Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season. Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.
So, this isn’t a perfect album–it’s a wildly self-indulgent attempt by Richard Carpenter to create a sort of Christmas Magnum Opus, a collection of songs that range from orchestral to pop. Much of it is brilliant, a bit of it isn’t–but all of it features the incredible, heart-breaking voice of Karen Carpenter. And let’s be a little honest here. I grew up on new wave and punk rock, but I am utterly and unapologetically in love with the tragic Karen Carpenter. I’m two steps removed from fantasies of traveling back in time to try and save her from herself–two small steps.
The centerpiece of this record is “Merry Christmas Darling,” and that’s sort of like saying the centerpiece of the solar system is the sun. It matters. A lot. In my mind, it’s the perfect Christmas song–romantic, sentimental, nostalgic, and a little sad. Combined with Karen’s honeyed voice, it’s a mind blowing creation. Pop music perfection.