It’s about time I made another one of those videos where I film myself in the act of recording a song piece by piece and then edit it into something that resembles a music video. I’d also like to write something long and profanity-laden about what can happen when you make the mistake of leaving your artistic legacy in the hands of someone who has no understanding of your art and no interest in acting in any way that actually honours you or what you did while you were alive (even though I already kind of did that way back in this blog’s infancy). Not that I would know from personal experience, since I’m not dead yet, unless someone is playing out a very elaborate practical joke at my expense. It’s just a good excuse for an extended rant, and I think I’m overdue for one of those.
Neither of those things will be happening just yet, though. Right now, I think some Karen Carpenter is called for.
Say what you will about the Carpenters. A lot of the songs and arrangements were and are undeniably cheesy. But that voice cuts through all the bullshit. There’s never been another like it.
Whoever made the decision to force Karen out from behind the drums to sing in the spotlight should be shot. And if they’re no longer living, they should be brought back to life, berated, and then shot. She was comfortable behind those drums, and she could play the hell out of them. No less a musician than Buddy Rich said she was one of his favourite drummers. Maybe, just maybe, if she had been allowed to carve out an identity as a drummer who sang instead of a singer who sometimes played the drums, she would have felt more secure, and she’d still be here.
It’s a big “if”. But it’s something to think about.
As unusual as the Todd Haynes film Superstar: the Karen Carpenter Story is, if you can get past the novelty of the entire cast being made up of Barbie Dolls I think it probably captures more of what Karen’s life was really like than any authorized biography or TV movie ever has. I made the mistake of watching it for the first time a few years ago just before I went to bed, and I had a hell of a time getting to sleep.
That’s right. A film with Barbie Dolls in place of people almost gave me nightmares as an adult. I’m not sure what that tells you, but you’ve just been told.