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Carpenters fans keep quiet?

ullalume

Well-Known Member
Generally, Carpenters were ridiculed when I was growing up, if they were mentioned. One of my sisters hated them with a passion and a cousin used to call them Carry-on and Wretched Crapenter. (I must admit, that one always made me smile). My Dad used to imitate the “Calling Occupants” line in the song like a chook cackling - “Cark-a-dark-a-das!” and refer to Carpenters as “Those buggers” -“You’re not listening to THOSE buggers again??” When I was 13, my class was making silk screens and I was going to do a print of the ‘Carpenters’ logo. I remember the art teacher making a snide comment about my choice. And around the same age, class mates were discussing female singers who ‘weren’t bad’ - I think Agnetha from ABBA, Suzi Quatro and maybe Stevie Nicks were mentioned, then Karen was mentioned as someone who was definitely unappealing, after which there were derisive gaffaws. However, after the BBC “Carpenters live at the New London Theatre” special was screened in early 1977, a girl from my class said of Karen the next day, “She’s good on the drums!” after which another girl scoffed at her comment. (Where I grew up, there was only one clear TV station at the time, so people would have had to watch the Carpenters special, if they were going to watch anything).

About eight months after all this, perception of Carpenters seemed to change when “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” was released. That was a Top 5 single in the state where I live. Some kids definitely thought it was cool. I remember one boy enthusiastically reciting the DJ’s and Alien’s lines from the beginning of the album version. “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters” were also big around the same time and this may have helped Carpenters seem ‘in’ for a while. Visiting a few houses around the time, I noticed ‘Passage’ albums sitting beside turntables a couple of times. (The album reached Number 11).

Luckily, the “Space Encounters” special was never screened in my area, or that would have catapulted Carpenters to the realms of dagginess very quickly, all over again.
Great stories, mate.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Let Go...Let God (ONJ)
It was easier to be an Olivia fan than a Carpenters fan and once Totally Hot and Grease hit she was no longer easy listening. I still remember practice writing Olivia's name in my school book covers. She had the coolest name...I loved writing it in script. I actually wanted school mates to see the proud fan I was and she was hot in 78'. I was much more adapt at telling my friends that I listened to Olivia than I would that I listened to the Carpenters. It was more about saving myself from being ridiculed or teased and having to explain all my reasons, just to satisfy their dig at me. As a teenager, the Carpenters music allowed me to express my inner feelings and emotions through their lyrics in song....with Karen's voice she always knew how I was feeling and would accept me...even if I had to do that in my own room, away from the outside world.
 

Carl

"you are one of the few things worth remembering"
I became a fan in 2005 ( i was born in 1989) and when I discovered the Carpenters music I loved them there and then. I played the Gold album so much and scanned the shops where I lived looking for their cds. My friends at school eventually found out about my taste in music but thy didn't mind. So after that, I made no secret that I was a fan. My nan loved it as she was a fan also and we would exchange favourite songs. I would sing their songs at karaoke and play the music in my room almost constantly . As of 2019, I'm still a fan. I have all the albums plus some books and dvds and som eof their concert programmes.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
It was easier to be an Olivia fan than a Carpenters fan and once Totally Hot and Grease hit she was no longer easy listening. I still remember practice writing Olivia's name in my school book covers. She had the coolest name...I loved writing it in script. I actually wanted school mates to see the proud fan I was and she was hot in 78'. I was much more adapt at telling my friends that I listened to Olivia than I would that I listened to the Carpenters. It was more about saving myself from being ridiculed or teased and having to explain all my reasons, just to satisfy their dig at me. As a teenager, the Carpenters music allowed me to express my inner feelings and emotions through their lyrics in song....with Karen's voice she always knew how I was feeling and would accept me...even if I had to do that in my own room, away from the outside world.
It’s weird the pressure kids put on each other. Sometimes they do this without meaning to and sometimes it’s very targeted. I’ve got a feeling that, where I grew up, kids would have accepted someone liking Olivia because she was hot more readily than someone liking her because they loved her music. It would have all been about the image that the kids presented to each other - and the image of the artist that they admitted to accepting or emulating.

The only other kid I remember mentioning Olivia Newton-John when I was young was the same cousin who had a dig at Carpenters every now and then through the nicknames, etc. He thought Olivia was hot AND liked her music. His Dad and older brother also liked ONJ. I wonder what my cousin and I would have thought of the other singer if we realised that Karen and Olivia were friends.

I agree that there was a new perception of Olivia after ‘Grease’ and ‘Totally Hot’, although I don’t think she ever had the same stigma to battle with that Carpenters had. ‘Calling Occupants’ changed things a bit in places where it was a big hit, and that was probably one reason behind Richard and Karen recording and releasing the song - to change people’s perception of them - although they’ve both said that they more or less did it because Richard loved sci-fi and the song and just wanted to have some fun, etc - more or less on a whim. I reckon it was probably more calculated than that.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
I don't think it had much to do with the music. It was about growing up, fitting in, trying to adopt a façade of cool. I don't know anyone I was friends with then who doesn't now have a fondness for at least a few of their hits.
Yes, I agree. Exactly. That’s what I meant, above. Although some kids chose a more aggressive style of music or a more ‘cool’ style, like stoner music of some kind, to express who they were, so then it WAS about the music.

I remember that one kid in high school liked KISS and had the whole look to go with it - (not the face paint). That’s a bit funny, looking back, because now, KISS sounds quite light and inoffensive and they were actually very commercialised, with the face-design brand, the logo, etc. They actually recorded some quite soft songs. Even their heavier stuff doesn’t sound very heavy now.

It’s also funny to now know that Gene Simmons from KISS had met Karen, liked her enough to go down to her room when she summonsed him when they were staying in the same hotel, (leaving his groupie waiting upstairs), and wanted Karen to sing on his solo album.

Having said that, teenagers who were expressing who they were through the music they admitted to liking wouldn’t have wanted to say they liked Carpenters. That might have suggested that they were calm, sensitive, reflective, thoughtful, or musical in a more traditional sense, in terms of choirs, orchestral music or classically-influenced arrangements; or that they were going with the flow, instead of being rebellious and rocking the boat - all the things that teenagers wouldn’t have wanted to present to the world about themselves in the 70s.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
"It’s also funny to now know that Gene Simmons from KISS had met Karen, liked her enough to go down to her room when she summonsed him when they were staying in the same hotel, (leaving his groupie waiting upstairs), and wanted Karen to sing on his solo album."

Boy, THAT would have rocked some minds, huh? :)
 

Tapdancer

Active Member
As a teenager in the 70s, if it was music that your parents also liked, then you never admitted that you liked it to your friends.
 
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