Tag Archives: the carpenters

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?

Music on a Monday // Home Sweet Homes

My TOP TEN songs about house and home.

This playlist is a huge category.  There are soooooo many songs about hearth and home or houses and hometowns.  Quite overwhelming, actually.  I had to leave off another 8 or 9 that I really liked (like “Lucky” Jason Mraz and Colbie Callait – to be used on a future list)  just because I was determined to keep this list at 10.  There is a playlist from YouTube at the end of this blog that includes each of the songs I have written about here.

I’m a home-grown, home-loving, home-girl.  I don’t necessarily mean a house, either.  I mean home the feeling, home the peopleHome.  Sweet home.

LORD, it seems You have been my home forever, from ‘once upon a time,’ to ‘happily ever after,’ (from before the mountains were formed until time is no more), You are God and You have been my God and my home.  Psalm 90.1-2, my paraphrase

Check out my top ten songs and why they made the cut.

#1  Back Home Again, John Denver

Long story, told as sparingly as possible.  The rest are shorter.

Why do I love this song?  There is a whole family story.  I cannot capture it here, but suffice it to say that my brother Joe (yes, that Joe), ran away from home.  My dad had accepted a church far, far away from any home we’d ever known and there was some culture shock and he was a HS freshman and of course, we showed up mid-year, so it is hard.

It tore our family up – days of Joe just missing.  But after the better part of a week, he was found and the police were putting him on a plane and my parents drove to New Orleans to get him and he wasn’t there.  The airline said he hadn’t boarded.   We all mourned even more.  My mom was sick with sorrow.  We assumed he ran again after the police delivered him to the airport.  There was a heavy darkness at our house.

Then a phone call: the flight he’d been on was cancelled – he arrived late (airlines can be dumb).  We all climbed in the Ford Station Wagon and went to get him.  What a relief.  There was much love and my dad took us to a really nice steak house and we feasted on the fatted calf, so to speak.  The son had come home.

It was nearing midnight, I think, as we drove back to Robert, Louisiana, past our school-night bedtime.  The excitement was quieting down and we were just so happy he was there.  The family was settled in listening to the radio, still, as the car hummed along.  Just as we pulled in to the driveway, John Denver’s voice filled the car

There’s a storm across the valley, clouds are rollin’ in

the afternoon is heavy on your shoulders.

There’s a truck out on the four lane, a mile or more away

the whinin’ of his wheels just makes it colder.

He’s an hour away from ridin’ on your prayers up in the sky

and ten days on the road are barely gone.

There’s a fire softly burning; supper’s on the stove

but it’s the light in your eyes that makes him warm.

My dad put the car in park, but none of us moved, not a muscle.  We all sensed the holiness of the moment, the serendipity of this particular song at this distinct second in time…and we just sat there…in the driveway…in the late night – listening, knowing somehow God was blessing the boy coming home.  We listened to every single word and note of that song, almost afraid to even breathe…

It’s the sweetest thing I know of, just spending time with you

it’s the little things that make a house a home.

Like a fire softly burning and supper on the stove.

And the light in your eyes that makes me warm.


Hey, it’s good to be back home again

Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend

Yes, ‘n, hey it’s good to be back home again.

It was a moment barely spoken of for years, for it was too precious.  And it was this monumental transcendent time-fragment we’ll never forget.  Because for all of the fear and sadness and rejoicing those days had brought, that moment became the time we knew we were together, all those miles from our kin and the life we’d known before, and we were home.

And the brother I loved was safe.  My little Joey.

So how could I not love this song?  It’s my number one song about home.

#2  The House that Built Me, Miranda Lambert

This was the Country Music Awards song of the Year in 2011, I believe, maybe 2010.  Such a great song.  It is the story of adult going back to the house she grew up in and asking the owner to let her come inside to look around.  She calls it “the house that built me” because of all the memories of her experiences growing up there.  It immediately, when I heard it, reminded me of 1723 York Street, an address which, if you read this blog, you’ll recognize {the house of my carefree-childhood memories}. A quick search and you will see the address shows up regularly here…I wonder how many times?  :)

And I have always wanted to go back there, to my house-that-built-me and see if I could go through it.  And if the owners now ever stumble on this blog – I hope they won’t think I am crazy.  I hope they’ll just watch the Miranda Lambert video and be able to understand that many-many-many years ago, I was a little girl there, and the memories are sweet and fine.  O, the projects I planned and the dreams I dreamed and adventures I experienced there

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it

This brokenness in me might start healing…

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave

Won’t take nothing but a memory from the house that built me.

#3  Home is Wherever I’m with You, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

This song is so fun-gritty, backwoods-country-AND-modern and did-I-mention: fun.  The sentiment is that “home” is where your “people” are, the ones you love the most, not so much a location and street address.  And that is a true thing!  Cute-cute-cute!

#4  Who Says You Can’t Go Home, Bon Jovi

Well Bon Jovi is a great rocker who wrote and performed this song, which highlighted the work of Habitat for Humanity.  I like him a lot.  Crank it up and roll down the windows and sing loud while you are enjoying your neighborhood.  You can go home again!

#5  I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Carpenters

Everybody and their dog has performed this classic Christmas number.  This song, written about a WWII soldier coming home from war for Christmas, was first recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943.  But then the likes of Amy Grant, Anne Murray and Andy Williams recorded it, too.  Other covers were made by the Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Brad Paisley.  Neil Diamond, Kenny Chesney and Elvis sang it, too.  Hundreds of people have recorded the song and it is a lovely,melancholy tune recalling, with great affection, the beauty of “home.”  It speaks of a longing, a homesickness, that resonates for all of us when we just wish we could be with the people we love, in a place we’re together.

Dave and I were talking about the renditions we heard most growing up.  And though I feel like I heard the Johnny Mathis version a lot, we determined The Carpenters was the primary version we grew up with, that Karen’s haunting voice was the smooth sound that made this song relevant in the 1970s and beyond.  She interpreted well and as far as songs about home, this one has to be in the mix because, Christmas or not – sometimes dreaming and remembering is the only way we actually get to be with our families, our loves.

#6  Home, Phillip Phillips

Phillip Phillips won 2012 American Idol.  He was good and my pick from early on.  He is very earthy and young, but also sort of timeless and seasoned and when the 2 finalists got to pick a song they’d release in case they won and I saw him perform this song, I was like, “O-my-gosh he will positively win this!”  He just killed this song.  In a good way.

And you know how sometimes when you first hear a song it takes a while to grow on you?  This song was not like that. I loved it immediately!  It speaks of some one making a place for you, a home, a safe place.  LOVE it.

Hold on, to me as we go

As we roll down this unfamiliar road

And although this wave is stringing us along

Just know you’re not alone

Cause i’m going to make this place your home


Settle down, it’ll all be clear

Don’t pay no mind to the demons

They fill you with fear

The trouble it might drag you down

If you get lost, you can always be found


Just know you’re not alone

Cause i’m going to make this place your home

#7  Green, Green Grass of Home, Tom Jones

It was the 1960s…and this song just sucked me in. I couldn’t seem to hear it enough back then and the surprise ending got me every. single. time.  Tragic.

#8  Home, Michael Buble

Just smooth and sweet, sung by the super-suave crooner of the day.  He is on the road (trying to write her letters) and and he is missing his love and he just wants to get on the plane and go home.


#9  House of Love, Amy Grant and Vince Gill

They sang this in 1994 way before they married and I do not really understand the official video (the little house thing?), but I just enjoy this hope-filled song.  I had a friend going through a break-up when this was on the charts and this was the song we prayed through.  And it is a fun song to sing and “the lights are coming on in the house of love.”  And they did for my friend!

#10  Taking You Home, Don Henley

The gravely-soulful drummer-boy of the Eagles.  “Take my hand, love, I’m taking you home, Taking you home.”

Come on.  Let’s go home.  :)

Embedded // the WHOLE playlist, in no particular order:

“For me, home is the coming together of my past memories and experiences, of my love for my children, husband and friends;…my optimism tangibly expressed in life-enhacing ways, room by room…” –Alexandra Stoddard

21 Days ’til Christmas ~ Holidays are Joyful!

“The lights on my tree, I wish you could see, I wish it everyday.”

I grew up with very traditional Christmas music.  The 1960’s were when you could purchase an LP for $1.98 at the supermarket full of all the classic songs like “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” and “A Few of My Favorite Things”  by various artists including Johnny Mathis or The Ray Conniff Singers.  Occasionally you’d buy an album by a stand-out like Bing Crosby.  I still treasure the 2 Christmas records I have by him.

“Merry Christmas, Darling,” by the Carpenters was my first sort of non-traditional Christmas pop-song.  I’d hold my dad’s little transistor radio (which I’d snuck from his second dresser drawer) to my ear, and, at barely 11, sing along with Karen, trying with all my heart to understand her longing.

Through the years more and more Christmas music has been added to the songs I love.  Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers have produced some great stuff.  Lee Greenwood sings a couple that always pierce my heart.  The Partridge Family album still makes me laugh and I even enjoy a Motown Christmas.  Harry Connick Jr. is great for seasonal cheery tunes as well as some sacred and I do love the 90’s Mariah Carey album.  And let’s not forget that Amy Grant, is a Christmas-music genius.


Looking Back

But this year, I am feeling very traditional again.  I am reaching back to music I grew up with, the songs my mom played on the Hi-Fi during my early days.  I am less about the pop side of Christmas and anything that has been produced since 1970 and on, and sort of loving melodies that have been recorded so many times no one even remembers who did them first (like “Winter Wonderland”) and some that have been recorded a lot but the first recording is all that matters (like “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby).

The cool thing now is, of course, that “Merry Christmas, Darling” is a classic.  It IS one of the old tried and true songs of the season.  And now I understand the deep sentimentality.  For I wish, if I might “have the wish that I wish for tonight,” to gather everyone I love from near and far together during these long, dark winter nights to laugh and remember, to sing and make merry, to be close and bask in the 6-7000 lights on my tree.  And we could play Karen and sing…

That I wish you a Merry Christmas

Happy New Year, too

I’ve just one wish on this Christmas Eve

I wish I were with you, I wish I were with you. 

Bed space is limited here.  So if you are going to come and see me and make my wishes come true, please call in advance.

pictured: The Moslander family Christmas card, 1968.  Jeanie, Joey, Timmy, Tammy and Danny (Love love love to my siblings!  Please note: I was reading from The Children’s Book of Knowledge – which is why you are all so successful and smart.  You may thank me with a very nice Christmas gift.)