Thursday Inspiration #143 Top of the World

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word top, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘Top of the World’, or by going with another song by the Carpenters, or anything else that you think fits.  ‘Top of the World’ is a 1972 song written and composed by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis and first recorded by American pop duo Carpenters for their fourth studio album A Song for You, and it became a #1 hit om the Billboard Hot 100 and it charted #5 in the UK.  ‘Top of the World’ was their third single to peak at #1, but it was originally just meant to be an album cut, however after Lynn Anderson had a #2 country hit with her version of the song, the Carpenters decided to release their own version.  ‘Top of the World’ hit #1 for two consecutive weeks in 1973, after the album had already been out for a year and a half.

Richard created the Richard Carpenter Trio in 1965 with his sister Karen (4 years younger than him) on drums who was still in High School and their friend Wes Jacobs on bass and tuba to play at some weddings and dances.  They became so good that they entered the Battle of the Bands contest at the Hollywood Bowl in June 1966.  After they won the finals with their single ‘I’ll Be Yours’, RCA signed them, but it didn’t pan out, deciding that their music was not the right fit, as their sound was considered to be too soft, so they released them and the songs that they cut never made it to the record stores.  Richard met lyricist John Bettis while he was studding music at California State College (now known as California State University, Long Beach).

In the summer of 1966, Karen signed to Magic Lamp Records owned by Joe Osborn, and she recorded the single ‘Looking for Love’, written and arranged by: Richard Carpenter who accompanied Karen on keyboard, and Joe produced and played bass on this track, but it didn’t sell, and the label folded, although this is a collector’s item now.  Around 1967, Richard and Karen joined four other student musicians from Long Beach State to form a sextet, called Spectrum, with John Bettis on guitar, Gary Sims on guitar and Danny Woodhams playing bass and vocalist Leslie Johnston.  The band folded after a year, because their calmer middle-of-the-road sound didn’t fit with the Summer of Love and Woodstock style during this height of psychedelic rock period.

After a variety of band names and lineups, Richard and Karen settled on the Carpenters.  One of the demo tapes made in Osborn’s garage made its way to Herb Albert, the trumpet player and founder of A&M Records.  Albert signed the Carpenters to a contract T with A&M Records in 1969.  At the time Karen was only 19 had to have a parent co-sign the contract.  When the Carpenters signed to A&M Records, they were given free rein in the studio to create an album in their own style.  The album was named Offering and most of the material had already been written for and performed while they were called Spectrum, although two demos were recorded with Osborn and Joe played bass on the album and he remained their regular studio bassist throughout their career.  The carpenters finally made it big in 1970 when they recorded the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song ‘(They Long to Be) Close to You’ which was recorded by Dionne Warwick some seven years earlier.

‘Top of the World’ is a broad and unconflicted love song, straightforward to the point of being simplistic.  To be on top of the world alludes to the peak of success or happiness, being so delighted that you are proud.  This is not a place that can be physically reached, it is a feeling that is wonderfully glorious where you are completely ecstatic, and only love can take you to this special space.  Karen Carpenter sang lead and backing vocals, Richard Carpenter sang backing vocals, played Wurlitzer electronic piano, and did the orchestration for this song.  Joe Osborn was on bass guitar with Hal Blaine playing brushed drums, Tony Peluso on electric guitar, Buddy Emmons on pedal steel guitar and the tambourine is uncredited.  Karen Carpenter was an excellent drummer, but Hal Blaine and Joe Osborn who were both members of The Wrecking Crew played on most of their hits.  Peluso joined the Carpenters in 1972 for this recording and toured with the band as their lead guitarist from 1972 to 1983.  Buddy Gene Emmons was widely regarded as the world’s foremost pedal steel guitarist of his day.  In 2011, John Bettis was inducted into both the national Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found, ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world

16 thoughts on “Thursday Inspiration #143 Top of the World

    1. Singer Rumer has velvety smooth vocals which allows her to tackle some very difficult songs and she also writes her own music and being 42 years old now, I doubt her style is going to change.

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