1975 The Carpenters – Solitaire
Neil Sedaka’s career was fading by 1971, and an album he released on RCA records failed to generate much in the way of either airplay or sales. Neil left the US behind and began a tour in England that proved to be successful. After the tour, he began working on a new album using three members of the group 10cc as studio musicians and a fourth member as the engineer for the album.
The title song from the 1972 album was Solitaire. Neil was a trained classical pianist, and he crafted the music for the song, drawing inspiration for the chorus from music by Frederic Chopin. He came up with the music for the chorus based on a recent tune by Roberta Flack. Neil played the music for Phil Cody, who then wrote the lyrics for the song. His recent divorce left Phil in a sad place, and he was often playing solitaire to pass the time.
Petula Clark and Tony Christie released the song on their albums, but neither one released it as a single.
It had been seven years since the Searchers had reached the top forty with a record, and the group became the first to release a single version of Solitaire. Their single failed to even reach the top 100.
The next artist to release the song as a single was Andy Williams in 1973. His version reached #4 in the UK and #23 on the US Adult Contemporary (AC) chart. It did not chart on the Hot 100 at all.
The Carpenters recorded their version of the song in 1975. They had already had a number one single and number four single off their latest album with Top Of The World and I Won’t Last A Day Without You, and Solitaire became their third single from the album.
Richard was not thrilled with the song, but felt it would be a great showcase for Karen’s vocals. Karen hated the song, but sang it anyway. In a way, the single succeeded: it was their twelfth single to top the AC chart.
Unfortunately, the single only reached #17 on the Hot 100, but their success on the Hot 100 was nearly over. The Carpenters had three more chart-topping songs on the AC chart after Solitaire, but they only had two more top twenty songs on the Hot 100 in the remaining seven years before Karen’s death prematurely ended their partnership.
Laura Branigan had a top ten hit with a song titled Solitaire in 1983, but that was a completely different song that Parker McGee wrote.
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