Been thinking about Karen Carpenter today. Isn't this just the best?
Poor Karen, the submissive misfit in a controlling, perfectionistic family. Here's a frail looking Karen playing a huge drum solo on the Carpenters' 1976 TV special:
In the typically dull world of easy listening, Karen Carpenter really stands out as someone with great talent and passion for music, inserting both pathos and intensity into her singing and playing. She also appears to have been someone who never quite fit into that rigid, clean cut and repressed world and who was emotionally damaged in part by that realization. The sadness and the difficulties she faced seem to have been channeled into her creative endeavors, which no doubt added to her capability and appeal, but anorexia withered her away to the bone and she finally passed away due to its complications in 1983.
There's an interesting documentary about the Carpenters that's available on DVD, Close To You: Remembering the Carpenters, which in my memory is notable for Richard Carpenters' closed-offedness, constant creepy smiling and refusal to admit or recognize much of anything that might have been tragic or difficult throughout the career he and his sister had.
In 1987, Todd Haynes directed a short film about Karen Carpenter called Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, in which her story is portrayed entirely with Barbies and stop-motion. I've still never watched it myself, but copies float through Amoeba occasionally, though it is out of print.
The Carpenters live in the pop vocals section here at Amoeba.