Editor’s note: I decided to do my own ice bucket challenge and listen to The Carpenters’ A Christmas Portrait. I listened to the whole thing in its entirety to see if I could take a high concentration of sappy holiday cheer. Read on to see the “real time” commentary as I listened to each track:
- It’s Christmas Time is the opening track. She has GOT to be on cocaine! At least whomever is playing the piano. Something about rolling out the barrel? Huh? I don’t get it. Now she’s singing “Sleep well, little children – wherever you are.” God, this is overblown, there’s kind of a “Whoville” quality to it I can’t quite explain.
- Christmas Song is playing now… LOL, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” When I was in high school band, there was a guy named John in our section so we always changed it to “John’s nuts roasting…on an open fire” (poor, poor John – he was the son of the schools superintendent so he got his share of chiding). God, I’m only two songs in and I don’t know how much of Karen’s super perfect sugary sweet voice I can take (steels self). I still maintain she made a deal with Satan to get her perfect voice…oh good, next track…
- God, this one will be rough….Merry Christmas Darling. This is one of the ones they play at work. Is this one an original song? I’ll have to look into this one…Was this recorded in an echo chamber? Speaking of chambers, I would love to be in a sensory deprivation chamber right about now! Oh boy a brief saxophone solo! Bummer, it’s Karen back to singing…Wouldn’t it be creepy if she were singing this one to her brother? Did anyone else think Donny and Marie were…doing each other – and maybe that Marie was doing all of her brothers? I mean, while we’re on the topic of musical acts consisting of siblings (like The Carpenters).
- Ave Maria? What the HELL does this song have to do with Christmas? Are they just fleshing out the album? I mean…she COULD have at least sung Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer (though I don’t think that one was written yet). I would LOVE to hear Karen Carpenter singing that song! In my fantasy at gunpoint, that shall come to pass! Anyone else see Tank Girl, when Lori Petty forces everyone – at gunpoint – in the room to sing Cole Porter’s Let’s Do It. I want to live in this universe!
- Now it’s Home for the Holidays. You all might be surprised to learn that I actually don’t mind this song. It has a nice strong, catchy melody and was fun to play when I was in band. This is the best track so far IMHO.
- Do You Hear What I Hear. Now the Carpenter dude is singing…Richard? I’ll have to look that up later. His voice is just as dreamy and sugary as his sister’s. Now she’s taking over. I always thought this song was about schizophrenia, but it probably isn’t. This one is too overblown. Good it’s over.
- Oh boy, Sleigh Ride. Another holiday song I actually don’t mind. Though I prefer it without the lyrics. And honestly…why wax so sentimental about sleigh rides anyway? I mean, it WAS the only way to get around way back in the days when cholera was rampant and horse thievery was punishable by hanging. But I have zero interest in staring at a horse’s ass and freezing my own ass off at the same time.
- Carol of the Bells. Oh lord, this one is gonna test me. It’s the music of insanity. The pianist is definitely coked up. So are the backup singers. Good this track was short. Moving on…
- Silent Night. I like this song. Silence is nice. I sure would love some silence right about now. This one is better in German, Stille Nacht. Too many backup singers, Karen. You could easily carry this one on your own. Take that as a compliment. Only four tracks to go after this! Thankfully LPs had a limited amount of recording space to work with (whew)
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Who is singing this one? It’s some woman…not Karen. Kind of depressing. Now Karen’s going to take the mic, I’m sure..
- O Holy Night. Might surprise you all that I actually don’t hate this one, either. Not sure I like this rendition…hold the phone – is it an INSTRUMENTAL? Maybe Karen was busy doing something else while this was going on. You gotta have good range to sing this one. Karen was a great singer, but this one is kind of operatic. Maybe that’s why she sat it out. Too overblown. Just focus on the piano, people. It’s lovely on the piano. Or acoustic guitar. But I ain’t no Quincy Jones or George Martin, what the Hell do I know about music production?
- Home for the Holidays. They’re doing this one AGAIN? They couldn’t think of another song to do? How about O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen? I call shenanigans! Joy to the World? Frosty the Snowman? Winter Wonderland? Here Comes Santa Claus? The Wassail Song? Deck The Halls?
- Now it’s a medley. Now I’m hearing Here Comes Santa Claus…this will be a “name that tune” challenge (challenge accepted). Now Frosty the Snowman. Now it’s Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Reminds me of a bad joke my dad told us as a kid, something about a couple of tourists unsure whether it’s raining or snowing, and a Russian tells them it’s raining. “Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear (groan).” Good King Wenceslas is on now. And it’s over!