Yesterday while driving to an appointment, the Carpenter’s song, “Superstar” popped up on my favorite 70’s oldies station. (I know, I know. I do listen to other things, but music from that era is so full of feel-good moments, I can’t resist, even though I know dear daughter groans, still, at my choices.)

The DJ, introducing the beloved song, mentioned that yesterday was Karen Carpenter’s birthday, born on March 2, 1950.  Had she lived, she would’ve been 73 but, in my heart, she’s forever the songstress and chanteuse from my youth, a contributor to the soundtrack of my childhood. 

No song more than Superstar stunned me.  Even fifty-plus years later, her vocals, the arrangement of that particular song prompt tears.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s an example of Susan Cain’s ‘Bittersweet’ and the melancholy that can come from music.  I love ‘Superstar’, but I can’t think of a time that I’ve listened…really listened…without moist eyes.  Including yesterday, while driving.

When I got home last night, I picked a video from the array on YouTube to watch Karen Carpenter sing “Superstar” and the first one that popped was from a BBC concert in 1971.  Karen famously, and tragically died from complications from anorexia in 1983.  Despite reports and concerns about her health and weight loss prior to that concert, last night as I watched, tears came again – a mix of joy from the music combined with pain, so much pain, as I looked at her.  She was dying, right before our eyes.

My old album covers and memories of her are from earlier days in her career, times when she reportedly loathed herself for being ‘chubby’. Eating disorders scare me because of issues that ran rampant in my mother’s family but seeing Karen Carpenter in the video?  I’d forgotten how ill she began to look.  Were we all so mesmerized by her voice that we looked away?

For a few days this week, I’m going to remember her.  Listen to her music, lovingly and with my whole heart.  Her voice was a gift and much like early Elton John tunes, she’s tightly woven into memories that are more than a visual kaleidoscope.  I hear the songs…like Superstar…and they are evocative interludes of softer times.  

Vicki ❤

17 thoughts on “Crying in the Car

  1. Oh wow – what a Bittersweet post and topic, Vicki! You’ve so deftly handled the pain of watching someone suffer as well as the joy they bring with such amazing talent. Reminds me of the exhortation to be kind to all around because everyone is fight a tough battle. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks for this trip down memory lane, Vicki. My go-to songs that give me that same feeling are from the late 50s-early 60s, but you bring it all back with your well-expressed sentiments. I remember the Carpenters well, and also her tragic death. So many of our favorite stars have brought us so much joy but were privately suffering from the various stresses of stardom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Jane, for that sweet comment and for sharing my love of ‘special music’. I wish I could recall the source and the research…but something I read a few months ago described the power of music for children in their early teens…hardwiring happy music into our brains in those developmental stages. Ah, youth! And yes…you are so right. Tortured creative souls…brilliant, and as you said, so many suffered in ways both public and private. Cheers and hugs to you, my friend! 💕💕💕

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Karen’s death was the first time I heard about anorexia. Up until then I hadn’t known there was a name for girls who starved themselves. She’ll forever be in my mind a warning beckon of what can happen if you get too thin.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I had heard about Karen Carpenter and her story but didn’t really discover her music until later on. That Superstar song left a big impression on me too, but I knew it as a Luther Vandross song in high school.

    Either way- wow! 🤯

    Liked by 1 person

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