Stories about the songs on Karen’s solo album

Note here, Karen and me parted company from June 22, 1979 to June 12, 1981 so anything noted as 'before June 1979' was at least started to be recorded before June 22, 1979.

Note also, the recording was finished in January 1980 and Karen had not met Thomas Burris until around April 1980.

First, the original producer suggested was Eddie Kramer but Eddie and Karen never recorded anything and Eddie was the one who suggested Karen try Phil Ramone around late March or early April 1979.  Originally Karen and me joked around about Karen becoming the next "guitar god" as Eddie had produced Jimi Hendrix and Ace Frehley (Kiss).  But then, Eddie Van Halen was beating Karen to that title for some odd reason.  Maybe because Karen really didn't take an interest in playing the guitar or was that a geetar.  Karen would get those things mixed up.

Karen had also met with Gene Simmons (Kiss) as well.  Not totally sure if it was before or after Eddie Kramer's visit though.  Gene didn't have on his makeup and had on a leisure suit (like a teacher).

He’s Out of My Life – Tom Bahler – given to Karen by Tom, this was probably one of the first songs for the album.  I don’t think Phil ever let her record this as it was too similar to stuff that Karen did with the Carpenters.  The song had to do with Tom’s ex-girlfriend (Rhonda/Rhoda?) and not about Karen.

Rock with You – written by Rod Temperton based on ideas from Karen especially the chorus which was originally stuck in Karen’s head of “I wanna uh with you”.  It was the first Thursday in May and Karen and Rod were in Phil's kitchen and Karen came out with the "I wanna uh with you" melody while either setting the table or doing dishes (I can't remember which).  Rod then said something like "Hey that's kind of got a beat to it.  What brought this on?"  And then Karen told Rod about her and me and that I was younger.  Rod then said something like, "Have you two ever thought of becoming Jewish?" (a joke on the legal age in Israel being 13).  And then Rod was like, "Well let's see if we can get this guy to loosen up for you..." and Rock with You was born.  The original lyric sheet was on regular hole punched notebook paper, laminated just in case Rod spilled his coffee again.  The “I wanna uh with you” came from Karen after the Eddie Kramer meeting and Eddie gave Karen the raison d’etre (reason of being, purpose) speech.  So the actual inspiration for the song was the same inspiration that inspired the "Rock and Roll All Nite" song by Kiss and I am not sure but I also believe it was the same speech that inspired "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix.  The song was written before mid May 1979 but only partial demos were ever recorded as Phil had Rod sabotage her recording sessions on this song.  The song was written in early May 1979 mostly by Rod with ideas Rod got from Karen about the verses and such.  The song was actually a syrupy sweet ballad type love song with a dance beat groove music mix in the background to liven it up a bit.  Rod's "gift of gab" as he called it.  And after a while of trying to remember this, I remember now that the original starting word was "boy" but both Karen and Rod were worried that people might take that the wrong way, so they tried "baby" as well and just in case "darling".  "A grown woman singing a love song about a boy?"  They did want to try and stick with boy as the original idea was actually based on a boy (14 years old) but that publicity thing.  This was the actual song that Karen said she used to sing, dance and strut around like a diva to when she was recording it.

Off the Wall – Rod Temperton – Rod wrote this on his plane ride in mid May 1979 after getting an idea after talking with Karen and me over the phone just before Rod left for LA to work with Michael Jackson.  The song was written by Rod about Karen as Karen was an off the wall kind of person.  The main event behind the song was an evening at a pub with Karen, Rod and Debbie Gibson (not the singer).  Karen played a practical joke on Rod (Roddy Woddy as Debbie was calling him) and Karen grabbed a pool cue off the wall and started chasing Rod around the pub pretending to be a jealous ex-lover of Rod’s.  I don’t think Karen ever recorded this as it was given to Michael just after being written.

Burn This Disco Out - Rod Temperton - When landing in LA for the Michael Jackson sessions, there was a building on fire that Rod saw just outside the plane window as the plane was coming in to land.  One of the passengers on the plane said that the building on fire was a local disco.  After landing, Rod came up with the song Burn This Disco Out.  The song had nothing to do with Karen's solo album outside of the time frame and such.  Not considered a contender for Karen's solo album.

Making Love in the Afternoon – Peter Cetera – Done before June 22, 1979.  Karen had Peter stick in the “Beatle tune” in the lyrics as I used to sing Karen Beatle songs from early September 1978 until about December 1978.  Done before June 1979.

Remember When Loving Took All Night – John Farrar & Molly Ann Leiken – John wrote stuff for Olivia but there was an inside joke around mid October 1978 between Karen and I after a visit from Cubby O’Brien.  The inside joke between Karen and I was ‘no quickies’ and as this song is kind of about having a quickie and written by John who wrote songs for Olivia, Karen did this one.  I am not sure on when this one might have been recorded as I don't actually remember Karen talking directly about this one.  Chances are done after June 1979 but not positive on that.  The reason why is because I think that John was on the west coast so that would have been the later sessions as Karen was in New York City for the start from May to June 1979.

Still In Love With You – Russell Javors – after doing the song, Rod Temperton had Russell (or Lib or Grimey?) call Karen up and pretend to be a representative from Merriam - Webster (the dictionary company) and ask Karen what the meaning of the word “buddaho” was.  I was there when Karen got the call and I told Karen to say “it means the same as mannahay and for mannahay see buddaho”.  I can't remember for sure if it was Rusty or Lib that called but I am pretty sure Rusty (and definitely not Grimey), but I do know that it was Rod Temperton behind it as Rod was the one who had Karen's number there.  Done before June 1979.

Make Believe It’s Your First Time – Bob Morrison & Johnny Wilson – Karen picked this song out because she felt it had a double meaning.  The obvious is the ‘virgin’ first time but Karen also felt the song could also be considered to be about reincarnation.  With the possible double meaning (and with other songs being given away as Rock with You was Karen’s favorite), this was probably Karen’s favorite song that was released with her solo album.  I remember Karen and me talking about this song in June 1981.  Not sure when Karen may have recorded this.  I think she did a couple different versions.  I know this was started before June 1979.  Not sure about overdubs and do overs and such on this one later on.

Guess I just Lost My Head – Rob Mounsey – the original word was ‘riles’ but Karen used ‘rives’ instead.  Done before June 1979.

Still Crazy After All These Years & I’d Do It For Your Love – Paul Simon – Karen told me about the Paul Simon visit and how Paul was giving Karen ideas and pointers on things that had been tried when Paul recorded Still Crazy.  Glenn Burger went off on Paul and afterwards Karen and Rod Temperton would quietly refer to Glenny as ‘Spaz’.  According to Karen, Paul wasn’t saying anything bad about Karen doing the song but Paul was just talking about some stuff that Paul had tried as ideas on how to possibly do the song as I guess when Paul originally thought of the song, the song had a kind of jazz feel to it then Paul made it into a ballad without the horns and such when he released it.  Done before June 1979.

I Love Makin’ Love To You & Keep My Lovelight Burnin’ – Evie Sands & Ben Weitsman (& Love Makin’ Love To You added writer – Richard Germinaro, not sure if Richard Germinaro was there but Karen told me about Ben being there) – Karen had told me about Ben stopping by and them being involved with the Beatlemania show.  Karen also mentioned “Keep My Lovelight Burnin’” and told me that I might like part of the song but the chorus was kind of wimpy so probably not.  Done before June 1979.

Don’t Try To Win Me Back Again – Carlotta McKee & Gordon Gordy – Karen mentioned Carlotta to me but she didn’t really say anything about the song that I remember.  Done before June 1979.  Karen chose to do this song based on Max Baer Jr.

Midnight (Never Lets You Down) – Rod Temperton – one day Rod and Karen just opened up Karen’s diary to a random page and the page that the diary opened up to was in late September 1978.  In late September 1978 Karen had written in her diary that her and I talked about night lights.  So the idea behind the song was that Karen slept with a night light which somehow got turned into midnight.  Done before June 1979.

Truly You – Russell Javors – I think this was done before June 1979.

It's Really You - Alan Tarney, Tom Snow, Trevor Spencer - I remember Karen mentioning Tom Snow.  Done before June 1979.

Something’s Missing (In My Life) – Jay Asher & Paul Jabare – Karen chose this song and told Jay and Paul a partial story about the heart to heart talk Karen and I had in mid October 1978.  During the talk I had told Karen that I hugged my pillow and so Karen told them that story about a boy she knew that when he missed her, he hugged his pillow.  And I think it was Jay that said something like, “How could you not hug someone as cute as that?” or something like that and Karen said that the boy (me) wouldn’t hug Karen because he was afraid Karen might get accused of something so we didn’t touch each other.  But during that heart to heart talk I had told Karen about hugging my pillow and then Karen asked me, “Does it help?” and I had said, “No, it only reminds me that something’s missing that I can’t have until I get older.”  Yeah, Karen was a better story teller than me.  Done before June 1979.

My Body Keeps Changing My Mind - Leslie Pearl - I am fairly sure but not positive that this one was recorded after June 1979.  Karen mentioned this one to me in June 1981 and said she did this one because of the way the word "dancing" was.  When Karen and I danced together in October 1978 then June 1979, I would say, "Look Honey, We're dancing; we're dancing" with that odd "dancing" pronunciation.  My pronunciation had a little bit more southern type accent to it though.  In June 1981 Karen and I discussed this song and Karen talked about this song as being a song she was wanting to change the lyric after thinking about it.  Karen was thinking about changing the lyric from "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind" to "Your Swagger Keeps Changing My Mind".  Karen was against women being seen as just 'sex objects' which was why she had thought about changing My Body (woman) to Your Swagger (man) which would shift the blame away from a woman's body to a man's swagger where the blame belonged on all that 'sex' stuff.

All Because of You - Russell Javors - I am not positive but pretty sure that this was one of the first songs done.  Rusty kind of had it laying around so Karen did it.  Pretty sure around May 1979 but not positive.

If I Had You - Stephen Dorff, Gary Harju, Larry Herbstritt - Stephen Dorff had worked on another Carpenters song previously.  Karen hadn't mentioned this one to me at all so I am figuring it was probably done after June 1979, but maybe not.  I'm not sure on this one.  Kind of sure it was later though as I believe Stephen lived on the west coast which early sessions east coast, later sessions west coast.

If We Try - Rod Temperton - Done after June 1979.

Last One Singin' the Blues - Peter McCann - Karen had mentioned this before as I remember this was the guy who did the "Do You Wanna Make Love" song.  Done before June 1979.  If wondering, Karen chose it because of me and that 'mixed signals' stuff between us.

Jimmy Mack - Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier - I don't remember Karen talking about this one.  I am thinking that it was done early on (before June 1979) but not positive on that.  I am thinking early sessions because I think that Jimmy Mack was more an east coast song and I believe the singers on the original lived on the east coast at the time, but still not positive on that.

In & Out - ? - I believe Karen mentioned this and that they had laid down an instrumental track but were not happy with the lyrics so it was scrapped without any vocals I believe before June 1979.

? - ? - I can't remember the name of another instrumental track done, but there were two songs that had instrumental tracks done to them but because of lyric content issues, neither track ever had any vocal tracks recorded for them and both songs were scrapped.

Lovelines – Rod Temperton - was one of the last songs done for the album.  The song was written based on the ‘physical vs. emotional’ love theme suggested for the album back in mid May 1979.  The physical Baby and the emotional/romantic Darling in the lyrics.  Done in January 1980 I believe.

And not sure which track, but I know this was before June 22, 1979.  They were putting down backing vocals for a song so it was Karen and a couple of the guys in the recording booth on chairs and Rod Temperton in the control room.  Rod did the countdown for recording and just after the countdown (4,3,2,1) Karen let out a loud, long, juicy and wall rattling fart and Karen and the guys in the booth just lost it and started laughing.  Then Rod tried to get everyone back to recording again and said something like, "All right if you a**holes are done now..." and then Rod lost it and Karen and the guys in the booth lost it again and were laughing so hard they nearly fell off the chairs.  They all laughed so hard they all had tears rolling down their faces.  After all, this was 'one take Karen' and she was always very serious in the studio, well, almost always anyway... 

When Karen first started her solo album, she actually weighed 136 pounds (early May 1979).  Around June 22, 1979 Karen weighed about 124 pounds.  There are also some pictures around with Karen, Richard, Olivia and the Bee Gees from I believe July 6, 1979.  Around the fall of 1979 (October or November) Karen was back down to below 100 pounds and I guess they finished the recording for the solo album out in LA (the May and June 1979 sessions were done at A & R Studios in New York City).  I think the photo shoot for the cover was done in January 1980 but not sure.  Karen and I didn't see each other or talk with each other from June 22, 1979 to June 12, 1981.

Another note, I am fairly sure that Billy Joel had showed up as well (as his band was working on Karen's solo album as well as his album at the time) but I am just not sure if only one time or more than once.  Also not sure if Christie Brinkley had been there as well or if she was just talked about.  The reason why I remember about this is that Karen and me had discussed baby names around March 1979 and we had talked about Christie Lee Brinkley back then.  But I am not sure if Karen and Billy talked about Christie or if Christie was actually there around May / June 1979.  Karen isn't around anymore to double check on that.

As far as I know, Karen only did one interview for her solo album and that was with Rolling Stone magazine on March 17, 1980 at Rolling Stone's New York City offices.  As far as I know, that interview has never seen the light of day since it was done that day.  Karen had the interviewer hold on to the interview and then Karen decided to shelve the album so the interview was never published.

And a final note here, I Wanna Be Free was recorded in 1971 (Make Your Own Kind of Music special during Tan Album period) and was not a part of Karen's solo album.