Karen, Why Did You Die?

Posted by M ws On Tuesday, October 16, 2012 0 comments
Her songs and music made me cry when I needed to and sent me to the top of the world in my most delirious moments. She was my idol and I wanted to sing like her, look like her but not die like her. When I was expecting my younger boy in the 1990's, I even won a singing competition held at a five-star hotel singing one of her songs. Her vocal range was like mine and listening/singing her songs made me feel like Karen Carpenter of Penang! :-) As a teeny bopper in the 1970's, a greater part of my pocket money was spent on her singles and long-playing vinyls. Sadly, I gave away my entire vinyl to my neighbour who subsequently threw them away one day. :-( They would be worth a bundle today.

The most precious part of my teenage years was definitely the period when The Carpenters ruled radio space with their moving, musical and enigmatic music. Their distinctive voices, style, music and talent are unmatched even till today. Their music is timeless, meaningful and can tug at heart strings regardless of age, class, gender or barrier.

Indeed, what we can see at their official website HERE is a fitting tribute for rare and incomparable talent:

The Carpenters were an American vocal and instrumental duo, consisting of siblings Karen and Richard Carpenter. Though often referred to by the public as The Carpenters, the duo's official name on authorized recordings and press materials is simply "Carpenters". During a period in the 1970s when louder and wilder rock was in great demand, Richard and Karen produced a distinctively soft musical style that made them among the best-selling music artists of all time.

Carpenters' melodic pop produced a record-breaking run of hit recordings on the American Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts, and they became leading sellers in the soft rock, easy listening and adult contemporary genres. Carpenters had three No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and fifteen No. 1 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart.  In addition, they had twelve top 10 singles (including their No. 1 hits). To date, Carpenters' album and single sales total more than 100 million units.

During their 14-year career, the Carpenters recorded 11 albums, thirty-one singles, five television specials, and a short-lived television series. They toured in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands and Belgium. Their recording career ended with Karen's death in 1983 from cardiac arrest following complications of anorexia nervosa. Extensive news coverage of the circumstances surrounding her death increased public awareness of the consequences of eating disorders.  

One of the elements that made the music of the Carpenters distinctive was Karen's use of her low register. Though present in jazz and country music, there were few contralto singers in popular music at the time. However, Karen had a wide vocal range that spanned about three octaves.[6] As a result of a decided lack of enthusiasm all around for Karen's "head voice", they mostly concentrated on her lower range, i.e. "chest voice" (or her "basement", as Karen called it). "Both Karen and I felt the magic was in her 'chest voice' (a.k.a. 'basement'). There is no comparison in terms of richness in sound, so I wasn't about to highlight the upper voice", states Richard in the "Fans Ask" section of the Carpenters' official website.[6]

Because Karen's magic was in the "basement", Richard always rearranged cover songs and his own songs in a key that would suit her. Many of the Carpenters' songs are located in the keys of D ("You", "There's a Kind of Hush"), E flat ("Only Yesterday"), E ("Hurting Each Other", "Yesterday Once More"), F ("I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), and G ("And When He Smiles", "Reason to Believe", "For All We Know", "You'll Love Me").


When she died, I was completely devastated. Why did she have to die? It is too painful for me to blog about it but do check out THIS LINK that traces the chronology of events that led to her tragic death.

I have friends who suffer from anorexia nervosa and bulimia so I am well aware of the challenges involved. Tragically, Karen suffered at a time when support and medication was not as advanced as what we have today. Yet, prolonged suffering from this debilitating condition can have its fatal effects like what happened to Karen Carpenter.

Their fame was not because of their looks or their voices alone. It was their MUSIC. Their wonderful musicianship and their heavenly harmony. Watch their music videos and see them enjoying themselves playing their favourite instruments so joyously and having a gala musical celebration in a world of notes, chords, percussions and embellishments.

What happens when you let the world's most talented siblings sing the songs of one of the greatest contemporary composers of all time? Well, you get unforgettable combo of The Carpenters singing Bacharach's beautiful melodies in the following video clip which showcases some of my favourite songs including "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" - the one song which has really impacted my life for in my entire life, I have only fallen in love twice! Not the type to swoon at any guy's feet :-).

Thank you for your ageless and ever meaningful music Richard and Karen Carpenter and Burt Bacharach. Your music is timeless and your velvety voice lives on, not just in the air space, cyberspace, vinyls or disks all over the world, but in the hearts of fans like yours truly who love, cherish and always appreciate your music....

I cannot imagine a world without 'Close to You', 'Rainy Days or Mondays', 'Top of the World' and your many classic pop sentimental compositions. Without 'We've Only Just Begun', I do not know what song I would have chosen for the recessional music at the end of my wedding ceremony.

Your voice, Karen Carpenter, put us on top of the world and there you will stay always because none can compare to you, your voice, musicianship or creative musical talent. Rest in peace always...

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