Stress-Busters, “Superstar” and the Mellifluous Voice of Karen Carpenter

Well, it’s safe to say that stress levels are running at an all-time high in my workplace. The conversion to a LEAN working environment is making the carrying out of normal duties nigh impossible as on an hourly basis, the tools of our trade, namely desks, shelving, files and stationery are being shipped out to that mythical warehouse, where items that do not fit the modern day workplace, end their days. Considering I am having to re-apply for my own job in this brave new world, I’m starting to worry that I am also going to end up in that mythical warehouse – Mr WIAA may well have to send out a search party. But, being serious, it will probably be great when it’s all finished, it’s just that I’m not a great handler of stress and yesterday’s migraine (of the ziggy-zaggy variety) proved it.

stress head

Very recently I admitted on these pages that I seem to have now found myself addicted to blogging. The feedback was very much of the opinion however that it can also be seen as a great stress-buster – Last night, at 10pm, I decided to test that theory out. I am happy to say that after an hour of visiting my favourite blogs and leaving a few comments (although a mere nano-second after posting something I always wish I’d worded it better or corrected the grammar – I hope I’m not alone in this), I was indeed feeling a lot less stressed. I had the best nights sleep I’ve had all week and thus handled today’s chaos of moving to a LEAN and orderly workplace, a lot better. Thank you then fellow-bloggers, the stress-busting theory does seem to work.

Music of course is another great stress-buster and for me, in my current situation, it had to come from the world of – as the Americans call it – Adult Contemporary. On the way home from work I needed a bit of Karen Carpenter to smooth my furrowed brow. She had the most wonderfully soothing singing voice as she was a contralto, the lowest female voice type. I must also be a contralto then, as whenever I tried to sing chart hits when growing up, those Carpenter songs were the ones I seemed to master best – I could even do that twiddly key changing bit that sounds like yodelling (although there is probably a technical term for it). On the odd occasion a karaoke machine appears at an event, I always start off by refusing point blank to sing, BUT, after a few drinks I end up having to have the mic forcibly removed from my hand once my Karen Carpenter repertoire kicks in. (Although my versions of her songs are a pale imitation of course.)

thAKM9ARXG

The only downside to listening to The Carpenters back catalogue is that the lyrics are all just so damn melancholy – There was Goodbye To Love, Rainy Days and Mondays, Yesterday Once More and Solitaire. Even the jaunty upbeat songs somehow ended up sounding sad at the hands of Karen and brother Richard (Top of the World, Please Mr Postman). As a fan I do enjoy a wallow in all of that sadness from time to time but not to be recommended as a regular pastime.

I have still not really come to terms with how she lost her grasp on life at the very young age of 32 due to complications arising from the illness anorexia nervosa. I was still a child when The Carpenters first started appearing on television but over the years even I noticed the dramatic change in her appearance and wondered what on earth was going on. We knew so little about that particular illness back then and the solution offered up by her management was that she wear a jacket on stage – It now beggars belief but those of course were far less enlightened times although even today, with an early diagnosis, there is not always a positive outcome.

Superstar by The Carpenters:

This afternoon however I just wanted to hear a little bit of that mellifluous singing voice and of late, the Carpenters‘ song I am drawn to most is Superstar from 1971 – It is about a brief liaison with a rock star who has now moved on to the next town. The girl is sad, lonely and yearning for him to return but it still sounds just so beautiful at the hands of the singing maestro that was Karen Carpenter.

So, “What’s It All About?” – As a stress-buster, blogging certainly does seem to have its place but so does listening to music and thankfully we all have our own particular favourites for that function. The Carpenters were never seen as “cool” but no-one could deny their talent and Karen’s voice certainly eases my stress. Grammy Award winners The Starland Vocal Band were never seen as “cool” either, but their 1976 solution for stress was adopted by the Taco Bell people who of course realised that all the LEAN office needs is the occasional opportunity to head out for a tasty snack! I give you, Afternoon Delight.

Superstar Lyrics
(Song by Leon Russell/Bonnie Bramlett)

Long ago, and, oh, so far away
I fell in love with you before the second show
Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear
But you’re not really here, it’s just the radio

Don’t you remember, you told me you loved me baby?
You said you’d be coming back this way again baby
Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby
I love you, I really do

Loneliness is such a sad affair
And I can hardly wait to be with you again
What to say to make you come again?
Come back to me again and play your sad guitar

Don’t you remember, you told me you loved me baby?
You said you’d be coming back this way again baby
Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby
I love you, I really do

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

13 thoughts on “Stress-Busters, “Superstar” and the Mellifluous Voice of Karen Carpenter”

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about the stress at work – and the reasons behind it which just seem so at odds with what I think of as a positive working environment and situation. Re-applying for your own job too – I went through that situation once some years ago and it seemed so flawed (those who were good at writing/speaking in the style they knew the bosses were looking for, using all the right jargon, etc. and selling themselves, regardless of how they did their jobs, had an immediate advantage over those who may have actually been better at their jobs but were less able to explain it well or more modest!) Anyway I do hope all goes well for you (something tells me you’re both very good at your job and very good at articulating what you do!) and also that you can still smuggle in some post-it notes! I feel less and less in touch with the modern-day office now and doubt I’d ever be able to get a job in one again, so I am full of admiration for you.
    But – what a lovely testament to the therapeutic power of blogging! CC’s comment above too is a lovely one to remember. It does feel as if we have our own virtual support network full of understanding and undemanding souls. It doesn’t get much better.
    Heard ‘Afternoon Delight’ not long ago – was it on Car Share? or something else on TV, or an advert? – I can’t remember – but it took me right back to hearing it on the radio when it was current. I don’t think I knew what it meant then, and the only stationery cupboards I knew at the time were at my (all girls) school so no afternoon delight in them then, just musty exercise books and – my god, this ages me – bottles of Quink!

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    1. Thanks for the concern – I am probably making it sound worse than it is but absolute mayhem at the moment. We are being given the option of buying the office furniture at a knock down price as well so I thought it would be a good idea to refurb our home office but sadly everything is just a bit too big. You are right though we’re all going to sneak in pencil cases and post-it notes – Will have to buy myself an oversized handbag! As for applying for my own job, it is more of a technicality, as we should all be mapped to the new structure but I left it far too late last Sunday to finish the form – #procrastination as blogging took priority!

      Did think recently that I was perhaps spending too much time in the blogosphere but as you say, CC’s comment makes sense – A virtual network of understanding souls.

      I think you are right, Afternoon Delight did appear in something recently and like you I probably didn’t “get it” first time around – Love the sound of the school stationery cupboards though and had to read out that paragraph to Mr WIAA as there is nothing we like more than a shelf full of Quink, Lettraset, propelling pencils and colourful paperclips – Sadly will no longer feature in my office come next week.

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  2. Yes, I want to correct my grammar as soon as I’ve written anything: curse of being an English teacher.

    Can’t go wrong with either of those tunes, but I always thought Afternoon Delight was about having a big dish of Angel Delight. I mean, that would cheer up any afternoon, wouldn’t it? I presume that’s what you’re all referring to…

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    1. Turns out that afternoon delight is also about having a Taco Bell with your Angel Delight which is a bit of a shame as we just don’t have them up here.

      Wonder if any of them are made by Matheson-Beaumont or its subsidiaries? – That would be Peculiar!

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  3. The melancholy Carpenters music took on a new meaning for me after I watched Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988), which was how I found out about her battle with anorexia. The characters are presented as modified Barbie dolls, yet it still resonates emotionally. Really a film about all women, because there is an unspoken expectation in our culture that thin is beautiful. You can probably find it on YouTube, about 40 min long.
    Good to hear blogging and commenting has an anti-stress effect, I can agree on that.

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    1. Will have a look for that one – To be honest I found it hard to listen to their music for quite some time as not only were the songs so melancholy but I was also just so sad at how she lost her life to that illness. Looking back so little about it was known back then and even now not easy to help someone who is afflicted. Social media has a lot to answer for, as teenage girls in particular, are bombared with totally unrealistic but stunning profile pictures of their peers. When you then meet these girls in real life you realise it was all the work of photoshop or some such tool. Doesn’t help that even Beyonce and the like are known to have their pictures doctored – a shallow world we live in which is why I perhaps like this so much as it is all about finding like-minded souls with the same interests.

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      1. I love it that you’re addicted to blogging and absolutely admire your honesty when writing.

        My Karen Carpenter moment has to be when she sings Ticket to Ride; her voice tugs at the heartstrings in a way not many other female vocalists can – in fact, after Christine Collister I can’t think of many more that ‘do it’ for me in quite the same way.

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        1. I don’t think the rest of my family love that I’m addicted to blogging! – A very large laundry basket of ironing awaits me this evening. As for the honesty, I’m writing for people I don’t know and will probably never meet (although it turns out bloggers sometimes do meet up!) so quite easy really – You are so encumbered when family and friends read your stuff and highly unlikely they would find me by accident.

          As for Ticket to Ride – sublime at the hands of Ms Carpenter. Another of my favourites although again just so melancholy.

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