you’ll take. Really.

Love is but the song we sing/ And fear’s the way we die/

You can make the mountains ring or hear the angels cry

Though the dove is on the wing/ You need not know why

Come on people now/ Smile on your brother

Everybody get together/ Love one another right now

Some will come and some will go/ This will surely pass

When the one who left us here/ Returns for us at last

We are but a moment’s sunlight/ Fading in the grass

If you hear the song we sing / You will understand

You hold the key to love and fear/ It’s in your trembling hand

One key unlocks them both, you know/ It’s at your command

Come on people now/ Smile on your brother

Everybody get together/ Love one another right now

Love one another right now/ Love one another right now

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