34. "Merry Christmas Darling," The CarpentersA&M 1236 b/w "Mr. Guder"
Highest chart position: #45 UK (1970)
Recorded June 1970, August 1978, Hollywood, CA
If this sounds like an artifact from an earlier time, it sort of is -- this gentle, warm ballad of longing was actually written back in 1946 by one Frank Pooler, a lovestruck young teen who went on to become musical director at California State University at Long Beach. When brother-sister duo Karen and Richard Carpenter attended "The Beach" in the mid-Sixties, their instructor Pooler played the song for them, remarking that he'd never been happy with the melody. Richard reworked it and re-recorded it in 1970, and it was rush-released for the holidays, but not a huge hit. Over the years, it's become a standard, however, due perhaps in part to a re-recording of Karen's lead vocal in 1978 -- apparently she was dissatisfied with her dry run, too.