So, best guitar solo in the world ever* goes to The Carpenters, for a slightly bizarre song; Goodbye To Love. Bizarre, because it really shouldn’t work. The lyric was inspired by Richard Carpenter watching a 1940’s film with Bing Crosby and Basil Rathbone**, in which the lovely (and pre pipe/deerstalker) Rathbone claims to have written a song called ‘Goodbye To Love’. Looking at John Bettis’s lyrics, it definitely feels like it was written especially for Karen C:
“I’ll say goodbye to love, No one ever cared if I should live or die, Time and time again the chance for love has passed me by, And all I know of love is how to live without it, I just can’t seem to find it
So I’ve made my mind up I must live my life alone, And though it’s not the easy way, I guess I’ve always known, I’d say goodbye to love”
The song starts in fairly traditional Carpenters style – soft, sweet, sad, sentimental, soporific, and probably some other words beginning with s. There’s even a clarinet (I think) popping up in the orchestration on the second verse. Then, after a minute or so, a band of angels start harmonising with Karen in a way that only really happens in MGM musicals or Carpenters songs. So far, so standard.
Then, an odd thing happens. Apparently, when they were recording the song, Richard hired Tony Peluzo to play a guitar solo. He recorded something very Carpenters-like, at which point RC said ‘Burn It’. He may well have said ‘Burn It, Man’, but I like to think that no member of the Carpenters family ever got thatcarried away. Anyway, what resulted was the most fantastic guitar solo, with feedback that actually harmonised with itself. And if that wasn’t enough, you get another verse,then just as the angels pop up again, in drives Tony with the real guitar solo.
The Carpenters actually received hate mail when their fans heard this song for the first time; ironic as it triggered off a whole range of pompous power ballads which probably deserved some real vitriol.
Anyway, the point of this is that it shouldn’t work, it does, and because it’s so fresh, and so well executed, it says more than a thousand axe-shredding copyists will ever do. Even if it is by The Carpenters.
*My opinion, and possibly only lasting this week
**They were in the film, rather than sat on the sofa watching it with him