The Carpenters – “Superstar”

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If one had to sit and create a list of some of the most beautifully songs ever written, this song would be right up there at the top of that list. Written by the late Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett, the song, which is about a woman who falls for a rock star, has a tryst with him, but then in a bout of delusion awaits his return, apparently falling for it when he said he loved her. Released in 1971 on their “The Carpenters” album, the song peaked at #2 on the U.S. billboard. Karen with her incredibly strong and crystal-clear voice set this song on fire. With a voice that was very distinctive, it was easy to understand each lyric she sang. She and Richard put their touch on this song, made it there own and created a Timeless hit!

The word “Groupie” was just entering the lexicon when Russell and Bramlett wrote this song in 1969; Rolling Stone popularized it when they titled the cover story of their February 15, 1969 issue “The Groupies and Other Girls.” Groupies were often romanticized and admired for their style and fashion, but they were also at times denigrated as rock star playthings with a loose grip on reality, which is how they are portrayed in this song.

Delaney & Bonnie were the first to record this song, releasing it as the B-side of their 1969 single “Comin’ Home.” At the time, the song was called “Groupie (Superstar).” Rita Coolidge then began performing the song on Joe Cocker’s 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. A young Better Midler started performing the song later in the year, and Richard Carpenter heard the song for the first time when Bette Midler performed it on The Tonight Show. Richard knew it could be a hit for the Carpenters, so he reworked the song in their style and recorded it, resulting in the most successful version. (Thanks to Dan Levitin, who got this from an interview with Richard Carpenter.)

A line in the second verse was considered too lyrically risqué at the time and was changed by Richard Carpenter to better fit the duo’s image. The Carpenters’ version of the lyric, “And I can hardly wait to be with you again” is “And I can hardly wait to sleep with you again” in the original version.

Richard Carpenter received a Grammy award nomination for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist for this song. It was the second of five nominations Carpenter received for his arrangements. He didn’t win any, although this is an impressive accomplishment.

When the Carpenters version became a hit, Bette Midler took some shots at Karen Carpenter, often mocking her wholesome image. Karen claimed the jokes didn’t bother her; after her death, Midler apologized in Redbook magazine, saying she often thinks of Karen.

In 1987, a movie called Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story was released and shown at film festivals. The director, Todd Haynes, didn’t secure the rights to the songs, and the film was pulled after Richard Carpenter filed suit.

 

SONG LYRICS –

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 here, it’s just the radio

Don’t you remember, you told me you loved 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 loved 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 loved 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

Writer/s: LEON RUSSELL, BONNIE BRAMLETT

6 thoughts on “The Carpenters – “Superstar”

  1. This takes me back to a child…my sister had their greatest hits. Karen and her brother were talented.
    I’m sure Bette’s comments did hurt her…she seemed to be super sensitive considering what happened to her.

    1. It takes me back too. She and her brother were amazing and yes, she sure was super sensitive. A person has to be tough-skinned to be in that business or you will get run over like a mac truck.
      Karen had the voice of angels and was also a talented drummer! I’m sure Bette felt truly awful for what she said.

      1. After reading your post…I googled it and Bette did feel terrible and apologized to her family.
        Some producer or manager I remember reading told her she was fat…she was NEVER fat in her life when they performed. Just a terrible thing to say.

          1. Yes that was good of her to do. She always seemed like a good person…I’m sure she was doing the same as everyone else…like people did to the Waltons and others back then