I was in a bookstore the other day, and reading a book about the most depressing songs ever. And one of them happened to be Karen Carpenter's "Goodbye to Love". I found out that "Goodbye to Love" was her favourite song, and what struck me most was what the author had written about a picture of hers, of the Carpenters, together, which was in the book. The both of them look so happy, and that's what it would seem, save for the writer adding, "Now we know the truth of that picture. He was happy. She was not." I looked up the lyrics to "Goodbye to Love" - and, let's just say, that it has a very well-deserved place in that book.
I never really knew much about the Carpenters when I was young. Youth is a time when names don't seem so important, when you're happy to listen to a song for what it is, not what it's about, or who it's sung by. The first Carpenters' song I can truly remember knowing as a Carpenters' song is "Rainy Days and Mondays". And when I got a little older I knew about Karen Carpenter's death from anorexia and it was no more than peripheral knowledge, then - something that you know, but never think about, because you don't connect it with anything else.
But as I grew up I slowly realised that many of the songs I loved were Carpenters' songs, and what struck me about them is how happy some of them were. They sung, "Yesterday Once More", "We've Only Just Begun", and "Top of the World".
"Top of the World" has been one of my favourite songs since I was a girl, and the reason I'm writing this now is that I was walking home today and it was such a beautiful day. It had just stopped raining, and the sky was a clear blue, and you could feel that rain had been in the air. The afternoon sun made the leaves of the trees on the avenue I was walking on glow with light, and that with the quiet sense of life in the air made me remember this song. It's a song that always lifts me up whenever I hear it, because - to me - it's so clearly a song about the wonder there is in the world and the happiness that can be found in just simply being alive, and what a precious gift it is - and we rarely even think about it! About what a gift it is to be alive in this world, despite all that can and does go wrong, how much there is to love and cherish in this world.
It just made made me think about the strange irony of someone who sung a song like that having a life that was as hers was.
And it's just - it makes you wonder, about someone who could sound so happy when she truly was so sad.