Long ago and oh so far away

“I’ve seen enough groupies hanging around to sense their loneliness, even though they usually don’t show it. I can’t really understand them, but I just tried to feel empathy and I guess that’s what came across in the song.” – Karen Carpenter, referring to her lack of personal experience with the song she and her brother had just had a huge hit with, in a 1972 interview.

With the title “Groupie (Superstar)” when it was first released in 1969 the song was originally credited to Delaney & Bonnie and Friends featuring Eric Clapton.  Though not mentioned by name, among those “friends” were Leon Russell and then-backup singer, Rita Coolidge, who is believed to have provided the inspiration for the song and whose version (now called, “Superstar”) was featured on Joe Cocker’s live album, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” in 1970.

Although he was unaware of either version of the song, Richard Carpenter heard Bette Midler perform it on the “Tonight Show” and despite the fact that his sister had heard the other versions and didn’t much care for it, Carpenter could barely wait to arrange it…while altering a few lyrics to make it less risqué.

Recorded in L.A. with the almighty “Wrecking Crew” backing her up for the session, Karen Carpenter used the lyrics her brother had scribbled on a napkin and recorded her vocal in a single take, which is normally referred to as the “work lead” and is what the other musicians usually use for guidance iafter they’ve been through it once.  No matter, The Carpenters version rose all the way to Number 2 on the Billboard Charts in 1971.

A decade later, in 1981, Sonic Youth was formed in New York, its name chosen in response to the popular Reggae trend of featuring “Youth” in a band’s name, and to honor the recently departed Fred “Sonic” Smith of the metal group, MC5. Now considered to be among “the first wave of American noise rock groups,” the members of Sonic Youth claimed to have been greatly influenced by Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Iggy Pop and ……The Carpenters (!)

This rather interesting (and idiosyncratic) version of the song first credited to Delaney & Bonnie and Friends et al. was featured on the 1994 tribute album  “If I Were a Carpenter”.

LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Friday 22 March 

 Superstar

Long ago

And oh so far away

I fell in love with you

Before the second show

Your guitar

It sounds so sweet and clear

But you’re not really there

It’s just the radio

 Don’t you remember you told me you love me Baby?

You said you’d be coming back this way again Baby

Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, oh Baby

I love you, I really do

Loneliness, is such a sad affair

And I can hardly wait

To be with you again

What to say

To make you come again

Come back to me again

And play your sad guitar

 Don’t you remember you told me you love me Baby?

You said you’d be coming back this way again Baby

Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, oh Baby

I love you, I really do

 Don’t you remember you told me you love me Baby?

You said you’d be coming back this way again Baby

Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, oh Baby

I love you, I really do

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