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Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Drummer Who Sang

I listen to oldies more than contemporary songs. I think it's partly due to the sentimental reason that I used to hear them. When I was a kid, my Dad would play the music from his era right after he came home from work. That aside, for the fact that oldies stand the test of time, they must be lyrically and musically good. One definitely can't go wrong with, let's say, songs from Bee Gees, ABBA or John Denver.

As I'm into oldies, it's only natural that I will bring the music to my daughter's life, be it intentional or not. When she was a baby, I sang Love Comes to Everyone by George Harrison as I put her to bed. When she was two, it was Good Night from the Beatles. As he grew older and discovered a Christmas song called Mary's Boy Child, we watched Boney M together (sorry, Harry Belafonte). When her mother bought her an album full of Christian songs, I introduced her to Mahalia Jackson's gospel version of Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho. For her rock music education, I showed her the video of Layla, where the intro played by Eric Clapton shocked the bass player, and she loved it so much since then.

Recently, as I was having my dinner, my daughter Linda came to me while humming a tune that was immediately recognized by me. It was Top of the World. She told me that she heard of it at school. Apparently the school showed the video (a version with cartoon drawings and sung by kids) to students and, as it was a catchy song, Linda loved it right away. I was intrigued by this and personally impressed by how the lyrics suddenly sounded so different thanks to its childlike innocence quality when sung by a bunch of kids. We talked about it and I explained to her that it was actually an old song by a band called the Carpenters. Then I showed her the real deal.

As the YouTube video played, we saw Karen, drumming and singing at the same time. It'd been a while since I listened to the Carpenters and, to quote the band itself, it was like yesterday once more. The inimitable voice of Karen Carpenter, the moment you heard it, you'd know for sure it was unmistakably hers. It wasn't exactly high or strong, but the quality was soothing and endearing, it was as if she was at ease by not trying too hard but having some fun while doing that. The joy was infectious.

I told Linda about how special Karen's voice was, not knowing for sure if she actually understood what I was saying. Then we talked about her drumming, which was kind of rare for a girl her to drum, especially during that era, but Karen managed to do that. In fact, she was, by her own admission, a drummer who sang. As we looked at her pictures where she lost weight due to anorexia, I got carried away by talking about how she struggled with her short life and eventually died at a very young age.

I paused for a while afterwards, wondering if I had crossed the line by telling her about death. Sensing that I'd reached the point of no return, I told her that is life. Even though Karen was a star, she wasn't without problems. However, we remember her for the great moments that she had shared with us when she was alive. The world is a better place today because of her talents.

Then we went on with Yesterday Once More. I surely had to introduce my daughter the Carpenters' greatest hit! As I heard Karen singing, I got teary, really. Her voice brought me back to the day when my wife and I took our pre-wedding picture. I remember sitting there on the bridge when the sun was slowly setting. As I looked at my beautiful future wife, the only things that kept replaying in my mind was Close to You and We've Only Just Begun, both from the Carpenters...

We've only just begun...

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