Monday, August 23, 2010

Karen Carpenter book is pop culture classic

Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter stood out on the shelf of Book Soup and seemed like a good summer read. The details of the Seventies star's death scene seemed promising enough, but we admit we expected the book to be a camp clip job hagiography written by a fan.

As it turns out, Little Girl Blue is finely-written, exhaustively-researched and nothing less than a classic rock bio penned by a music teacher who's dedicated decades to the subject and wrung from it a revelatory tragic saga As far as we know, this is the first clear representation of the baleful star's life, no longer clouded by family censorship and shading, painting a vivid portrait of the family dynamics that fed Karen's anorexia, and compiling other juicy details like the fact that Karen had a "microphone voice"-- powerful on records but so soft that it could hardly be heard across a room, and revealing that the smarmy incest rumours about brother and sister were trumped by the fact that, after treatment for his Quaalude addiction, brother Richard Carpenter married his first cousin.

Randy L. Schmidt's music credentials come into play with a fascinating overview of their creative and recording process and the Carpenters' place in the music, cultural and political scenes of the Seventies. This book could get the Carpenters into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Schmidt's report that she had a strictly "microphone" voice...Having seen them "live" in three different venues --I was struck by what a BIG sound she could make (albeit miked at the time ---you can tell these things) --Much like k.d.lang today --Karen seemed to me, to have a very powerful "live" voice. The pipes may have diminished with time and with her illness....--Victor in Seattle