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“I never wanted to be well-rounded, and I do not admire well-rounded people nor their work. So far as I can see, nothing good in the world has ever been done by well-rounded people. The good work is done by people with jagged, broken edges, because those edges cut things and leave an imprint, a design.”

—Harry Crews

The other day my friend posted a Karen Carpenter remix to Facebook. It’s a 1971 recording of ‘Superstar,’ just the lead vocal over a bass guitar and a simple drum track. Apparently she nailed the vocal in one take.
Comment: “Her control is awesome.” Yes.
Comment: “She had a lot of control–maybe too much.” Yes.
And if you look at the thumbnail photo that accompanies the song file, she looks gaunt. Controlled. Flawless. One take.

We didn’t listen to very much music in our house when I was growing up in the seventies. But my dad must have liked The Carpenters, because he was obsessed with Karen after she died of anorexia in 1983.
“Karen Carpenter,” he chanted repeatedly. “Dead at 32.”
This speaks volumes about my dad, not as much about Karen.

“People are always trying to find a link between Karen’s illness and a single heartbreak. But I don’t associate it with anything.”
–Richard Carpenter, her brother and the other half of the pop duo, The Carpenters

The idea behind the song ‘Superstar’ is that a touring rock god has abandoned his groupie, a girl who loves him. Karen Carpenter didn’t write it but she sang the hell out of it.
Controlled. One take.
Pining away for a peacock.

Richard Carpenter was addicted to quaaludes. He went to get treatment for it and while he was gone Karen made a secret record all by herself, but no one at the label liked it and it wasn’t released. It finally came out in 1996 or so. It’s pretty awful, but still, they could’ve let her release it.

“Karen Carpenter,” my father would mutter. “Dead at 32. Dead at 32. Dead at 32.”

Karen married a guy who spent all her money. She really wanted kids but her husband was fixed, he got a vasectomy before he met her. He didn’t tell her this until a few days before the wedding. And Karen’s mother, Agnes, wouldn’t let Karen call off the nuptials.

“There were times that I did lose my temper, but it was always out of love.”
–Richard Carpenter

Bangs can only do so much for you when you have a hole in your heart.
A jumpsuit can only do so much for you when you have a hole in your heart.

(a hole the approximate size of a super-deluxe condo in Century City)

Karen’s parents kept a bedroom for her in their California home. Even though she was thirty-two. She was found dead in that bedroom, in their home. That’s where they found her.