Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yesterday once more


I may have told you this story before, but in lieu of recent events, here it is again.

Eighth grade, English class, Halls Middle School. I hear the most beautiful voice wafting through the cracks in the dual classroom's partitioned wall. The social studies students next door were watching a documentary about the '70s.


Long ago, and oh, so far away, I fell in love with you before the second show...


My heart jumped into my throat. Chills ran up my spine. Birds sang. Bells rang.

And, right then and there, I fell in love with Karen Carpenter.

Hers was a rare gift, that voice precious and pitch-perfect, intimate, awesome. I thought she was singing straight to my soul.

I bought a Greatest Hits disc and began to appreciate Richard's incredible arrangements as well as Karen's angelic articulation. Soon, I bought every one of The Carpenters' A&M albums as well as a couple of imports, the box set and the recordings Richard released after Karen's tragic death. (You know that story, no doubt.)

I wrote to Richard Carpenter in 1995 or '96. His longtime secretary Evelyn Wallace sent me a sealed vinyl copy of The Carpenters' last studio album, "Made in America." I never opened it.

Yesterday, my friend Amy brought me some rare Carpenters recordings, including ones stripped down to the center channel. Oh. My. God.

I told my friend Chuck it used to bug me to no end whenever a Carpenters record would finish playing on the radio and the disc jockey (remember those?) would say, "And that was Karen Carpenter..."

I would yell, "Well, what about Richard, jackass?"

He's never gotten just due for his genius and that's a damn shame.

Hurry, quick, go watch this concert on YouTube, recorded in Budokan, Japan, in 1974. Savor it. Or devour it. Just go listen.

Call them square, I don't care. If you say that you're just proving you're cynical or stupid or, worse, can't appreciate good music when you hear it.

Yes, I fell in love with Karen Carpenter on a day that does seem long ago and oh so far away. I remember it now and will cherish it forever. That moment is mine and even today, whenever I hear that voice, just like before, it's yesterday once more.

Shoobie doo lang lang.

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