Musical Inspiration: Karen Carpenter

23 Mar

I looked through the previous music posts and I cannot believe I have not talked about Karen Carpenter before! My favourite musicians change all the time, and right now The Carpenters (a duo of Karen and her brother) are my favourite and my favourite composer is Telemann.

Who the hell is Karen Carpenter?

Karen Carpenter was a drummer and an American pop singer in the 60s, 70s and 80s before her extremely tragic death in 1983 aged 32. She was part of the pop duo The Carpenters with her brother for most of her musical career but also played in several bands (usually including her brother) playing the drums. Together The Carpenters created a whole new sound, the started to get popular between the eras of The Beatles and the singer-songwriters of the 70’s. Their first international hit was “(They long to be) Close to you” which climbed to #2 in the American Billboard Top 100 in May 1970. They toured extensively and broke the record for the highest grossing tour in Britian. She was about to launch a solo singing career before her death. Karen suffered from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder and a serious mental illness, for all of her musical career and her death was caused by complications of the illness.

Why Karen Carpenter is one of my favourite singers?

The best way for me to tell you why I love Karen Carpenter and her music so much is to show you!

Here is Karen Carpenter singing Rainy Days and Mondays (which is my favourite) live at the BBC in 1971.


And here is one of the songs on Karen’s solo album that was never completed and was realesed after her death.



If you listen to Karen singing and close your eyes it sounds like she right behind you singing to your soul. So many times listening to her voice just made me cry so much. Her voice was so full of emotion and depth especially towards the end of her life, the lyrics are not particularly moving but she gives them much more meaning. Most of the time I think her voice sounds incredibly sad and full of grief even when she is singing happy songs but that might be because when I think of Karen I think of her life; how unhappy she must have been with herself and how her death and illness may have been prevented by proper treatment and understanding of illnesses like anorexia. She was the #94 in the Rolling Stones Best Singer Of All Time list but in my opinion she should have been at least in the top 10.


Here is Karen doing a drum solo in The Carpenters first TV special in 1976

Here is the full concert The Carpenters did in London, 1971. Karen’s skirt is AMAAAAAAAAAZIN


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