Thursday, November 1, 2012

Carpenters - The Rainbow Connection

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Recorded in 1981 for the "Made In America" album, this performance is a work lead by Karen. The song was recorded with just piano, bass and drums, and vocals by Karen to introduce the song for the other musicians and to familiarize them with Richard's arrangement. Had the song been completed and included on the album, other instruments would have been added such as strings and horns, and later, Karen would have come back to the studio and recorded a new vocal track. Karen recorded the song at Richard's request, but simply didn't like the song, and so the song was never completed..

Years later, after Karen's death, fans learned of the track and begged Richard to release it. In an interview, Richard stated, "If I ever released it, Karen would come down and get me!" But twenty years after Karen recorded "Rainbow Connection," Richard began work on the last Carpenters album, a Japanese CD entitled "As Time Goes By" released in 2001, and he decided to complete the song and include it on the CD.

To put this song into historical context, it was recorded a year after Karen completed her solo album, an album which she decided to shelve at the urging of A&M. She then returned to the studio to begin recording what turned out to be her last Carpenters album, "Made In America." Her solo album has been described as her effort to change her image by breaking away from traditional Carpenters songs and recording songs with more risque lyrics in a higher tone of voice. She may have viewed "Rainbow Connection" which had been introduced by Kermit the Frog in "The Muppet Movie," as a step back toward the type of song she was trying to break away from. But she obliged Richard by laying down a vocal track, but ultimately, she didn't like the song enough to pursue it any further. But her vocals, however "begrudgingly" they were recorded, are nearly perfect, and show her extreme professionalism towards her craft.

Most Carpenter fans like "Rainbow Connection," but are divided on two aspects of the song: the toy piano and the "angel" voices in the chorus. I like the song just the way it is and it's among one of my favorite Carpenter recordings. Of all the videos I've created using Carpenters songs, this is the first one that made me cry when I viewed it for the first time after its completion. There's something about it that makes me miss her all the more - I'd like to think that she's happy wherever she is and that she's finally found her rainbow connection.

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