.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Monday, June 04, 2007

My Confession from the 70's

I’m going out on a limb in this post and confessing something from my past that some may find very hard to believe. It's not that millions of people weren't doing the same thing in the 70's. It's just that some will be shocked to learn that I was hooked.

I’m sure others will simply say. “I never really thought about it, Tom, but why does this not surprise me? Youth is full of youthful indiscretions. So reading here that, during the turbulence of the 70’s, you’d spend hours in your basement "lost to the world" in this way is not shocking. In fact, I used to do the exact same thing.”

It’s true. I never tired of it… in the basement…in my brother’s car… or on my bedroom floor staring up at the ceiling. Eventually, I began mainlining the stuff into my head through a huge pair of headphones.

Yes, I was a Carpenters junkie. All albums, both sides. In fact, I learned tonight that I haven't fully recovered from those days and a dose of Karen still takes me to a sweet place in my mind. Some of you are gagging at the thought; some of you are not surprised at all; and some younger readers are wondering "Karen who?"
If you’ve been reading here for a while or if you browse the archives, you’ll know I had a very conservative upbringing (that I wouldn’t trade for the world, by the way). My parents deprived their kids of all sorts of depravity. Certain bands and types of music were forbidden in our house. All the heavy metal, drug-friendly, anti-authority, "hard/acid rock,” etc. of the day was strictly taboo.
Parenting is full of tough calls, and I’m glad Mom and Dad were willing to “dig in” on issues that 20 years later we’d all smile about. I survived, and my paper route/bus boy money went a lot further because my brother Paul purchased lots of [mostly] “Dad-approved” records. He had every Letterman album ever pressed on vinyl. A few Simon and Garfunkel and Bread albums slipped under Dad’s radar. My brothers and I lifted our Sears Ted Williams weights to S&G all the time (back when biceps mattered =).

When it came time, however, for me to plumb the depths of love and romance and guarded innocence, it was the sterling voice of Karen Carpenter that taught me everything I needed to know at the time.

A new invention called the cassette tape recorder had just hit the market. Mine had a built in mike that allowed me to take my brother’s stereo speakers off the wall and aim them at my tape recorder to make not-so-hi-fi recordings of all his Carpenters albums, complete with background noise from the basement.
I can't begin to explain the strange time warp I've been in this evening listening to these songs. Hearing this many of them in one sitting has taken me back to a time I'd nearly forgotten when feelings of love were new and thoughts of life loomed infinitely in front of me.
I began remembering specific scenes form life as this music played tonight. For instance: driving home at night with Dad up I-75 after dropping my sister and two brothers off at college. I was stretched out on the back seat listening to the Carpenters for hours. After the song "It's Going to Take Some Time this Time," Dad broke a long silence, "I liked that line about the young trees learning to bend in the winter time." I failed to grasp that he wasn't thinking about trees.

Ten hours before, he had left three of his five kids 700 miles from home, and we would not see them until Christmas. Kathy was a college Junior, Paul a sophomore, and Dave a freshman. I was a high school junior, and my little brother Jim was four. In three year's time, our 3-bedroom house had gone from over-crowded to quiet. I knew those years were hard for Mom, Jim and me, but I didn't learn until much later that Dad sometimes cried in private when it was "one more round for experience and [he was] on the road again."
I've added several "pick and choose" video Youtube links in red below, including a TV special that tells the story of how this brother and sister act went from “rejection” to “The Top of the World” and the end of the road. If you watch all of the links, it could won't last a a day, but perhaps you'll watch some now and come back some "rainy day" when you need a place to "Hideaway."As you watch, you'll wonder, “Were we ever really that innocent.” We must have been, because my friends and I alone didn't send these songs up the charts.

Maybe it's just me, but I miss Karen Carpenter. Next February marks 25 years since her untimely death. She would now be 57, and "for all we know" a "Superstar" in the middle of a come-back tour (like the one Barry Manilow enjoyed for over a decade).
"We've only just begun" to enjoy these "Songs for You." "Sometimes," it's nice to just sit back and imagine it's "Yesterday Once More" without "Hurting Each Other." Here a young Richard Carpenter explains to a live audience why their "layered" studio harmonies were not possible in live performances (or like this one on the Carol Burnett show). When Karen sang "Ave Maria" in this Christmas special it highlighted her natural ability to let a song sing itself. It seems like "Only Yesterday" that my brothers and I were playing air guitar to "Good bye to Love."
The closest current performer to come along who could "cover" The Carpenters songs may be 2006 American Idol runner up, Katherine McPhee, but even she lacks the easy flow of voice and genuinely wholesome quality of Karen Carpenter.
Bless you for clicking some links and watching an old friend make music. If you'd like to see the whole Carpenter story, here are seven sequential links to a televised tribute hosted by Richard Carpenter: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7.
This post dedicated to my brother Paul whose vast vinyl collection--from Gershwin to Garfunkel--added an unforgettable soundtrack to our lives.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger the walking man said...

Yeah the mid 60's and 70's left us all burn outs on one thing or another. I got an A in one class, the only one I ever puled down, that night my mom took me to the store and said I could have any record I wanted, Tommy By The Who. I didn't have headphones and neither did my father...he always won the turn that STUFF (expletive not used) down battle.

4/6/07 12:50 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

It's funny how music gets lodged in its own nook of the brain and all sorts of memories get wedged in there with it. These songs became the sound track of what I'd call my "youth group" years. Basically all the parents of my circle of friends approved of The Carpenters but little more. It's probably no surprise that The Who did not make the approved list, but I did know "Tommy, Can you Hear me" and "Pinball Wizard," of course. =)

4/6/07 8:20 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Its odd but sometimes when I read blogs a theme emerges for the day. Todays theme is memories. I suppose I am aware of the theme because in cleaning our basement I came across some things of my grandfather that brought back all kinds of memories.

4/6/07 8:58 PM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

yes, that was real music back then, wasn't it? i hear barbra streisand singing, "memories."

here's the website for uploading music to your blog: www.bestaudiocodes.com.

you can upload one song by clicking on "audio codes" at the top, or you can generate a playlist by clicking on "playlist." playlist will allow you to have more than one song playing on your blog. there's a new category called "new music search."

i hope this helps you out with uploading music to your blog. if you need any help, just let me know. i usually keep music on mine, but since my internet's been back up, i hadn't done it until today.

i usually pick a new song with each new blogpost. sometimes i have more than one song in my playlist. i usually match my song with my post, but today i just picked a song i liked. michael w. smith is my favorite artist.

there are also podcasts (i don't think on the above website though) you can upload to your blog, but since i don't use an ipod, i'm not able to do this.

4/6/07 9:58 PM  
Blogger Lone Grey Squirrel said...

What was that that Clinton or was it Bush who said, 'I smoked but I did not inhale"?

I too went through the Carpenter's stage but I guess I didn't linger. I know the songs and like them all but I moved on rapidly to more gritty, protest songs ---well, "Pinball Wizard was one of them"!

Still, The Carpenters songs are evergreen and have stood the test of time. We've only just begun......

5/6/07 1:38 AM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

Wow, you're courageous. I loved the Carpenters, too, but I wouldn't admit it publicly. Well, I guess I just did. But I loved them because I aspired to playing the drums, and Karen was, like, the only female drummer I knew about.

5/6/07 9:26 AM  
Blogger leslie said...

This sure takes me back in time. My Dad was very strict about everything, too, and we weren't allowed to listen to or see Elvis when he was at his peak. Remember Carol King? Saturday nights if I'm out, I hear the oldies on 104.9 FM in Vancouver and I can't believe how I can remember all the words to the songs!

5/6/07 5:03 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Dr. John,
When I'm cleaning out a room, attic, or closet... I can get bogged down in memories triggered by the things I find. I have to be careful that way because I can find significance in things that rightly should be pitched. =) My wife is less of a keeper so we balance each other out.

It was a good run of a type of songs we don't hear coming out anymore. Thanks for the tip.

It was Clinton. =) My friends and I not only knew all the songs, we knew the album sequence, and the Carpenter's albums were put together to be listened to in order. Richard C. was a master producer. The protests songs were especially discouraged in my house, but I must admit I'm a huge fan and can sing "There's Something Happenin' Here" by Buffalo Springfield. That's a classic.

That's why I called it a confession. I must admit that if it hadn't been for the short list of "approved" albums my brother could buy, we may not have spent so many hours listening to the Carpenters over and over, but I can say that Karen Carpenter's audience had plenty of male listeners. =)

Paul had Carol King's "Tapestry" album. There were a few songs on there I really liked. We had no Elvis albums, but I will say that my sister Kathy could organize an entire slumber party around an Elvis movie on "Friday Night at the Movies." She especially liked "Follow that Dream" and "Blue Hawaii." One I remember was called "Flaming Star." (Elvis is an Indian--sad ending.)

5/6/07 6:25 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

Tom, gosh, I haven't thought about the Carpenters for years, but I think everyone loved them in the 1970s. They were part of that era. Karen Carpenter's untimely death really speaks to the pressures that performers have to keep up a certain image. She had one of the most beautiful voices, but she was more concerned about how she "looked". That still happens to young performers today.

I still love "We've Only Just Begun".

(I haven't been able to visit many blogs lately, so I will be spending some time catching up.)


6/6/07 10:25 AM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

I can hear Karen's soothing voice right now. It disturbed me so much when she died due to complications brought on from her eating disorder. She lived, or tried to live, on lettuce and probably it was the vitamin deficient iceberg kind at that. Such a shame.

Well, I was raising a family during the seventies and beyond getting musically hooked on anyone. But in the hay day of my youth, Rodgers and Hammerstein won my heart with their Broadway musicals: South Pacific; Oklahoma; The King and I.

Even though I was a married woman by the time the Beatles became popular in the early 60's, I found their music refreshing and I became a fan of theirs. It must have had an impact on my genes, because our son Buddy discovered them during the 70's when he was a youngster under 10 and he fell in love with them and has been a huge fan of theirs ever since. I think he may suffer from Beatle mania in fact even today and he just turned 40.

It stays with you, the music from your youth. I get all swoonish whenever I hear "Some Enchanted Evening."

6/6/07 11:16 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Glad you’re feeling better. Take your time in getting caught up.
The Karen Carpenter story is really sad. If you watch the "sing song" link, you'll see she is a normal body weight in 1974. I wonder if someone told her "you look fat." How does someone get that disorder? I hope the new 17-year-old American Idol girl can learn to say, "Hey, I am what I am--let me be a kid!" I hope so.

Because my parents and brother had every R&H musical (and non-R&H stock like Meredith Wilson's Music Man), I knew and still know all the great musicals by heart. PBS had a great special on R&H a while back. They're timeless. As are many of the great Beetles hits. At the time, the Beetles were "taboo" in my house for reasons explained in my December 10, 2006, post. Here is a link to another Beetle's post.

6/6/07 4:45 PM  
Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

I've listened to all kinds of music, including the Carpenters. Nothing wrong there. How about the Captain and Tenille (spelling?). Remember their television show. Yep, I used to watch it. Although, I'm sure this type of music is off limits at this weekend's catfish tournment. Take care.

7/6/07 2:49 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Hey, it's been a while. Glad you're finding your own blogging pace.
If you crank up "Love Will Keep us Together" out on the Lake and your BroRon is with you... the other catfishermen may get the wrong idea! Sounds like a great event, though.

7/6/07 5:12 PM  
Blogger Tracie said...

The Carpenters were my favorite! That was when I was just discovering music. I was first influenced at 4 when my mom sang Close to You nonstop. She said I sang it with her all the time. I became a big fan when I really started listening to music as I got older and I loved Top of the World and We've Only Just Begun. Man the memories! Our big thing was 'skating' at the time and the skating rink was in full form with The Carpenters playing over and over. That's when 'holding hands' while skating with 'the one you love' (at twelve years old) was the thing to do! I agree Katey McPhee could 'cover' their songs well but there will never be another Karen Carpenter.

Also a HUUGE fan of Simon & Garfunkel. Good times. :O)

8/6/07 10:08 AM  
Blogger J_G said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/6/07 12:55 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

Tom, I thought Karen carpenter had a wonderful voice and I enjoyed listening to her music. It is a shame that she had to die so young.

What's amazing too is I just got done posting about a young woman singer I admired very much that died in the late 70's. I suppose my tastes in music differed somewhat than yours and as far as inhaling,I look back to the 70s and now I wish I hadn't inhaled.

8/6/07 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. K -

Well, I grew up loving the Carpenters too - it was one of the few non-"KNWS" records my parents had in the house. I watched a documentary on her life, and it said that when they first started gaining popularity as a group, a newspaper ran an article about the new sensation "Richard Carpenter and his chubby sister Karen", and that's what started her on her downward spiral. It's so sad. I would have loved to see her as a mentor to the kids on this year's American Idol. I think she could have taught those girls a thing or two! Thanks for the links - I've never seen this many live performances before.


9/6/07 9:49 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

You can't imagine how much I enjoy hearing from former students. Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Folks, this is Betsey, one of the finest pianist ever to pass through my classroom. She used to accompany the musicals my wife and I directed (many moons ago). Then her senior year we got her up on stage in “You Can’t Take it With You.”

If you watch Part I at the end. One of their first producers says something like "Here's this guy and his chubby sister and they sound great together." I watched the images from that time, and she looked very healthy (she had some lingering "baby face" when she was in junior high, but that's normal)--people just don't think when they tease. I do think she would have been a great mentor/guest on AI. I had never seen any of these performances before Youtube either. All my hours were with LPs or tapes. Hope you're having a good start to summer. (BTW, I cracked up about the KNWS line.)

9/6/07 7:19 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


There's so many things I have yet to explore on the internet. Like my love for The Carpenters!

I haven't really listened to them much in recent years. But their music is definitely a part of me.

My first exposure started in the early 70's with my parents 8-track tapes in the car: John Denver, Jermaine Jackson, Carly Simon, Simon & Garfunkel, Ray Conniff and the Singers, and The Carpenters' "Close to You" album come to mind.

As I got older, I rediscovered them on my own, as I entered my teen years, and discovered music. Only, I wasn't just into the latest rock and pop of my era; I went backwards to my parents' music. I bought every single Carpenters album on cassette tape available.

I listened to the simple song "Sometimes" that you linked to. I've always found the simplicity and the message beautiful. "Maybe it's You"...really, all the songs on "Close to You", I like.

"Merry Christmas Darling" just transports me. It conjures in my heart a romantic fireplace in a log cabin, a Christmas tree, and someone I love writing me a love letter or greeting card.

I don't have many Carpenter Cds, but I still have the cassettes. I wonder if I'll be able to get away with playing them at work tomorrow?

I have a certain quirk, that anything deemed "uncool" to be into, I'll broadcast it.

How funny would it be to be at a traffic stop, a car pulls up with some tough gangbanger thug-looking types...and instead of listening to rap crap and hip-hop, they have the windows rolled down with Barry Manilow, the Carpenters, or "Camelot" blaring from their vehicle?

Thanks for reminding me of one of my great loves: Karen Carpenter's voice.

16/6/07 12:01 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

So glad to hear another fan out there. I had the same flood of memories the night I wrote this and listened to those titles. By the way, all the other artists you mention are in my same pile. It wasn't so much "my parents music" as much as it was the music they'd let my brother buy while "he was under their roof" as parents used to rightly say.
The thought of blasting "To the Fair" or "C'est Moi" from Camelot back at some loud car is really funny. Glad you stopped by and enjoyed this post.

16/6/07 9:48 AM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

hi tom, want to wish you a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY today. enjoy your day!!

17/6/07 10:45 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Scrolled down and saw this the next morning. Thanks. We did have a nice day.

18/6/07 5:45 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

all the other artists you mention are in my same pile.

Really? Ray Conniff Singers? The album I grew up on, in the car, was "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing". I waited forever for that album to finally get a release on cd. I found it during the 90's in a record store, but by then, I had no turntable to play the album on. My parents, of course, had it on 8-track.

9/7/07 4:02 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I love finding comments in the archives. Thanks for reading. Yes, Ray Conniff, Mike Curb Congregation, The New Seekers ("I'd like to teach...")...good stuff.

13/8/07 4:16 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Offshore Jones Act
Offshore Jones Act Counter