Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Groovy Giveaway: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter
Courtesy of Chicago Review Press, this week I'm giving away two copies of Randy Schmidt's book, Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter, which offers us an intimate profile of the lead singer of the top-selling American musical act of the 1970s.
Little Girl Blue reveals Karen’s heartbreaking struggles with her mother, brother and husband; the intimate disclosures she made to her closest friends; her love for playing drums and her frustrated quest for solo stardom; and the ups and downs of her treatment for anorexia nervosa. After her shocking death at age 32 in 1983, she became the proverbial poster child for that disorder - but the other causes of her decline are laid bare for the first time in this moving account. Little Girl Blue is Karen Carpenter’s definitive biography, based on exclusive interviews with her innermost circle of girlfriends and nearly 100 others, including childhood friends, professional associates and lovers.
When did you first become a fan of Karen Carpenter?
At the age of 13. I watched The Karen Carpenter Story on CBS and fell in love with Karen’s voice and story all at once. I’d never responded in such a manner to any singer’s voice and haven’t since.
What inspired you to write Little Girl Blue?
I spent a number of years researching and collecting articles, interviews, concert reviews and such, but that was really just to satisfy my own curiosity. I never went into it with the intention of writing a book. At some point in the 1990s I became somewhat on an unofficial internet Carpenters guru and established a nice rapport with the fan community. Fast forward to 2001, I took advantage of an opportunity to interview one of Karen’s childhood friends without knowing where it would go or how it would be used. One led to another and another and by 2008 I knew I had enough material for a book. See, I had been waiting and waiting for someone to write the Karen Carpenter bio I wanted to read, but no one seemed to be writing it. I’d learned a lot from Ray Coleman’s 1994 The Carpenters: The Untold Story, but I was also left with lots of questions. It was authorized by the Carpenter family under the heavy editorial control of brother Richard. With Little Girl Blue I sought to connect the dots, so to speak - fill in the gaps - and to bring some life and humanity to her story.
Is there anything that you learned about Karen that surprised you while writing the book?
Most surprising were the sad details of Karen’s marriage. Her close friends came together to finally set the record straight in Little Girl Blue on what happened. Quite often I’ll get feedback from readers who react rather strongly to this information. Some are angry and want revenge against those who wronged Karen. Others tell me they feel a sense of closure in finding out what really went wrong after years of speculation. It was a series of unfortunate events beginning with Karen’s shelving of a solo album, which was really a failed attempt to spread her wings both musically and emotionally. It snowballed into what ended with her death on February 4, 1983. Thirty years ago this February 4th.
What are your Top 5 favorite Carpenters songs?
It’s an ever-changing list - a mix of hits and lesser known gems - but #1 is always my #1.
2. "Road Ode"
3. "I Can’t Make Music"
4. "Only Yesterday"
5. "Rainy Days and Mondays"
What's next for Randy Schmidt?
I have several Carpenters related projects working, but I am also involved in several unrelated projects right now, too. One is an illustrated history of Hollywood’s Earl Carroll Theatre. More specifically it’s the story of Mr. Carroll and his star showgirl and longtime companion Beryl Wallace. It’s an epic story set in the most glamorous years of Hollywood that ended with the tragic deaths of Earl and Beryl in a plane crash in 1948. Another project is a “Judy Garland on Judy Garland” type of book. It’s an in-her-own-words look at Garland, and just about the only approach that hasn’t been done with her story. Her perspective is entertaining, to say the least!
To enter to win this Groovy Giveaway, email your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners must have a US mailing address, and entries close at midnight on Thursday, January 24 (CST).