A&M Records' Greatest Hits

On the label's 50th anniversary, founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss remember five decades of classic records

Carpenters, 'Close To You' (1970)

5. Carpenters, 'Close To You' (1970)
A&M Records

Alpert: "An interesting part of the Carpenters' story is they laid an egg on their first album. It didn't even get a positive response from people in our own company! What turned them around was, I was in New York with [esteemed lyricist] Hal David, and asked him to send me every song he couldn't stop listening to; he sent me '(They Long To Be) Close To You." I recorded it myself, and thought I had a good record, but an engineer friend told me, 'You sound terrible singing this song.' Then Carpenters came along, I slipped 'Close To You' to Richard [Carpenter], and that was the one that did it for them. Richard had a feel for wonderful melody, and Karen [Carpenter] had one of those god-given voices. I closed my eyes as I sat on couch listening to her audition tape, and it sounded like her voice was sitting next to me. She had something magical, but didn't think of herself as a singer – she thought of herself as a drummer. It took a while to get her in front of the drums. Unfortunately, she didn't realize how many people she touched."

Moss: "Carpenters had ten gold singles in the Seventies. That kind of run doesn't happen very often, and it just didn't happen at that time. We sold millions of Carpenters albums on top of that – we even sold amazing amounts of sheet music for them! A song like 'We've Only Just Begun' still gets played at weddings and football games. They had an amazing run."

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