It wasn’t the most auspicious of beginnings for Richard and Karen Carpenter.  Despite later huge success with several Top 40 hits and platinum albums, their first album, Offering, was a huge flop.  In fact, the only single to have any chart action at all from the debut disc was a slowed-down remake of the Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride,” (download) re-imagined as a ballad, putting the focus on the sad, forlorn lyrics.  Of course, that same formula of slow songs and woe-is-me lyrics would later score the brother and sister duo many hits, but the first time out, it fell mostly on deaf ears.

In the Carpenters’ hands, “Ticket To Ride” becomes a break-up ballad, with Karen’s superb voice removing the fun, jangly elements of the original and replacing them with heartache.  When Karen sings, “Think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today,” you better believe she means it.  Just listen to the lower notes she hits at the end of the chorus.  When brother Richard and the backing vocals come in during the bridge, however, it all gets a little too Up With People.  But then the arrangement strips things back down to just Karen and the longing returns – when she sings “And he don’t care – don’t care where” near the end, you can hear her little heart shatter.

Closing out the song with the repeated line “Think I’m gonna be sad” pulled from the first verse is a genius move, too.  While “Ticket To Ride” stalled halfway up the Hot 100, the duo’s later success spurred a re-release for Offering in 1970, retitled Ticket To Ride to take advantage of that single’s so-so charting.  Ticket To Ride is currently out of print, though, so if you’re a Carpenters fan (and who isn’t really?  C’mon, admit it), you better snatch it up if you see it.

“Ticket To Ride” peaked at #54 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1970.

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