Carpenters - DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? (1984)




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Published on Sep 8, 2009

Karen Carpenter recorded her vocal for "Do You Hear What I Hear?" in 1978 during the sessions for the "Christmas Portrait" record album, but the song was left unfinished at the time because too many songs had been recorded for the project.

Richard Carpenter later completed production on this track and several others in 1984 (the year after Karen's passing) for inclusion on the duo's second Yuletide album, "An Old Fashioned Christmas." (Both albums are now available as the 2-CD "Christmas Collection.")

As you can hear on this song, Karen's magical voice was particularly touching on Christmas carols. What is remarkable about this vocal is that it was a "work lead" recorded during the rhythm tracking sessions to familiarize the musicians with the song, and it was never intended to be heard by the public. Had Karen lived, she no doubt would have re-recorded her vocal once the final arrangement had been completed. But Karen's work leads were usually so pitch-perfect that they were releasable.

Why does Richard sing the first verse instead of Karen? Richard explains on his website:

"Karen would sing the work lead while we did the rhythm track and some of the orchestra backing. The beginning right after the intro and the first part of the first verse, the track is from one take. It was then edited onto the bulk of another take; and, in the bit of track on the beginning of one take, Karen either misplaced her music or she was preoccupied, and ended up singing 'hmm, hmm night wind to the little lamb', instead of 'Said the night wind to the little lamb.' The only way I could do it, because it had 'hmm hmm' was for me to sing, 'Said the night wind to the little lamb, do you hear what I hear' and then continue it with Karen."

The Carpenters never produced a video for this song, so I assembled this unauthorized version as a suggestion of how an official video might have looked (which is why the lip movements are out of sync), using clips from these video sources:

--"Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait" (TV special, 1978);
--"Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" (A&M Records video, 1977); and
--"Carpenters: Space Encounters" (TV special, 1978).

Written by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne
Produced by Richard Carpenter
Arranged by Peter Knight

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" has been recorded by many, many artists, including The Harry Simeone Chorale, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, Destiny's Child, Martina McBride, Kristen Chenoweth and Third Day (to name just a few).



Richard Carpenter's website:

  • Category

  • Song

  • Artist

    • Carpenters
  • Writers

    • Noël Regney, Gloria Shayne Baker
  • Licensed to YouTube by

    • UMG (on behalf of A&M); ARESA, EMI Music Publishing, Regent Music Group, UMPI, ASCAP, and 9 Music Rights Societies


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