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"Let's Pretend" (It's A Perfect World)

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ira   

Eric...I may have told you this story...

So..I'm in college...

I LOVE "Go All The Way"..and "I Wanna Be With You"...

I'm in the car with Bob and Aaron...

Aaron is a "Fabisinah"..Yiddish for someone who DOES wanna spoil the party...

We hear "Let's Pretend" on WABC...the biggest radio station in the nation.

(I'm not a virgin in general....BUT this is my first time  hearing THIS amazing tune).

I say to Bob and Aaron.. "This is a Top 10 record"..

Aaron says.."I'll bet you 10 bucks it's not"..

Trust me...he only said this 'cause he's...as previously stated...he's a world class Fabisinah..who wanted to piss me off..

(Guess it worked...100 years later..I'm still pissed off...)

Anyway..Aaron hasn't done very well the last few years..a condition I ascribe to his teasing me about "Let's Pretend".. :D

But seriously...I think..as we all do..that this is a monumental recording..

Would you be kind enough to share your thoughts as to why this song that has absolutely EVERYTHING was not an even BIGGER hit..

( BTW...In a perfect world...Aaron would STILL not be doing well these days..AND "Let's Pretend" woulda been the  #1record of the decade..IMHO.. :) )

Thanks-Ira.

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(In my humble opinion) "Let's Pretend" got as far as it could because it was unclassifiable. It wasn't power-pop, it wasn't a ballad, it wasn't a song a guy could sing along to without getting looks from his supposedly cooler, more musically savvy friends. Its two predecessors (GATW and IWBWY) were clearly power-pop rockers.  "Let's Pretend" was a different breed. To this day, even I have a hard time trying to describe what genre/phylum/species of Top 40 music it falls into. Its softer side and higher notes forced a lot of people to question what the Raspberries were. I'm just glad I wasn't one of them.

 

Dave

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Dave has a point, as my guess is not many men would go around blaring the song on their speakers. 

The song is so romantic and speaks to a situation most men don't want to elaborate on and is a bit like ABM in that regard only. 

"LP" is certainly a beautiful showcase for Eric's vocal and emotional range.  I'm a fan.  ;)

M.E.

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ira   

I guess it must have been true that to fit in the "Top 40" format..there were some "easy" categorizations and if you didn't fit those categorizations..programmers didn't know what the hell to do with you...

BUT....to me.."Hit" records are like the famous definition of pornography..

"I can't define it...but I know what it is when I see it.."

"Let's Pretend" is so F@#%*ng good..that you'd think this hybrid Ballad/Rocker would raise the level of Top 40 programmer's  thinking rather than defying their limited thought process which culminated in...

"DUH..what are we gonna do with it"?

..So next week..it ain't on the WDUH ..Kalamazoo Survey.

:) ..SHEESH!!

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James   

The song is a perfect song, I agree.  It was born of pure God given talent......you can't manufacture a melody like that....that comes from a place deep down that 99.9999999999% of humans don't even possess. 

It's pure genius melody.  It's as great as any melody ever written.  Ever.

James

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James   

I'm not sure I'm getting the "hard to define" angle.  "Let's Pretend" is a pop song from the rock era...it's on a higher (much higher) level than most pop songs, it's rich, it's got texture and it's melody is perfect.  But it's a pop song just like "Yesterday", "Wouldn't It Be Nice", "God Only Knows", "Shannon", etc.....all these were beautiful melodies that made it big..."Let's Pretend" is in their class and is no harder to define than they would be, IMHO.

A lot of good songs ..even great songs ...don't make it big.  It happens.  This is true of virtually all Eric Carmen written songs that were released as 45s...other than the 6 or so that made it pretty high up the charts. 

No mystery, no problems with definition....just another GREAT song that the public never got the chance to really know.

James

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ira   

James...I agree...here's another one in that category..(one of Darlene's favorites) ..though IT may have suffered "Chart Stagnation" due to competing versions by Tim Moore it's writer and Arthur Garfunkel)..

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I guess I've never really tried to think more "into"this song then how it has been a conduit to so many different aspects of my life, even to the point that somehow I can't understand how one song had that much of an impact.

Ya know...I think I could actually write a book about it, but then again, some moments pertaining to this song that are entwined with my life, are very special, and I think that occasionally special things should remain, well..."special", therefore shared with perhaps a few, and many a time, kept in one's heart, always.

Having said that...when I hear it, it makes me smile on top of knowing that it is really, hands down — a beautiful song. And...I agree with Duane, it was a smash hit in /on "Wendy World", and I suppose that somehow...it always will be.

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I hope this post will help clear up some of the "mystery" as to why "Let's Pretend" didn't chart higher. The reason is really much more mundane, than you would imagine.

Capitol Records signs Raspberries and ( strangely ) decides to release "Don't Wanna Say Goodbye" as the first single. Why? I couldn't tell you. It made no sense to me. It was a five-and-a-half minute ballad, at a time when "hits" should have been about two minutes shorter. "DWSG" stiffs at about #90 on Billboard, and Capitol "discovers" "Go All The Way." They pull out all the stops because it's important that the NEW single becomes a hit. If it doesn't, the album stiffs and that's the end of that.

So, they take out their wallet, and promote the daylights out of "GATW," and, lo and behold, it cracks the top five on Billboard, and sells 1.2 million copies. "GATW" is now a bonafide hit.

Now, the thinking at record labels is that the next single, following a monster hit, is pretty much a given at radio. The success of "GATW" paved the way for the success of "I Wanna Be With You," and, true to form, "IWBWY" goes right up the charts. But, because the label thinks it's a "given", they don't spend as much on promotion and they don't work "IWBWY" as hard as they worked "GATW". And the result is that "IWBWY" while still considered a "hit" is less of a hit than "GATW" was.

Here is where the thinking becomes very flawed. They decide "Let's Pretend" is the next single, but now the bean counters are a little worried because "IWBWY" didn't do as well as "GATW." You would think that, in order to protect their investment, they would open up their wallet again, and promote "LP" the way they promoted "GATW." But that's not the way they think. They reason that "IWBWY" didn't do as well as "GATW" so, maybe, we should hold back some of the promotion dollars, until we see if "LP" is going to "catch on" at radio. Any idiot could tell you that radio was controlled by "independent promotion," which at that time was a network of guys across the country who the labels would hire to make sure that their record gets played.

The labels would funnel this "network" a hundred thousand dollars, which, in turn, would end up, somehow, in the hands of key program directors. "Independent promotion" was like buying insurance that your record would get played. Every label used the "network" because, basically, they controlled radio. If you didn't, you could be assured that your record would never make the charts. How much you were willing to spend determined how many key stations would add the record, and how many times a day they would play it, and a what time. That's called "rotation." A radio station can add your record, but if the "rotation" is that they play it twice, between midnight and 5:00 A.M., not many people are going to hear it, and if they don't hear it, they won't buy it.

The optimum rotation is four or five times a day during "drive time" ( 7:00 -9:00 AM, 4:00-7:00 PM ). That's when people are in their cars going to work or coming home from work. So, by pulling back the promotional dollars, and taking the "wait and see" approach, "Let's Pretend" was doomed. It wasn't following a monster hit, it was following the follow-up to a monster hit, that didn't do quite as well. And so, "LP" barely cracked the top 20, and in so, doing set the stage for the failure of "Tonight."

Every week, all the major labels released new albums by Elton John, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel, James Taylor and many, many more. In any given week, three songs drop out of the top ten, opening up three slots for three new records to enter the top ten. Whose records get those three slots is determined by how much their label is willing to spend to INSURE their artist "makes it."

Some labels are just better at this than others, and the labels that are most successful have the most money to spend. And so it goes.

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Well, that's a long and not too complex explanation but also as you said, (somewhat) mundane.  Very interesting information for someone like myself.  I really didn't know the entire process and all of the players involved in song promotion. 

Tonight will always be a huge hit with me personally.  LOVE it.  :)

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Kirk   

I had high hopes for "Let's Pretend".  At one point it took a huge jump on the KHJ charts, going from 22 to 13 in one week!  That was the largest single jump for any Raspberries song before or since.  Then it stalled, and made a quick exit off the charts.  I had been calling KHJ non-stop since LP hit the charts.  At some point, they must have realized the (my) requests didn't jive with sales and promotion numbers from other sources.  Since Capitol wasn't really promoting the song, I was thrilled to see the results achieved by calling every DJ every day requesting the song.  Too bad they figured it out... 

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ira   
On 4/7/2014 at 1:06 PM, Eric Carmen said:

I hope this post will help clear up some of the "mystery" as to why "Let's Pretend" didn't chart higher. The reason is really much more mundane, than you would imagine.

Thanks so much for your "Tales From The Capitol Crypt"...

Seriously...What a joy it has been for all of  us to "speak" to you on line..and for some of us.(."lucky me")..even in person!!

Your insights enhance the pleasure we have ALWAYS gotten from your music..

Happy belated Spring Eric.. :D

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ira   

I could almost start an identical thread thread titled.."Never Gonna Fall In Love Again"..#1 In A Perfect World...

Make The same comments....about this TERRIFIC record too....

And wonder why it wasn't an even bigger record...

What a GREAT RECORD..But you all know that.. :)

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James   

I think it did pretty well.  It got a ton of play in Columbus, OH, where I grew up.  It's a great great song.  I like it even better than "All By Myself".

I know people always say it's a ballad, but I don't hear it as a ballad.  It moves along a little quicker and a little more melodic
than do ballads.

And then there is "Everything".  So great (and underrated by us fans)  that it may be the most beautiful melody of Eric Carmen's catalog. It's short length is also genius in that I can never get enough of that song.  Frustrating but smart.  Also a perfect lead in to the most energized (IMHO) song Eric Carmen ever put out....at least the last 60 seconds or so.

Anyway..

James

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