Letters: Remembering Karen Carpenter

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Audie Cornish and Robert Siegel read emails from listeners about the late singer Karen Carpenter.


Time, now, for your letters about some music from the past. Earlier this week, we bid farewell to the brand name Muzak, best known for its instrumental, bland, elevator music. The company announced Tuesday that it would now be known as Mood - after Mood Media, Muzak's owner.


Well, Bob Nicol of Wilmington, North Carolina, tells us that Muzak was one of the only things to keep him company while stationed overseas in Okinawa, in the 1970s. He learned to love Muzak's Hawaiian tunes, but he writes: The best use we made of the Muzak sound system in the three years I was there, was when we patched it into the Armed Forces Network broadcast of Richard Nixon's resignation address. That being an unauthorized feed linking our station to the outside world, I was happy, as security officer, to grant temporary access.

CORNISH: Also this week, we remembered Karen Carpenter, of the sibling duo The Carpenters.


THE CARPENTERS: (Singing) Talking to myself and feeling old...

CORNISH: She died 30 years ago this week. Joe Walker of Portland, Oregon, says he had the chance to perform with her back in 1973. The Carpenters were on tour, and used local schoolchildren for their "Sesame Street" hit, "Sing."

SIEGEL: Mr. Walker was one of them, and he writes this: The lights were overwhelming, and the sound of a hit touring band was something I'd never heard or felt before. But the roar of 10,000 people from my hometown was what blew me away. Karen was a complete professional - a crowd-pleaser, and a great singer. The show was a highlight of my young life. Over the years, I've defended her many times in many different crowds, not just for her marvelous voice but for a time that's long gone; and for an innocence that left long before I fell under the spell of Led Zeppelin and such. Thank you, Karen, for the role you played for all of us. Thirty years later, you're still missed.

CORNISH: Thanks for the memories, and your letters. And please keep them coming. Just go to npr.org, and click on Contact Us.


THE CARPENTERS: (Singing) What I feel has come and gone before. No need to talk it out. We know what it's all about...

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