Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Anniversary of a Tragedy

There was a lot of people quietly noting yesterday as the 50th Anniversary of The Day the Music Died and it is proper to remember the fine musicians who died in that tragedy, but today was the 26th anniversary of another musical tragedy.

26 years ago today a woman named Agnes Carpenter heard a noise in the room where her daughter, Karen Carpenter, had been sorting through old clothes and was now getting ready for a busy day. Karen was lying on the floor and never regained consciousness.

I did not realize the magnitude of this tragedy until several years later when I began to realize just how incredibly talented this lady was. As a human woman she had her flaws, but most of the people who knew her liked her and until anorexia nervosa had taken its toll she was full of energy and life. She could sing just about any style of music and her recordings included mellow music, 40s style swing music, old time rock and roll, country western, traditional Christmas Carols and general pop. To my knowledge she never recorded heavy metal but those who knew her said that she could sing to it as well and amongst friends sometimes did.

Not only was she unequaled as a vocalist, but she was considered an extraordinarily gifted drummer as well, and from what I understand she enjoyed playing the drums more than she enjoyed singing.

No she was not a beauty queen, but before anorexia devastated her appearance, only a fool would have said that she was not attractive, and she possessed a rare gift that no bikini model that I know of could have ever begun to even dream of. She could sing circles around almost any other singer and I could only name maybe half a dozen female vocalists who could even hold a candle to her, OK maybe 7 or 8 with the most recent one being Celine Dion with the closest being Whitney Houston or Patty Page. Such a voice comes along maybe once a decade. While her voice will not be raised on earth again until the resurrection, may she amongst us, but recordings of her voice will be heard as long as there are humans and recording devices.

Update Donald Douglas also has a tribute to Karen Carpenter and gives me a H/T which I am returning.


Blogger christian soldier said...

Her voice is one of the best--sad that she felt she had to be very thin in order to fit in ...

3:21 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I always loved her music, Shoprat, and I agree she was among the very best. It's tragic the way she died. I thought she was also beautiful but I saw her from a woman's perspective. It's tragic that she died in such a manner.

My other very favorite female vocalist, Judy Garland, also died needlessly. Both of their deaths were self afflicted. It's sad.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I believe I should have said "self-inflicted."

3:45 PM  
Blogger Average American said...

You brought back some great memories Shoprat. The carpenters were one of my favorites.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Larry T. Durham said...

Nice tribute. Karen had the voice of an angel.

7:45 PM  
Blogger I.H.S. said...

That was a nice tribute, shoprat. I don't remember a lot of her songs but bits and pieces filter through if I think hard enough.


9:10 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

She had an incredible voice.

Anorexia is a horrible disease. I have seen young ladies come in decimated by it.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Wonderful tribute to a lovely, talented lady, Shoprat..thanks!

12:01 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Very nice tribute; thanks for reminding us of what a great person the world lost.

I grew up on 8 tracks in the car of The Carpenters, Ray Conniff Singers, John Denver, among a few others.

When I was in high school in the 80's, I bought every Carpenters album on audio cassette.

Her voice just sends me into orbit.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

I get a little depressed every time I hear her on the radio. Thank God her recordings survive.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Ducky's here said...

Did she ever do any recording that featured her on percussion?

2:26 PM  
Blogger Z said...

My band in college did a LOT of her stuff for wedding/dance gigs.......

She had a very special voice and they had some fantastic, haunting songs. Thanks for a wonderful tribute, Shoprat.

Pasadena's right..I kind of get that feeling, sad that had to happen.

6:13 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

All thanks.

Ducky I don't know about percussion but here is segment from one of their specials showing her talent on the drums

10:07 PM  
Blogger benning said...

I always enjoyed listening to The Carpenters. Thanks for the reminder, Shoprat!

6:05 AM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I have every recording she ever made.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Karen Carpenter had one of the most recognizable and unique voices in popular music. When she began to sing, you knew immediately "Hey! That's Karen Carpenter."

I don't have all the vinyls, but I have most of them.

I've heard that her death due to anorexia helped to bring to the fore the ravages of that disorder. I hope so because that would be another of Karen Carpenter's legacies.

Shoprat, thanks for the reminder of a star who died far too young.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Truly tragic - thanks for the tribute.

2:47 PM  
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