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Battle of the Biographies

Which Carpenters biography is best ?

  • "The Carpenters: The Untold Story" - Ray Coleman

    Votes: 9 26.5%
  • "Little Girl Blue: The Life Of Karen Carpenter" - Randy L. Schmidt

    Votes: 25 73.5%

  • Total voters
    34

kprather

Member
Page 78, Coleman:
Henri Mancini...had been outnumbered when he voted for Karen as she played drums
and sang solo on
'For Once In My Life,' (Your All-American College Show,September 1969).
Forgive the tangent, but is a clip of this performance floating around out there?
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Staff member
Moderator
It may have been an "authorized" biography, in the sense that Richard cooperated with Ray Coleman, in hopes that the facts would be presented accurately , and portray himself and his family in a positive light. But it is clear that the ultimate control over this project did not lie with Richard, but rather with the publisher. Ray Coleman had a contract, and undoubtedly an advance payment, and he had to deliver. If Richard was unhappy that the finished book wasn't what he had hoped it would be, he sure didn't show it at the time. If he was "anything but happy with it", then why did he appear on TV to promote the book?
Well, like many things with Richard, hindsight has proven to be 20/20. He's often "voiced" one opinion or another, only to have a completely different take on things over time as he's had time to reflect.

In all of their interviews together, Richard divulged a lot that neither of them necessarily intended on including in the book because he was trying to give Ray more backstory to things, trusting that it was to be used to add color, but not become the central focus in regards to their personal struggles.

When the manuscript that Ray and Richard agreed on was delivered, there weren't enough of the personal details included, so many tweaks were made to please the publisher. Richard inevitably looks back at that and feels that the final and central focus of the book was Karen's eating disorder and her demise, which wasn't the reason that he agreed to do it. As far as advertising goes, there was still a contract to do the book and it was looked at as another marketing tool to boost sales of their music catalog.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Well, like many things with Richard, hindsight has proven to be 20/20. He's often "voiced" one opinion or another, only to have a completely different take on things over time as he's had time to reflect.

In all of their interviews together, Richard divulged a lot that neither of them necessarily intended on including in the book because he was trying to give Ray more backstory to things, trusting that it was to be used to add color, but not become the central focus in regards to their personal struggles.

When the manuscript that Ray and Richard agreed on was delivered, there weren't enough of the personal details included, so many tweaks were made to please the publisher. Richard inevitably looks back at that and feels that the final and central focus of the book was Karen's eating disorder and her demise, which wasn't the reason that he agreed to do it. As far as advertising goes, there was still a contract to do the book and it was looked at as another marketing tool to boost sales of their music catalog.
Thanks for the extra insight. However, I'm still a bit unclear on the chronology of events regarding the book's form. When you refer to the manuscript Ray and Richard agreed on, do you mean that they'd decided to come up with a project which Ray would then write up and pitch to a publisher, or that the deal with the publisher had already been signed before this, but that the publisher wasn't happy with the first draft? If it's the latter, I wonder whether promises had been made by Ray to the publisher that the book would be more comprehensive but that the first draft held too much back.

The reason I'm curious is that so many of the people interviewed in the book could only offer details on their personal lives, not on their musical lives, which suggests a different agenda by Coleman. Presumably the interviews were largely all done in the same timeframe rather than another large number of interviews being conducted after the rejection of the first draft to provide extra details on their personal lives?

In either case, it just goes to show how difficult it is to maintain that tight control over the image presented when other people are involved. Perhaps Richard would have been better advised going down the 'autobiography' route, either working by himself or with another writer, but with his name as at least a co-author on the cover. Plenty of artists have done this when they wanted to have the final say on what about how their life is covered. Aretha Franklin exercised such firm control over her 'autobiography' written with David Ritz in the 1990s that David eventually went on to write a separate biography on her 15 years later containing much of the information that she'd suppressed in the first book!

In a sense, there was something a bit odd about the idea of the book being presented as a biography written by a third party when in some respects it presented quite a selective picture, which is something some of those contemporary reviews of the book pick up on. If Richard had been named as an author/co-author, then it would have been clearer to everyone that it showed the story he wanted to tell. Granted, that may have reduced the number of publishers who'd want to take it on, but doubtless someone would have.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Well, like many things with Richard, hindsight has proven to be 20/20. He's often "voiced" one opinion or another, only to have a completely different take on things over time as he's had time to reflect.
It seems that the longer I live, my perspective on life and events changes. I completed understand Richard changing his mind. (I also think this is why my "revisited" album reviews came into being.)
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
It seems that the longer I live, my perspective on life and events changes. I completely understand Richard changing his mind.
One of the most significant lines posted here!
If you feel exactly the same about everything from the time it happened to the present, you haven't opened up your heart or your mind to other possibilities. Maybe it's part of "growing" as a person, and not becoming stagnant.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
It seems that the longer I live, my perspective on life and events changes. I completed understand Richard changing his mind.
Richard has actually said pretty much those same words himself before:

As time passes and events unfold, one's perspective on certain matters can change, as has mine regarding this album.

Karen Carpenter: Karen Carpenter Solo Album
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Based on what I'm reading above, Richard wanted a book that focused on both of them. They both make up Carpenters so that makes sense. The trouble is that the public isn't that interested in him; they are interested only in Karen. When it came to releasing a book about them, realizing that fact likely would have made things go down a little more easily for him. We as fans are interested in Richard too. I am less interested in Richard than I am in Karen by a long shot but I know what Richard brought to the table. The world at large doesn't care about that; they only care about Karen's one-of-a-kind voice.

Further, as we all know, Anorexia Nervosa is the kind of tabloid-y thing a publisher can sell books with. Anything involving Karen is going to revolve around the disease she suffered from. Misery sells...every single time. Richard's addiction to quaaludes is nowhere near as interesting as a long-term battle with an eating disorder. That sells and I'm sure the publisher knew that and wanted as much of that as they could get.

Ed
 

David A

Well-Known Member
[SNIP]

Further, as we all know, Anorexia Nervosa is the kind of tabloid-y thing a publisher can sell books with. Anything involving Karen is going to revolve around the disease she suffered from. Misery sells...every single time. Richard's addiction to quaaludes is nowhere near as interesting as a long-term battle with an eating disorder. That sells and I'm sure the publisher knew that and wanted as much of that as they could get.

Ed
Yes, agreed. Tragedy sells. And Karen's story is compelling in that regard, for all the reasons we know. Strictly from a commercial sales standpoint it would seem inevitable that the book would end up focusing on that, perhaps more than had been originally intended.

Another element that sells is the "blame game" in an attempt to explain the "why". The "why" element to any personal tragedy is impossible to avoid, again, because it stirs passions and sells books.
 
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