Wednesday, 2 March 2011

I See Your Sweet Sweet Smile Everyday

***New Catagory this week***

Hip to be Square

“(They Long to Be) Close to You” by the Carpenters (1970)

I decided to introduce a new section this week – ‘Hip to be Square’. The name was my daughter’s idea actually and it works. The Huey Lewis song (1986) of the same name told the baby-boomers that it was time to rejuv. Was it so wrong saying it was hip to be square?

Everybody has those songs they like but they would prefer not to admit. Not everyone has the confidence of Johnny (Nick Cage) in Ghost Rider where he openly states that he like the Carpenters, and proceeds to play the music.

Since the dawn of pop music there have been these songs. Sometimes they start off as ‘public’ songs but soon you find you are playing them in the basement, singing them in your car – and turning down the volume when someone cruises up beside you at the light. 

The Carpenters were and are the classic square band. The A&M1 record label really wanted and pleaded with them to be squeaky-clean. They put something like 15 number one songs on the chart. Nobody’s parents minded if you played a Carpenter’s LP2 in fact au contraire they may have even have bought you one for your birthday (if they loved you!)

Burt Bacharach was the prolific king of square song writing in the 60’s and early 70’s. You have no doubt heard many of them -  “Do you know the way to San José” and “Walk on By”  (Dion Warwick), “The Look of Love”  (Dusty Springfield, later done by Dianna Krall), “Baby it’s You “ (The Shirelles, The Beatles), “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (B.J. Thomas), “What’s New Pussycat” (Tom Jones), and many more. 

Anyway, Burt gave the song to Herb Alpert who owned the record company and Herb gave it to Richard Carpenter who made his little (anorexia poster-child) sister sing it and boom-baby: Instant number one record!  As we  talk about, the year 1970 was classic rock heaven, so who the hell had time to listen to this, let alone buy enough vinyl to make it number one? If a record is number one, than it was a lot more than squares listening to it – everybody was! All over the freakin’ globe! This stuff was huge!

The sweet, sweet syrupy voice of Karen swept the world and made us mellow once again. If you were missing the peace and love of the sixties dude and you were tired of In-A-Gada-Da-Vida-ing3 your weary brain everyday this was the ticket. 

Hey don’t get me wrong I love the Carpenters and I would not include the ‘Hip to Be Square” song if I was not the guy that stops singing when I pull up beside you at a light and hit the 'down volume' button. 

1)      A&M Records – a large record company owned by Herb Albert and Jerry Moss.
2)      LP – Common abbreviation for ‘Long Play Records’. They revolve at 33 revolutions per minute, considerably slower than the ‘45” or 45 rpm record which was the format for singles.
3)      “In-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly (1968)

1 comment:

Jo-Anne said...

I would be curious to know what other songs people secretly listen to but hate to admit it. I confess to secretly listening to the fun little song "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" recorded by Napoleon XIV in 1966 - but please don't tell anyone!