Sunday, November 15, 2009
Karen Carpenter and the Nick Drake effect
The 40th anniversary of the start of The Carpenters' career has been marked by a publicity push, revining some ancient meoroies. Although their music is some distance from my usual fare, I could recognise the quaility of production, good choise of song, pop craftsmanship and, above all, Karen's warm and clear voice. However, there is a major challenge to fully enjoying the music now, as a result of an inversion of teh Nick Drake effect. Nick's death, as a result of an accidental or deliberate overdose on his depression medication, has cast a retrospective sincerity and dignity over his all too scanty recorded output, adding a layer of irony to his musings on confusion, isolation and world weariness. In contrast, the knowledge that Karen died of anorexia, anxious and unhappy, makes it hard, or indeed impossible, to enjoy the optimism and joie de vivre that marked the Carpenters' best work, often in tesnion with the lyrical content.