57. The Carpenters
My mother first mentioned the Carpenters when I began treatment for an eating disorder. Karen Carpenter was a beautiful singer that you hear in many of the songs done by this family band. However, her talent was lost early when she died from anorexia nervousa in 1983 at 33-years-old. Back then, few treatments were available for people with eating disorders, and little was known about this illness. Plus, this singer struggled with her agent and other media members pressuring her to lose weight. Although she ended up dying from this struggle, I still look to her as a source of strength and inspiration. She reminds me of where I do not want to end up as well as the potential I have inside of me. Many of the Carpenters songs are cheery and sweet too. Because of this, I thought that they would work wonderfully to review this Monday.
- “(They Long to Be) Close to You” from their The Ultimate Collection album
- “At the End of a Song” from their Voice of the Heart album
- “Aurora” from their Horizon album
- “Bless the Beasts and the Children” from their A Song for You album
- “Don’t Be Afraid” from their From the Top album
Recovery Pluses: First of all, “(They Long to Be) Close to You” is a classic, sweet romance song that is typical of the Carpenters. What makes it special is how it extols the lovable quality of the singer’s love. Even birds want to be near this person. Having people (friends, family, etc) who love you and others is a wonderful blessing. Songs like this remind me that this is possible.
On a rather depressing note, “At the End of the Song” speaks honestly about how hard it can be to find joy in our lives. Many times, it does feel impossible to keep on living and smiling through the pain and craziness of each day. As this song mentions, endings make you feel alone “and there is nothing so hard as convincing your heart that you should start singing again.” This song mostly addresses life after a romantic love falls apart. However, it can applied to any struggle you are going through right now. Acknowledging the difficulty is important if you want to keep moving on with life.
A beautiful song about the morning and daily life, “Aurora” finds the singer awakening to the sunrise. Feelings of both trepidation and hope flow through this short song. She declares that “all my sadness is gone” with this new start as the gray world fills with color. Seeing each morning as a new start is a beautiful way to view life. This song would be lovely to awaken to so that I remember not to give up on myself before the day has finished.
A gentle prayer for those with no voices or ability to defend themselves, “Bless the Beasts and the Children” is a sweet song that stands up for those who are forgotten. However, there is no anger or frustration in this song. Instead, love and respect for all living creatures is begged of listeners. Hearing this makes me want to make a difference in the world by advocating and helping those who are struggling and feel unable to use their own voices.
Finally, “Don’t Be Afraid” begs the listener to not be afraid of falling in love. Yes, this can bring pain. However, much joy can enter your life when you open up and trust another person with your heart. As the song states, “it knows how to make you sing and it fills up your life with sunshine and joy.” Being willing to be vulnerable and feel love is difficult. However, it can bring true happiness when you let others into your life.
The tale of Karen Carpenter is very depressing. However, I believe that we can honor her memory by continuing to listen to her music. Steering clear of it in order to respect her seems a bit strange to me. Instead of seeing these songs as the product of a sick person, I hear them as a woman who battled mightily and tried her best to get free. In the end, she gave the world a great gift with her voice. Although her music makes me sad, it also gives me hope and courage to continue on with recovery..
- The Carpenters Website
- The Carpenters on IMDB
- The Carpenters on Facebook
- “(They Long to Be) Close to You” Music Video on YouTube
- “Bless the Beasts and the Children” Music Video on YouTube