Friday Song: Carpenters

The AM sirens of 70’s suburbia remain Carpenters, Karen and Richard (who never wanted “The” put before their name), the good-lookin’ nice kids from Downey, California who were the biggest selling American pop group of the decade. Herb Alpert (yes, that one) signed them to A&M in 1969 and with a hit cover of “Ticket To Ride” their career was born. Their repertoire was comprised of covers and originals culled from folks like Paul Williams, who wrote the song “We’ve Only Just Begun” as a bank jingle turned into a massive hit and one of the most popular wedding songs ever. Karen played drums as well as sang in her appealing mellow voice and Richard acted as the more angelic Swan to her Phoenix. Their most popular LP remains 1973’s “Now And Then,” a musical journey through pop suburbia featuring one of the great album covers of the era, a three-panel fold out of the pair sitting in a Ferrari before their family home in Downey. I can’t think of a more defining image for the brother and sister. The hits came and went, and by 1977, the musical landscape was changing to FM rock and disco and their songs were relegated to the “Adult Contemporary” sections, even though they could still chart unusual hit singles. Unarguably their strangest cover song has to be Klaatu’s “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” which was a minor UK hit for the pair in 1977, and clearly reflected the time’s UFO-CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND mania. The Carpenters were making music videos early on, so thankfully we still have this galactic message that I hope is still bouncing off solar systems beyond, carrying the late Karen Carpenter’s angelic voice and Richard Carpenter’s bombastic orchestrations to a place beyond now and then…

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3 Responses to “Friday Song: Carpenters”

  1. oh, i could listen to karen all day long (and sometimes i do if i’m feeling wistful; if the boy is around he groans, “not that old-lady music!” humph), i guess that makes me a huge dork but i don’t care. her voice does indeed soothe my soul (and not to ignore richard; karen isn’t karen without brother richard there beside her tickling the ivories)

  2. I have never particularly liked the Carpenters, but I have to say that this song has bewitched me.

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