25 August 2013

Karen

In my salad days when modern music was my obsession, I scorned acts like The Carpenters. They were cheesy and plastic but as the years have passed I have come to appreciate that Karen Carpenter had a very special and plaintive voice. It was a voice that was subtly imbued with the inner conflicts and uncertainties that would lead to her untimely death in 1983 - at the relatively tender age of thirty two. She was perhaps the most famous victim of anorexia nervosa and even in this video clip you may see something skeletal about her appearance. And why is she seated and why is her fringe threatening to hide her eyes?
It was a life that should have been glittery, secure and happy but as the 1989 biographical film "The Karen Carpenter Story" reveals, it was in reality a life that was riddled with  heartache, self-doubt and tragedy. It is therefore perhaps amazing that she gave us her voice - part of the enduring soundtrack of our age - touching many of us still from so far away..."We'll find a place where there's room to grow". Hope you found it Karen and thank you.

9 comments:

  1. I too never was a fan. I listened to a bit of the clip and plastic is a very polite term for this rubbish.
    I wish Eva Cassidy were still around.

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    1. Eva Cassidy? I thought you were a Black lace kind of chap!

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    2. I was quite taken with the Bangles but turned the sound off.

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  2. I imagine how her voice could have matured over the years as she tried different sorts of music, sort of like Linda Ronstadt. What ever happened to the brother?

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    1. I have thought the same. Karen would have only been sixty three. Her brother raised a family of five in southern California and is still hale and healthy at the age of sixty seven. If interested, read about him via Google/Wikipedia.

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  3. I remember the night Edie Gorme sat on Johnny Carson's couch on The Tonight Show and raved about this wonderful new singing duo and the girl with the pure voice. I can no longer think of Karen Carpenter, however, without thinking of a former daughter-in-law of mine who could sound exactly like her, or Linda Ronstadt, or Patsy Cline....

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  4. I never cared for the song or for any of the Carpenter's songs but I had general feeling that I like them as people. At 65, I still have no clue why some of us are just naturally happy and some not. Of course some, like one of my brothers had a chemical imbalance and the drugs he had to take to correct that imbalance eventually killed him. But there are plenty of people for which there is no diagnosis. They simply find little joy in living. No matter what hard and difficult things I've faced in life, I've always been happy and for that I'm truly grateful.

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  5. I like them (confession time!). As you imply, any "music fan" knew that they were rubbish and the real vibes were Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, or preferably some unheard of guy who never sold any records and overdosed before he was "discovered" by the intellectuals ... but I think there's also a possibility that you can like all of the above, as well as cheesy pop songs.
    Probably also depends how/when you hear something. The Carpenters were omni-present in my early years - radio, parents collection etc - whereas Bob Dylan wasn't.
    As I say, I think I have varied music tastes and tick many of the boxes on the "groups a real music fan likes", but I love stuff like this - to such an extent that when I fled Thatcher-land back in 1988, of the 5 cassettes I allowed myself to squeeze in the suitcase, one was the Carpenters (lying uneasily beside The Smiths!).

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    1. Brian - I hope that The Smiths and The Carpenters didn't have offspring as a result of that coupling! I hate to think what the resulting music would have been like.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.