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When you first heard the Carpenters...

kac_beth

New Member
Hi everyone! Here's an experience from someone who was born long after 1983 and who has just "discovered" Carpenters in 2020. I apologize for my English as it's not my first language.

---

Growing with parents who were not into music, the only Carpenters songs I knew were Yesterday Once More and Close To You. I had listened to them so many times and loved them. But I never knew anything about the duo. Like almost everyone else, I had vaguely heard that Karen suffered from anorexia. And that's as far as I know about Carpenters.

Then, on November 27, 2020, I was shopping for groceries in Safeway. They were playing some Christmas songs in the background. I didn't pay much attention to them... until they played this song. At the end of the first verse, I was taken by the voice. I just realized that I was listening to something truly great. I pulled out my phone, trying to record it, so afraid that I was going to miss it. Then I went home and tried to identify the song.

I found that it's Christmas Waltz from Christmas Portrait. So I looked up Carpenters, read Karen's biography. Then I went down the rabbit hole... I spent hours on YouTube, watching anything I could find about Carpenters. Then I stumbled upon this forum, which increased my obsession to the next level. I bought "Little Girl Blue", listened to Carpenter songs, bought a record (even though I don't yet own a turntable), read old threads on this forum, read the fan club newsletters, and so on.

In a way, I just "discovered" Carpenters in 2020. I usually listen to contemporary music. But there's something special about Karen's voice that transcends time and deeply resonates with me. Thank you the grocery store for playing Christmas Waltz that day and making me a new fan.

As someone who was born too late, I truly appreciate every experience, every anecdote, every memory on this forum. It's the closest connection to Carpenters that I can get. I still feel surreal every time I read someone sharing their experience of having attended a Carpenters concert or growing up with their music. Thank you so much for sharing Carpenters with the world.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Welcome. It's always nice to have you "new kids" discovering the great music that has been the soundtracks of our lives for many years. You'll have much more to learn and discover as you continue down your rabbit hole...

:phones:
 

Proudofyou

Well-Known Member
I was born in 72, and hearing them on the radio must have made an impression because it was the first music I remember having a reaction to. Oddly enough, a few years ago, I made the connection that there's a resemblance between Karen and my mom as they are about the same age. She was a big fan as well. I have so many distinct memories and one of my mom letting out an audible gasp and "Oh no, she was like a friend" when they announced her death on the radio while she was driving me to ballet lessons when I was 11. I remember being incredibly sad and saving the People Magazine issue the next week. (just did psychotherapy on myself).
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
@kac_beth - Welcome to the Boards. It's so wonderful to hear your story! I'm one of the folks that heard all those great Carpenters singles and albums when they first were released, but I love hearing stories like yours. Please keep sharing your impressions.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Hi everyone! Here's an experience from someone who was born long after 1983 and who has just "discovered" Carpenters in 2020. I apologize for my English as it's not my first language.

---

Growing with parents who were not into music, the only Carpenters songs I knew were Yesterday Once More and Close To You. I had listened to them so many times and loved them. But I never knew anything about the duo. Like almost everyone else, I had vaguely heard that Karen suffered from anorexia. And that's as far as I know about Carpenters.

Then, on November 27, 2020, I was shopping for groceries in Safeway. They were playing some Christmas songs in the background. I didn't pay much attention to them... until they played this song. At the end of the first verse, I was taken by the voice. I just realized that I was listening to something truly great. I pulled out my phone, trying to record it, so afraid that I was going to miss it. Then I went home and tried to identify the song.

I found that it's Christmas Waltz from Christmas Portrait. So I looked up Carpenters, read Karen's biography. Then I went down the rabbit hole... I spent hours on YouTube, watching anything I could find about Carpenters. Then I stumbled upon this forum, which increased my obsession to the next level. I bought "Little Girl Blue", listened to Carpenter songs, bought a record (even though I don't yet own a turntable), read old threads on this forum, read the fan club newsletters, and so on.

In a way, I just "discovered" Carpenters in 2020. I usually listen to contemporary music. But there's something special about Karen's voice that transcends time and deeply resonates with me. Thank you the grocery store for playing Christmas Waltz that day and making me a new fan.

As someone who was born too late, I truly appreciate every experience, every anecdote, every memory on this forum. It's the closest connection to Carpenters that I can get. I still feel surreal every time I read someone sharing their experience of having attended a Carpenters concert or growing up with their music. Thank you so much for sharing Carpenters with the world.
"Frosted window panes..." As sung by Karen Carpenter. One of the greatest vocal openings in all of music. Tells me the Christmas season has arrived!

Welcome to the forum! :)
 

ChrisCarpenterCollecter

Well-Known Member
My Love For the “Carpenters” all began two years ago in March.
I was playing on my room with the radio on and i heard “Top Of The World” I immediately thought “Hey I Must have heard this before”
And it was the song our school teacher used to play at school.
I loved it and the day after I couldn’t get it out of my head, those beautiful melodies, and Karen’s voice!
Then i looked up more songs.
I loved them too!
Then i found the Greatest Hits CD at a Dutch Ebay.
Then i think one week later, i was at my grandmothers house looking for old cassettes.
and there i saw something.... The Carpenters “Only Yesterday Greatest Hits” cassette!
I was almost shocked, like it was ment to be that i had to be a fan😄
My grandmother told me they used to play it in the car!
I took it home and listened to it many times.
Then a few days later i found the Tan album at a shop on vinyl!
I loved The Bacharach medley and i heard another side from the Carpenters, not only the greatest hits.
After that i collected and collected and listened further and now my collection and love for the carpenters has grown very much!

Chris
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
I started with Carpenters back when Close to You came out but the first album I bought was Singles 1969-1973. I later got the lps as I came across them at thrift stores. I have a two cd set of all the hits and other songs and that is what I listen to most of the time. I have looked for the original album Offering from before its recover as Ticket to Ride but I have never found it.
 

Greg

Well-Known Member
I was sitting in a pub with my parents back in the 1980s and was very very young. The pub was almost empty and the bar maid was playing songs from the jukebox, when all of a sudden 'We've only just begun' started playing. I was sitting beside the large speaker and the huge wall of Karen and Richard's harmonies swept over me, and had a deep effect on me - I could feel the sound. And obviously Karen's voice struck me as instantly extraordinary.

I was hooked and started asking to play the song on loop that day, which quickly drove everyone crazy. Karen's was first voice I ever loved.

The first album I got was 'A Song For You' - which I adored. Then not long after, 'Voice of the Heart' - which again I adored. It was funny too as while discovering their catalogue, I could feel vague memories of hearing 'Sing', 'Close to You' and, oddly enough, "Sweet Sweet Smile' before - though I was maybe too young to take note before.
 

Chris W

Member
Growing up in the UK in the 70s I must have heard the Carpenters hundreds of times but I never really listened to them. When I started buying music it was in a much more new wave direction. It wasn't until earlier this year when lockdown was looming that I went around my local charity shops before they closed to pick up CDs. The first one I went in had copies of Ticket To Ride and Close To You and on a whim I bought them for the princely sum of £2!
Later that day I played Close To You but got stuck on 'We've Only Just Begun', which i must have repeated 10 times. I thought it was perfect, the arrangement, harmonies and most of all Karen's voice ( the bit where she sings "And when the evening comes"!) were simply as beautiful as anything I'd ever heard. I've been hooked ever since, listening to the albums in chronological order I'm now up to Made In America and am still as in love with that voice.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I'm loving all these stories- but I have an especial fondness for the ones that mentioned We've Only Just Begun. That was the one that hooked me in 1970 when it was a brand new single.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
Growing up in the UK in the 70s I must have heard the Carpenters hundreds of times but I never really listened to them. When I started buying music it was in a much more new wave direction. It wasn't until earlier this year when lockdown was looming that I went around my local charity shops before they closed to pick up CDs. The first one I went in had copies of Ticket To Ride and Close To You and on a whim I bought them for the princely sum of £2!
Later that day I played Close To You but got stuck on 'We've Only Just Begun', which i must have repeated 10 times. I thought it was perfect, the arrangement, harmonies and most of all Karen's voice ( the bit where she sings "And when the evening comes"!) were simply as beautiful as anything I'd ever heard. I've been hooked ever since, listening to the albums in chronological order I'm now up to Made In America and am still as in love with that voice.
I also feel chills everytime I hear that same phrase in We’ve Only Just Begun. It’s a perfect capsule of the song and Karen easily captures it along with Richard’s arrangement and together with the magic of Paul Williams sailed this song as the most requested wedding song of the 70’s!
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
Summer of 91 for me. I was 13. Mum was fond of them and my Dad bought her the then new UK greatest hits tape Only Yesterday.

I must have heard her playing it, particularly close to you, so "borrowed" it and listened to that track over and over again....then the song just before it "for all we know" and the one after "all you get from love".

I was obsessed and by may of '92 I owned their entire catalogue (except for An Old Fashioned Xmas).

Great times.
 
I really can't remember the first time I heard our duo, but I remember the first record I received was Sing in 1973, I was 10 at the time. Loved them all of my life just about
 

Tom_P

Active Member
Although 'Close To You' had been a Top 10 hit and their albums sold respectably, the Carpenters weren't really a hit singles act in the UK till about 1972, when they had 3 big Carpenter-Bettis hits: 'Goodbye To Love', Yesterday Once More' and 'Top of the World'. GTL was certainly the first time I noticed them because I'd never heard anything like it before, and not just because of the fuzz-guitar solo. I felt the lyrics were, powerful, rather shocking to my 11-year-old mind, and I couldn't understand why someone would expose their vulnerability so nakedly in a song. Nonetheless, I recorded it from the radio on my then-brand-new cassette recorder (!), and played it all the time. When the other two singles were released, they provided a nice balance to the sublime gloom of GTL, and I decided I needed to hear more of this band. At this point, the first singles album hadn't quite come out, but in the UK cheap albums of session singers replicating chart hits were very popular (Elton John used to do them before he was famous!) and my mum got me one of these called 'Sounds Like The Carpenters'. I loved everything on it and when 'The Singles 1969-73' came out I started dropping hints about that for birthday/Christmas presents!

The first Carpenters album I ever went out and bought for myself was 'Horizon' and this remains my favourite album of theirs to this day. In the UK, the summer of 1976 is remembered as being a particularly hot and sunny one, but it always seemed warm and sunny in 1975 when I was playing 'Horizon'! I agree with a lot of the criticisms of it: it's too short, the balance of happy/sad/slow/fast isn't right, and 'Postman' belongs on 'Now and Then', but it's just such an amazing-sounding album. Karen vocals are wonderful, and Richard's production has a real buzz to it that I feel he never quite captured again - and I still love the elements that Richard now regrets, like the synthesizer at the end of 'Happy'! Of course, while it was #1 for weeks in the UK and was the 4th-best-selling album of the year here, it represented a decline in US album sales for the Carpenters which was never reversed. I continued to buy and like their music until the albums stopped, but wished R&K had been able to continue to experiment a bit more without the pressure of having to deliver sales in the millions. By the time 'Made in America' came out, The Police had probably become A&M's biggest seller of the time, so the company was probably less dependent on Richard and Karen and they could have been given a little leeway to try new things like Linda Ronstadt was - and her experiments also became big sellers.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I can't specifically remember when I first heard Carpenters but I know that I was enthralled by Karen's voice and had a sense that this duo was a favourite by around seven or eight years of age.

I began listening to the local pop music station when, around 1969 or 1970, my older sisters began changing the radio dial from Mum and Dad's fixed position on the classical station.

I had a very strong appreciation of the classics by this time - choral music, orchestral arrangements, etc., so I was immediately drawn to those features in Carpenters' recordings.

Carpenters featured regularly on the pop radio station. I think it was actually when 'For All we Know' was a hit that I became especially aware that I was a fan. The next hit that I was specifically aware of was 'Hurting Each Other'.

A few strong early memories associated with Carpenters' music:-

At eight, looking out the school bus window at a farm scene while hearing 'It's Going to Take Some Time' on the bus radio.

At nine, while on a family Sunday drive around the countryside, listening attentively to the 'Now and Then' oldies medley on the radio station in the car. When Karen hit the low notes right at the close of 'The End of the World', my oldest sister said, "Gee, Karen Carpenter has got a strange voice!" and I thought, "A BEAUTIFUL voice, you mean!"

At nine, writing a piece about Carpenters and Kathleen Ferrier for a school essay, after finding an article and photo in the UK magazine, 'Woman', which my Mum used to subscribe to.

At ten, asking my Mum to buy the single, "For All we Know" for Christmas that year.

At ten, when my sisters asked me what I would like for my eleventh birthday, I said that I'd like the 'Great Hits of the Carpenters Vol 2 1969 -1973' record that I'd seen in the local electronics store. I went with them when they put all their five cent pieces together to pay for it. By that time, I knew really well 'I Won't Last a Day Without You', 'Jambalaya', 'Yesterday Once More', 'Top of the World', 'Hurting Each Other', 'Sing' 'It's Going to Take Some Time', 'Goodbye to Love', 'For All We Know' and 'Rainy Days and Mondays' but didn't know 'Close to You', 'We've Only Just Begun' or 'Superstar'.

From eleven onwards, I was an absolutely crazily obsessed fan, so that when 'Please Mr. Postman', 'Only Yesterday', 'Solitaire' and 'A Kind of Hush' came out, I obsessively watched their progress up the charts and had my ear glued to the radio at all times, waiting for the next release.
 

kprather

Well-Known Member
I was 8 years old when "Love Songs" came out. The first song that caught my attention in the commercial was "Top of the World". As an 8-year-old, I had trouble processing that the woman singing each of these songs was the same woman, because Karen looked so different in each video.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
1970 for me. 13 yrs old when I first heard CTY and like a lot of people I asked myself "WHO IS SINGING THAT?!!" Became a die-hard fan much later in life. I am completely and hopelessly hooked!:)
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
1970 at the age of 13 for me also. But it wasn't until "We've Only Just Begun" hit the airwaves later in the year when I figured out it was the Carpenters that actually performed both songs! At that age I paid more attention to the music than connecting the artist or group who actually recorded it unless it was the obvious stars like the Beatles, Elvis, Beach Boys, Supremes, etc. From that point on I became a loyal Carpenter fan in addition to having a major crush on Karen. I also started to pay close attention to the weekly Billboard charts for their releases and made an effort to listen to American Top 40 every weekend. However, I must admit that I was a little disappointed with their third hit "For All We Know" when it came out because I thought it was too short and boring for my teenage tastes but it has grown on me over the years!
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
1970 at the age of 13 for me also. But it wasn't until "We've Only Just Begun" hit the airwaves later in the year when I figured out it was the Carpenters that actually performed both songs! At that age I paid more attention to the music than connecting the artist or group who actually recorded it unless it was the obvious stars like the Beatles, Elvis, Beach Boys, Supremes, etc. From that point on I became a loyal Carpenter fan in addition to having a major crush on Karen. I also started to pay close attention to the weekly Billboard charts for their releases and made an effort to listen to American Top 40 every weekend. However, I must admit that I was a little disappointed with their third hit "For All We Know" when it came out because I thought it was too short and boring for my teenage tastes but it has grown on me over the years!

"From that point on I became a loyal Carpenter fan in addition to having a major crush on Karen."


Seems like every male adolescent, teenager, or adult for that matter, at one time had a crush on Karen. :love:
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
"From that point on I became a loyal Carpenter fan in addition to having a major crush on Karen."


Seems like every male adolescent, teenager, or adult for that matter, at one time had a crush on Karen. :love:

Karen, unfairly, was a bit of laughing-stock when I was in high-school. Names I remember mentioned in terms of crushes or desirability included Deborah Harry of Blondie, Agnetha from ABBA and Suzi Quatro. Mention of Karen only brought guffaws, unfortunately.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Karen, unfairly, was a bit of laughing-stock when I was in high-school. Names I remember mentioned in terms of crushes or desirability included Deborah Harry of Blondie, Agnetha from ABBA and Suzi Quatro. Mention of Karen only brought guffaws, unfortunately.

This is my recollection as well; Karen was seen by many fellow teen boys as too "innocent" and "wholesome" to be seen as a "hottie". And as we know, sexualizing Karen wouldn't have fit with the image they were horseshoed into (though I am going to speculate that Karen wouldn't have wanted that, anyway).

I, however, was enthralled with her, both vocally and in terms of attraction physically.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
I'm loving all these stories- but I have an especial fondness for the ones that mentioned We've Only Just Begun. That was the one that hooked me in 1970 when it was a brand new single.
Yes, that was the one, and in the same year - on my way to work at a new job and caught up in a traffic jam in center city - WOJB came on the radio and I remember saying something like "Who the f*** is singing this" and cranking up the volume...that song and that voice still sound just as great 50 years later!
 
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