Saturday, December 13, 2008


I always liked Karen Carpenter, and not in an ironic, post-modern, cheesy, tongue-in-cheek way. I really liked her. There, I've said it. Not everything she did, of course, not the super corny "Top of the World," and not the silly "Close to Me" ("Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?") and generally not the big hits, but I'll risk losing my hard-earned hipster credentials (yes, I have an actual card) to confess that I like some of her ballads and I might even turn up the car radio when they play a couple. "Superstar," for example. Call it a guilty pleasure.

Karen Carpenter may have been square as a box of Apple Jacks, but she was the girl next door who played the drums and could sing. She was never Wendy O. of the Plasmatics and didn't try to be. Go ahead and laugh. That's what they did last night at the office Christmas party when I sang "Superstar" on the karaoke. I picked the song because it would be funny and yes, I got my cheap laugh, but underneath I always liked that song and maybe that came through because by the end there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Sure, it was from laughing, but even so, for one magical moment if you closed your eyes you could have believed Karen was there.

And maybe she was.

Evidently, some other tragically hip cave-dwellers liked Karen Carpenter, too. Here Sonic Youth performs "Tunic (song for Karen)." These experimental noise rockers give Karen a strange and beautiful tribute.

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