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Karen Carpenter - Forty Years On (1 Viewer)

RMajidi

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Is that how one says it? As simply as that. "Mark Antony is dead. Lord Antony is dead." "The soup is hot; the soup is cold." "Mark Antony is living; Mark Antony is dead." Shake with terror when such words pass your lips… Dying, of such a man, must be shouted, screamed! It must echo back from the corners of the universe. "Antony is dead! Mark Antony of Rome lives no more!"

I have a sense of what Roddy McDowall”s Octavian meant with these words, having read in early February 1983 a tiny side-article inside Perth’s afternoon paper, The Daily News, about the passing of Karen Carpenter.

This shattering disruption to my world should have been shouted from every rooftop and emblazoned across the front page of every news service, but here in my new home so far away from my adopted England and all my friends, I discovered in a few cold and unfeeling lines, which focussed mainly on the nature of the illness, that this warm and infinitely expressive personage was no more, and that voice was stilled.

I was grief-stricken.

Forty years later, I still get upset when I remember the emptiness and pain of that moment.

But in order to convey a proper context for these feelings, let’s go back a further decade, sometime in 1973, when I was nine, my brother two years senior somehow got The Carpenters Now and Then on cassette tape while we were still living in our birthplace - pre-revolution Iran.

He and I were enemies. I objected to his underhanded malevolence. He objected to my birth. So, it was understood that everything he liked I was duty-bound to loathe, and vice-versa. I was all set to hate everything about The Carpenters.

He played that cassette deck on our family car trip from Tehran to Nawshahr on the Caspian Sea - an excruciatingly long, winding drive through treacherous mountain roads. It was the sense of imminent death on blind turns miles high above rocky ravines that made Deadman’s Curve as sung by Richard strike an immediate chord with me. My English language skills were poor, but I knew what a curve was and I also knew what dead-man meant.

Deadman’s crash sounds medley’d seamlessly into Johnny Angel, awakening me to the sweetest sound I had heard in my tender years - the voice of sister Karen. Miraculous - not just the voice, but also the concept of two siblings not only able to stand each other, but working together to make beautiful music!

He played that tape endlessly on that trip, and we all learned to mimic the songs, even though we didn’t understand what most of the words meant. Yesterday Once More became an instant favourite, as did the whole cassette.

My lifelong love affair with the music of The Carpenters, and Karen’s voice was kindled in those mountain passes of northern Iran.

Recently, I read an article that said the song that meant most to Karen was I Need To Be In Love. Funnily enough, that is the song I came to intuitively relate to Karen’s personality and also related to myself.

‘I know I ask perfection of a quite imperfect world, and fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find.’



No longer with us. With us forever.

Please feel welcome to share your own stories of The Carpenters, Karen, Richard, your favourite of their songs, what they’ve meant to you…
 

Mysto

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marv long
There are many great lady singers. But for most - if you hear an unfamiliar song you have to think - is that...
Never with Karen. She is among those few with a unique voice you recognize instantly. A voice that could melt butter. I would have loved to see what she would have accomplished in those missing 40 years.
 

Joel Arndt

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Wow! I can't believe it's been 40 years now. Beautifully written reminiscence Ramin. I have nothing that personal that ties me to The Carpenters, however, I've always been a fan with the exception of a few years in the late 70s when I was a teen and didn't think they were cool. Fortunately, my taste improved by the time I was in college and purchased Made in America when it was first released.

Undeniably, Karen Carpenter had one of the most beautiful voices in the industry, so thank God we still have her recordings. She was an accomplished drummer, also. Favorite song? That's a tough one because there are so many good ones out there, but I'll mention Merry Christmas, Darling.

RIP Karen. You were with us for only a short time physically, but your legacy lives on. Thanks for all the wonderful music.
 

English Patient

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Jan 26, 2014
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Joseph
Karen's voice is easily the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. In her version of "(They Long to Be) Close to You," she can effortlessly convey flirtatious innocence, sensual longing and wistful world-weariness in the span of a few notes. Her vocals on "Solitaire" are breathtaking and chilling, with an eerie controlled intensity; it's like you're hearing a voice not of this earth.
 

ChristopherG

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Chris
Is that how one says it? As simply as that. "Mark Antony is dead. Lord Antony is dead." "The soup is hot; the soup is cold." "Mark Antony is living; Mark Antony is dead." Shake with terror when such words pass your lips… Dying, of such a man, must be shouted, screamed! It must echo back from the corners of the universe. "Antony is dead! Mark Antony of Rome lives no more!"

I have a sense of what Roddy McDowall”s Octavian meant with these words, having read in early February 1983 a tiny side-article inside Perth’s afternoon paper, The Daily News, about the passing of Karen Carpenter.

This shattering disruption to my world should have been shouted from every rooftop and emblazoned across the front page of every news service, but here in my new home so far away from my adopted England and all my friends, I discovered in a few cold and unfeeling lines, which focussed mainly on the nature of the illness, that this warm and infinitely expressive personage was no more, and that voice was stilled.

I was grief-stricken.

Forty years later, I still get upset when I remember the emptiness and pain of that moment.

But in order to convey a proper context for these feelings, let’s go back a further decade, sometime in 1973, when I was nine, my brother two years senior somehow got The Carpenters Now and Then on cassette tape while we were still living in our birthplace - pre-revolution Iran.

He and I were enemies. I objected to his underhanded malevolence. He objected to my birth. So, it was understood that everything he liked I was duty-bound to loathe, and vice-versa. I was all set to hate everything about The Carpenters.

He played that cassette deck on our family car trip from Tehran to Nawshahr on the Caspian Sea - an excruciatingly long, winding drive through treacherous mountain roads. It was the sense of imminent death on blind turns miles high above rocky ravines that made Deadman’s Curve as sung by Richard strike an immediate chord with me. My English language skills were poor, but I knew what a curve was and I also knew what dead-man meant.

Deadman’s crash sounds medley’d seamlessly into Johnny Angel, awakening me to the sweetest sound I had heard in my tender years - the voice of sister Karen. Miraculous - not just the voice, but also the concept of two siblings not only able to stand each other, but working together to make beautiful music!

He played that tape endlessly on that trip, and we all learned to mimic the songs, even though we didn’t understand what most of the words meant. Yesterday Once More became an instant favourite, as did the whole cassette.

My lifelong love affair with the music of The Carpenters, and Karen’s voice was kindled in those mountain passes of northern Iran.

Recently, I read an article that said the song that meant most to Karen was I Need To Be In Love. Funnily enough, that is the song I came to intuitively relate to Karen’s personality and also related to myself.

‘I know I ask perfection of a quite imperfect world, and fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find.’



No longer with us. With us forever.

Please feel welcome to share your own stories of The Carpenters, Karen, Richard, your favourite of their songs, what they’ve meant to you…

Such a great post - thanks for sharing your story.
 

Scott Merryfield

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That's a wonderful reminiscence, @RMajidi . There is not much that I can add to what has already been said by others, but I concur that Karen Carpenter had one of the most beautiful voices I've experienced. I still enjoy the music from her and brother Richard to this day. She was a special talent that left us way too soon.
 

BobO'Link

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I regret to this day that, as a JR, our HS prom committee didn't press the sponsors harder. We could have hired The Carpenters to play at the JR/SR Prom for ~$3000 (just over $21,000 today - still a paltry sum for such an act). We had the money. The adults wouldn't let us spend it on them...
 
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Keith Cobby

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Wonderful, unique voice, a sad and untimely loss. Just a personal view but I always thought she was pushed too hard by her brother, it was nonstop work. I'm sure that while she enjoyed making music and entertaining everyone, she wanted an ordinary family life. From the many interviews I've seen with Richard Carpenter over the decades, there is something unpleasant about him.
 

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