Music on a Monday // My Fav Carpenter’s Songs

the carpenters cassette

Karen Carpenter would be 63 if she were alive today.  Oh wow-she was THE voice.  When I first started diving into the pop music scene, I was ten, and I’d sneak my dad’s little leather-encased transitior radio outside and turn the buttons just so until I found the station and there it was: Close to You, and Bless the Beasts and the Children, both charting at that time.  I’d hold it my ear as I sat in the tire swing as evening fell and her smooth voice just enchanted me, took me to a magical, romantic place.

transistor radio

I found this image of a transistor that was already sold on ebay.  I think my dad won his in a contest at work and I am almost positive it was this exact model!

The Carpenters had such a mellow, beautiful, soft sound, it is almost a miracle, during the changing times then, with Woodstock, drugs and the 70s, that they’d be so successful.  But Karen’s voice was like butter, so smooth, so low….I LOVED that because I was an alto.  She became my hero, so easy to sing with.

Honestly, it would be harder for me to list 5 of their songs that I don’t care for, because I can’t think of any.  But I decided that if I was going to make a list of 10, I’d just have to let the songs that come to mind first be the ones I list.  Because on a different day – the list could be considerably changed and still be true, still be my top ten favorites.

For I love the first song I ever heard them sing (“Close to You”) the best, because it was the first.  But I also find their cover of the Beatle’s “Ticket to Ride” just hauntingly beautiful.  How did they have the nerve to do a Beatles song so soon and how was it able to be fully theirs and so amazing? And “It’s Gonna Take Some Time This Time,” was so picturesque, so beautiful in words, bending trees and wisdom on living through hard stuff and how you can learn something from everything, even the heartbreaks.

“Touch Me While We’re Dancing,” and “I Know I Need to be in Love” are also wonderful-wonderful-wonderful!

Oh-oh-oh-oh – as you know, one of my all-time ever fav songs is “Merry Christmas, Darling,” but I am not adding it here.  Because it is a Christmas song.  And a song about home and it has made other lists. But you know I LOVE it!

There were even post-humous releases, after Karen’s shocking death in 1983.  “Make Believe it’s Your First Time,” and “Now,” among others.  Richard has released more material as recently as 2001, including the much-recorded,  “The Rainbow Connection,” and, as if no one else had ever recorded it, it is pure Karen.  Just beautiful.

SO MUCH good music.  I have taught my kids to appreciate the Carpenters.  Sometimes we still play the vinyl albums.

karen and riichard carpenter

Here is my list.  Ten of my favorite Carpenter’s songs {not necessarily in order}, out of so many more favorites:

Hey-I finally got on Spotify and it is awesome! {The first track doesn’t work, but it is listed again later.  Ignore it and listen to these amazing songs!}  IF YOU ONLY LISTEN TO ONE, listen to “Good-Bye to Love.”  Her voice is just UH-mazzzzzzzzing!

  1. Close to You //Why do birds suddenly appear everytime you are near?  Just like me they long to be close to you.”  This is a happy song of the general sense of well-being we get when we are loved and in love.  Bright. Joyful.  So sweet.  The song just skips down the sunlit street of happiness.  Hear the birds chirping, figuratively, anyway?
  2. Good-Bye to Love // I was 11 and just loved (and sang along with great fervor) the dip-scoop of the melody, “I’ll say good-bye to love…no one ever cared if I should live or die...”  Haha.  It also appealed to the deep drama in the heart of a prepubescent girl – already longing for the love of her life to appear.
  3. Superstar // The funnest lyrics to sing ever:  “Baby-baby-baby-baby-oh-baby…”  :)  Actually, this song is so haunting and full of longing, “Long ago and oh so far away, I fell in love with you before the second show.  Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear, but you’re not really here, it’s just the radio...”  See?  Doesn’t this work in a way it almost couldn’t now?  Because it would be “You’re not really here, it’s just Pandora or Spotify or live steaming or an online station or YouTube or iTunes or…?  “Come back to me again and play your sad guitar…”  *sigh*
  4. Hurting Each Other //Closer than the leaves on a weeping willow, baby, we are…”  I mean – songs that have lyrics that can create a picture like this in your mind just stand the test of time!
  5. Rainy Days and Mondays // “…always get me down.” Melancholy at its’ absolute finest.  And if it’s Monday AND it’s raining, then I probably will be found, “Talking to myself and feelin’ old,” but don’t worry – “…we know what it’s all about…”
  6. Yesterday Once More //  Sweet. “When I was young I’d listen to the radio waitin’ for my favorite songs. When they played I’d sing along, it made me smile…” For me, this is a true story.  Music is everywhere now, you don’t have to wait for your favorite songs on commercial radio.  But as this song goes, when I hear an old song from past times, “Those old melodies still sound so good to me as they melt the years away. Every sha-la-la-la, Every wo-o-wo-o, still shines…”  Memories in music are the deepest and sweetest.
  7. I Won’t Last a Day Without You // Dave sang this to me at our wedding.  Before that, it was just another in a long line of beautiful Carpenter’s songs, in the hit-after-hit line-up they had going.  But Steve Hellwig played, and Dave sang, holding my hands and looking straight into my eyes.  That was 32 years ago (in 8 days).   “It’s nice to know that you’ll be there if I need you, and you’ll always smile, it’s all worthwhile...” I hope he still thinks that.  :)
  8. Bless the Beasts and the Children // This is a universal song about just being nice, about covering and caring for little children and helpless animals.  Just be nice.  Live here and protect the world God created.  “Give them love, let it shine all around them…”
  9. For All We Know // I wonder if there was a wedding between 1971 and 1985 that didn’t have this played or sung?  Quintessential wedding song!
  10. We’ve Only Just Begun // Rolling Stone Magazine included this as one of their top 500 songs of all time.  Ok-if there was a wedding between 1971 and 1985 that didn’t include #9, I bet they used this song!  “We’ve only just begun to live, white lace and promises.  A kiss for luck and we’re on our way. We’ve only begun…”

Karen was the {most amazing} voice, Richard, the genius behind the production and arrangements, the lyrics and the clear-cut direction they had musically.  Smooth, clear, timeless songs, a sound that flows like a clear mountain stream through the 70s soundtrack of my heart and soul, their deeply felt and beautifully communicated music will always be important and very high on the songlist of my life.  From a transistor radio to 45s and LPs, to 8-tracks to boom boxes and stereos, to digital, I love the Carpenters!  Always have, always will.

*Free as a song, singin’ forever…

Oh, and is it just my imagination?

1 thought on “Music on a Monday // My Fav Carpenter’s Songs

  1. Karen was multi-talented. She played piano and drums, too. I saw them at Tahoe back in the mid-70s, and she was amazing. She even came out on stage riding a motorcycle. Completely unforgettable duo.

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