Monday, August 26, 2013

The Carpenters--Hurting Each Other (1972)

     It was 1972 when The Carpenters reached number two with this song, becoming easily the biggest charting version of the song, but it has had an interesting recorded history.
     Written by Gary Geld and Peter Udell in 1965, it was first recorded by Jimmy Clanton later that year on Mala Records. This version (which has a more urgent sound) reminds you of something The Righteous Brothers would have recorded. The Walker Brothers recorded a version in 1966 that had a similar feel. Chad Allen & the Reflections, which was the early version of The Guess Who put a bit more of a pop twist to it.  It was released in Canada in early 1966 and reached the top 20.

     The earliest version of the tune in the form we know it by now comes from the singer Ruth Lewis in 1966. Notice how the urgency of the music has been smoothed out and it has become more of a ballad.
     A later version by Ruby and the Romantics in 1969 attempted to split the difference with a bossa nova style verse and a more straightforward ballad chorus. You can find this on You Tube, but to me, all of the energy was taken out of the song going back and forth. It might have been the version to break through on the US charts if it had made up it's mind where it was going.
     It wasn't until the Carpenters took the song that it became a massive hit and looking back at the other versions it was easy to see why. Richard took the urgency out of the music and gave it their patented soft rock sheen. It was replaced by the heartbreaking sadness of Karen's voice. It was a perfect marriage of lyric to voice and one of their best.



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