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Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Tony, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. There are a number of Moody Blues compilations. It would probably be a good idea to grab any one of those to sample the hits to see if you like them. After that, their core seven albums are all considered classics, starting with DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED.

    They have entries in the Universal GOLD series, ICON, ICON2, 20th Century Masters, and various greatest hits/best of's released over the years. Pick one up for not a lot of money and sample them.

    byline likes this.
  2. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Cheers, Harry and Song4U
  3. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    Harry's suggestions are good. I really like live performances myself. YouTube has a zillion of them. In more recent years i like the their Hall of Fame album which is a live recording of a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. You can find bits of it on YouTube. I enjoy watching Justin Hayward play guitar and his expressions as the orchestra plays his composition behind them of Nights in White Satin. Some people refer to their sound as "symphonic rock". I call it "awesome". :wink:
    byline likes this.
  4. ringves

    ringves Active Member

    Speaking of "Days of Future Passed", arranger/orchestrator Peter Knight played a major role on that release. So there is a bit of a Carpenters connection there.
    byline likes this.
  5. byline

    byline Active Member

    Days of Future Passed was one of those albums my parents allowed to be played because of its dreamy, Debussy-style arrangements courtesy of the aforementioned Peter Knight. So I'm very familiar with it, and love it to this day (especially the iconic "Nights in White Satin"). The narration still gives me chills. Here's a link to the full album.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2014
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Randy Schmidt chronicles Karen Carpenter’s success, tragedy in “Little Girl Blue”
    July 3, 2011

    Nearly 30 years after her death, Karen Carpenter’s voice is among the most instantly recognizable in the pop music pantheon. Love it or loathe it, you can hear it right now, can’t you?
    Karen and Richard Carpenter seemed oddly out of time with their generation — too clean-cut Connecticut for the Southern California music scene. Talent trumped embarrassment, though, as new fans slinked into record stores and bought Carpenters albums by the millions.
    In conducting hundreds of interviews over eight years, the author gained some interesting insights into her music. And he struggled to make sense of the deeply creepy family dysfunction that haunted her life. Since cooperating with an “authorized” biography in 1994, Richard Carpenter has said virtually nothing about his sister’s personal life. He declined to be interviewed for Schmidt’s book but didn’t actively fight the project.
    At the low point of her anorexia, Karen Carpenter weighed less than 80 pounds. Now that anorexia and other eating disorders have become such a part of the popular lexicon — either as unofficial diagnosis or as punch line — it’s difficult to remember what unknown territory it was in the 1980s. As hard as it is now to fathom how she could have wasted away to the point of death, it was far more mystifying then
    After finding little solace in her own life, Karen Carpenter’s recorded legacy still strikes a chord. And in this life story, her strangely optimistic yet mournful voice joins a timeless chorus of cautionary tales about the tragic excesses and limitations of stardom.

    djn likes this.
  7. Wonder whether Richard has got one copy himself to try and read.
  8. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I've often thought that. If he did, I doubt he got past the first line..."I want you to know I did not kill my daughter". I always thought that was an electrifying way to open a book and kudos to Randy for having the courage to do it. An intriguing read from cover to cover.
    Song4uman likes this.
  9. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    I would think those closest to her would have read it a little at a time. It was a bit overwhelming.
  10. You think so? You do know your own mother, don't you, one would assume he knew his, LOL. Although the lyrics to Because we are in love were really a strange deal considering the facts contained in the book. Or maybe he had just taken on the music and not touched the lyrics. Nevertheless weird... and for the worst Karen did sing them, sometimes I get myself thinking "these people were just nuts".

    I loved the opening as well, you simply have to have the balls and the guts to do anything that's remarkable in any area.
  11. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    I remember reading that Richard did read the book, and he said the writer did his homework, in so many words.
  12. How flattering! Wonder whether Randy Schmidt will continue to pursue the writer's path. More biographies?? Perhaps some fiction?? Essays, chronicles, whatever!
  13. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    I can verify that Richard has read the book. Whereas it's well out of his comfort zone, it's been cited that there was nothing libelous in any way which is why he never tried to have it pulled from distribution.
    byline likes this.
  14. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    Randy just published one on Judy Garland and has another in mind that he's been trying to pursue but the family of the artist is still a bit apprehensive.
    byline likes this.
  15. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    His name is BJ and he is living down in Florda. He's a recording engineer (most notably with the Trans Siberian Orchestra) and has more or less followed in his father's footsteps! As far as the Leffler family, Randy would know better than I as he stays in contact with Frenda from time-to-time. Here is a pic of BJ with his dad :)

    BJ & Phil.jpg
  16. "BJ" is not a NAME but I get it, he looks just likes his mom! For some reason I got touched by seeing this picture, Karen was so enthusiastic about his birth, buying Itchie all that baby stuff... isn't it wonderful about life that people are not even born yet and yet they are loved?? Oh... Karen never did get to nanny him... play with him... sing to him... this sole thing has got me more melancholic about her fate than the dozens of records she could not make...

    Out on the ocean sailing away
    I can hardly wait
    To see you come of age
    But I guess we'll both just have to be patient
    'Cause it's a long way to go
    A hard row to hoe
    Yes it's a long way to go...

    Still one day it's gonna be BJ who's going to be an old mister (if he's lucky) just like his dad... and "there'll be one child born in this world to carry on" as he leaves. This is a mysterious, intriguing, beautiful universe.
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Audio Interview with Randy Schmidt:
    Definitive authors of the American soft rock sound, brother-sister duo Carpenters were the number-one selling musical act of the 1970s. But behind their smooth-and-easy sound, destructive forces were lurking.
    Today, we hear how family tension and a severe eating disorder claimed the life of singer Karen Carpenter at age 32. We’re joined by Randy Schmidt , author of the new biography Little Girl Blue: The Life Of Karen Carpenter
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    A rather long Book Review from PopMatters, some excerpts:
    It's Yesterday Once More in 'Little Girl Blue'
    By Zachary Houle 1 September 2011
    "You might be wondering if what the world really needs is yet another biography of Karen Carpenter, the drummer, singer and adorable front-woman of the saccharinely sweet ‘70s soft rock brother-sister duo, the Carpenters.."
    "Randy L. Schmidt – in his relative new, shockingly unauthorized biography of the seemingly wholesome Karen Carpenter – takes great pains to point out that writers who attempted to surmount the topic of her gradual and tragic decline were more or less bound at the wrists to whitewash certain details of the family’s professional and private life. Therefore, it seems that Schmidt’s Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter
    which was originally released in 2010 as a hardcover, and is now making its paperback debut – is anything short of a miracle.
    It’s a book that plumbs directly into Carpenter’s personal life by compiling interviews with some of her friends and closest confidants,
    some of whom were reluctant to talk about her life prior to the author’s probing."
    "However, the Carpenters were never really a cool band. Record store clerks would turn up their nose if you came to the counter with a Carpenters record, rock critics abhorred the band, and any enduring popularity that the group has attained since their heyday seems almost ironic. (Sonic Youth, it should be noted, are big fans having contributed a cover of “Superstar” to a ‘90s tribute album and recorded the homage “Tunic (Song For Karen)” on 1990’s Goo.) Beneath the shiny and rubbed-down veneer of the impeccable songcraft, though, you get Karen’s voice: a soft, mellow cadence that calls out to the angels of heaven."
    "Of course, Little Girl Blue leaves us with more questions than actual answers."
    "Still, Little Girl Blue is a powerful and absorbing book."

    Complete Review Here:
  19. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Why is it shocking that it's unauthorised?
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    And, another: (Excerpts from)
    NYTimes Book Review

    Sorrow in Her Voice
    Published: August 6, 2010

    "The Carpenters were a sister and brother who lived with their parents in a West Coast suburb.
    Karen sang lead; Richard played keyboards, multitracked his voice into an electronic choral blur and arranged with an obsessive ear for perfection."
    "Cool they weren’t. As Randy L. Schmidt points out in “Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter,”
    one critic called their music “polite plastic pop.”
    "Yet it was Karen who cut through the act’s gloss and gave it humanity. Her supple, pitch-perfect sweet-and-sour voice was so wistful and
    sincere that it made listeners want to protect her."
    "Just how delicate she was became painfully clear by the mid-’70s, when audiences watched her wither away before their eyes."
    "The Carpenters’ story appeared custom-made for “Behind the Music,” and in 1998, an episode of that VH1 series
    purported to tell the whole grisly truth. But the show, which seemed authorized by Richard, stepped blindly around Karen’s demons; the family assumed no blame."
    "It’s hard for Schmidt to inject much life into the family’s dry beginnings, but once the Carpenters land a deal with A&M Records in 1969, the pace picks up dramatically."
    "Karen teamed with Phil Ramone, a star producer, to work on a solo album. Ramone encouraged her to record sexier, more mature songs;
    she even took a stab at disco. Karen’s excitement soared, then turned to devastation when she faced the appalled reactions of A&M and Richard."
    "The endurance of the music helps brighten the ending. Whoever thought that a duo who epitomized vanilla would one day enthrall some of the coolest indie artists?
    In his 1987 movie “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” the experimental filmmaker Todd Haynes used a cast of Barbie-style dolls to depict Karen as the pawn of a selfish family and recording industry. (Richard had the film withdrawn over copyright issues.)
    In “If I Were a Carpenter,” a CD from 1994, alternative rockers attempted unconventional covers of the duo’s hits.
    The original “Close to You” album was reinterpreted in a 2007 concert by the gender-bending singer and monologuist Justin Bond, formerly Kiki of Kiki and Herb, the punk-inspired cult act.
    Now comes this compassionate book, which gives a tortured waif the third dimension she deserved."

    Source/Complete Article Here:
  21. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Interesting that this gets singled out for a mention. I thought the VH1 special was really good, but only because it was one of the first we got, so there was relatively little to compare it with. Here we pick up the VH1 story at the point where Karen met Tom:


    The only other documentary I can recall seeing it before it was the 1996 BBC documentary called 'Yesterday Once More' which, despite featuring new interviews with the likes of Agnes, was bland and boring beyond belief.

    Synopsis here: http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/e04a57ac110e47f0bd2fed5fd78af192
  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    And, here is the VH1 Blurb for the documentary:
    1. In 1970 The Carpenters won the Best New Artist Grammy, and for five years it seemed as though they were indeed on "Top of the World" as song after song continued to ride up the charts. Easy listening lovers of all generations found the clean-cut combo's orchestrated melodies and Karen's warm voice irresistible; even President Richard Nixon was a fan. But behind the smiles and the string of soft pop hits is the tragic tale of a woman whose quest for love and acceptance led to anorexia and finally, death at 32. In 1983 Karen Carpenter suffered a fatal heart attack while seemingly on the road to recovery, leaving Richard alone to mourn the loss of his sister and all the songs that would never happen. Now happily married and back on the road performing Carpenters songs to adoring fans, Richard reminisces about their early jazz trio, and speaks frankly about his past addiction to pain killers. Singers Olivia Newton-John and Dionne Warwick pay tribute to Karen's talent."
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    "..... their bestsellers I’m with the Band, Little Girl Blue, and Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure...."
    Volume 260 Issue 47 11/25/2013
    Chicago Review Press Hits Major Milestone
    orty years ago this fall, a University of Chicago graduate student named Curt Matthews and his wife, Linda Matthews, founded Chicago Review Press, naming it after the Chicago Review literary journal, for which Curt was then poetry editor. Operating initially out of the couple’s basement, CRP’s debut releases included Spring and Asura by Miyazawa Kenji, a collection of contemporary Japanese poetry in translation, and what might have been the first graphic novel: Prairie State Blues by Bill Bergeron.
    A lot has happened at CRP since; today, the press is housed in a 22,000-sq.-ft. former bicycle factory in Chicago’s River North district, and while it has more than 650 titles in its backlist, it no longer publishes poetry or graphic novels. If its books—in a variety of nonfiction genres—have one quality in common, it’s that they are all “quirky” and “smart,” said company representatives. This year, CRP will release 65 titles across four imprints: its flagship imprint, Chicago Review Press, which publishes nonfiction titles for both adults and children; Lawrence Hill Books, which publishes nonfiction with African-American themes; Ball Publishers, which publishes gardening books; and Zephyr Press, which publishes professional development titles and resource materials for parents.
    In 2012, CRP had revenue of about $6 million, and sales are up 12% so far this year. In the year to date, e-books represent 18% of revenue, up from 14% for all of last year and 7% in 2011. “I think we’re poised for even more growth,” said CRP publisher Cynthia Sherry, noting that when she joined the press in 1989, CRP considered itself “very regional,” and was committed to publishing “the best of the Midwest,” with about 10 releases each season.
    Sherry said that the press now intends to release 75 titles per year. While 40% of CRP’s authors are new to the publisher, a number of them, including William Gurstelle and Bill Adler Jr., have published multiple books with the press, including its top two sellers: Gurstelle’s Backyard Ballistics has sold 350,000 copies, and Adler’s Outwitting Squirrels has sold 300,000 copies. Gurstelle’s next book, Defending Your Castle, will be published by CRP in spring 2014, as will an updated third edition of Outwitting Squirrels, which was originally published in 1988.
    With the reputation we’ve built up over the last 40 years, we’re able to attract authors of a higher caliber,” Sherry explained. “Agents realize we can sell books.” For instance, she said, First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School by Alison Stewart, an August release, has sold more than 9,000 copies to date, and its author has been interviewed on national radio and television stations, including NPR, MSNBC, and PBS.
    Among the most important developments in CRP’s history was the 1987 acquisition of Independent Publisher Group. IPG, founded in 1971, distributes books for more than 800 companies, including CRP. The distributor has gone through its own tremendous changes recently. Last year, its longtime president, Mark Suchomel, was laid off and the company subsequently underwent a corporate restructuring. Mark Voigt, IPG’s v-p of sales, and Joe Matthews, IPG’s COO (and Curt and Linda’s son), currently oversee operations there. Although IPG will lose 20 publishers, including two of its largest accounts, at the end of 2013, sales “are up a little bit over last year,” Joe said. He noted that the gains reflect the addition of 40 publishers, steady growth in sales to the academic market, and increases in sales of Spanish-language books.
    As CRP celebrates its longevity and steady growth, there is also change on the horizon: Linda, who manages IPG’s human resources department, intends to retire at the end of the year. She will, however, remain on CRP’s board of directors, and will continue as secretary of Chicago Review Press Inc.—CRP and IPG’s parent company. Curt has no plans to retire just yet; he’ll continue on as CEO of Chicago Review Press Inc. Joe said that Curt isn’t “as hands-on as he was 20 years ago,” but that “he’s a very smart guy, who started his own small press and his own distribution company. We hope to have his wisdom for a very long time. All the pieces are in place, when Curt decides to go.”

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