The Carpenters, sister Karen and brother Richard, sang sweetly, and almost always about love. Richard played the keyboards and provided the harmony. Karen sang the lead and – I never knew this – also played the drums.
I remember the Carpenters on the radio, back in the 1970s. Even then I felt that Karen and Richard looked sweet and sang sweet, and they were wonderfully skilled at what they did. But. Sweet love songs are like chocolates in a box: one is great, two is also good, but you don’t really want to eat the whole lot in one go.
In fairness, I only know the hits. Maybe, on their albums, the Carpenters provided some light and shade, and the odd gritty song of social protest. But I suspect not. Sweet love songs were their thing, and even on the two sides of this battered old single, released in 1971, they tend to sound a bit the same.
This is a bridge moment from the A side, “For All We Know”:
This is the start of the B side, “Don’t Be Afraid”:
Same sentiment, same harmony, same sound. Slightly different tempo.
“She died of something, didn’t she?” asked a friend when I mentioned the Carpenters. We all do, eventually, but yes, Karen Carpenter died young, only 32, of heart failure caused by anorexia. She and her brother had become superstars very young, and in the early 1970s were queen and king of romantic soft rock. Fame and Wealth are popular guys, but bad company, especially for the young. Just ask the Jacksons.
Of the songs on this single, I prefer “Don’t Be Afraid”, which is an exhortation to live and love boldly, take risks. The sad thing is that Karen Carpenter, at any rate, never really knew the love of which she sang.
- Artist: The Carpenters
- Single Title: For All We Know
- Track: Side B “Don’t Be Afraid”
- Format: 7”, 45 rpm
- Label: A&M Records, AMK-4129
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1971
Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs