The song, written by Richard Carpenter and Songwriters Hall of Famer John Bettis, was a departure from the songs by the superstar brother-sister (Richard and Karen) duo that helped define soft rock in the 1970s, with such upbeat hits as "Close to You," "We've Only Just Begun," and "Top of the World."
The tune, as the title implies, deals with the loss of love and the unlikelihood of ever regaining in. Karen's expressive vocal accentuates the moodiness of the lyrics. And right in the middle of it, we hear Tony Peluso's soaring fuzz guitar that takes the song to new heights.
The song opens mournfully and never lets up:
Later she sings:
If there is a ray of hope, it's in the final verse:
But it closes on a sad note:
One reason this song touches me so much is because Karen died in 1983, at the age of 32, of complications from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that causes people to lose weight to the extreme. I often wondered if she felt unloved in her final years.
I'll admit that I wasn't a big fan of the Carpenters during their heyday (although I loved this song), but I've come to admire appreciate them through the years for their mature and heartfelt songs.
"Goodbye to Love" reached No. 7 on the Billboard charts in 1972. The Carpenters had three No. 1 songs and their catalog of music has more than 100 million in sales.
"Goodbye to Love" lyrics