Friendships - “Sometimes” by Henry Mancini - The Carpenters
Updated: Apr 29
It would seem that during this time our friendships would fall by the wayside because we cannot see each other. But even though we have to physically distance ourselves from each other, we don’t have to emotionally distance. People need people. We are fortunate to live in an era where there are so many ways to stay in touch with each other and see each other on a screen. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, FB Messenger - there are so many ways to connect! And with anyone! Both local and faraway; recent friends, and friends from long ago. And we can even have more than one person on our screens at a time! Lots has changed in my lifetime. I remember when TV had only 4 channels and telephones had long springy cords. And that was pretty much all there was for communication!
As I have mentioned before, I have music running in my head all the time. And sometimes, I believe God plants things in there, particularly songs. Well, last week, it was this one. I thank Him for bringing this song back to me. I still had the words memorized.
This song brings back a special memory. I think it was 1971, or maybe 1972, I got a new stereo “hi-fi” from Santa (thank you, Mom, who understood that this little musician needed to listen!) The cool thing was that my little stereo set came with HEADPHONES. And it was mine alone - I could listen to music in my own room, not downstairs in the living room.
My records came to new life when I put those headphones on. That Christmas day, I got out my favorite album, “Close to You,” donned the headphones, and was blown away. Karen’s chocolate-y voice was richer than I had ever heard, and I couldn’t help singing along with the songs I knew so well. Of course, I learned later that my family had been laughing hysterically at me. I couldn’t hear myself - because my ears were covered with that Princess Leia headset - but I could feel my voice singing, and I just felt like I was her!
“Sometimes” was not on the album, “Close to You," which was their first breakout record in 1970 - 50 years ago! It’s at the end of Side Two of their beige-colored album, simply entitled, “Carpenters,” which came out in 1971. What I didn’t remember is that it was written by one of my favorite movie composers, Henry Mancini. Even if you don’t recognize his name, you know his work: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, (Moon River), Silver Streak, Baby Elephant Walk, all of the Pink Panther movies, Charade, Love Story, and the Thorn Birds, just to mention a few! The words to the song, “Sometimes”were written by one of his daughters, Felice. She wrote a little poem for one of her friends, and her father was so taken with it that he set it to music.
Karen Carpenter’s voice is, as Marty puts it, “like warm milk chocolate.” Her range is low for a female, and combining the fullness of her voice with perfect clarity is unsurpassed by no one. Nothing comes close to her sound, before or since. Upon hearing her first note, you’re mesmerized. Her inflections reveal the honesty of the human and musician she was. In this song, her brother Richard sets up her entrance with a beautiful keyboard introduction.
You won’t need to see these lyrics printed, because her diction is so clear, but reading them might tell you why Henry thought this poem needed to become a song.
"Sometimes, not often enough,
We reflect upon the good things.
And those thoughts always center
Around those we love.
And I think about those people
Who mean so much to me,
And for so many years have made me
So very happy.
And I count the times I have forgotten to say,
And just how much I love them."
I hope this will inspire you to go “Zoom” or “FaceTime” a friend, old or new. Have dinner together - put your laptop or tablet at the end of the dining room table and share a meal! For fun, plan the same menu and make a date. Or just pick up your phone - whether it’s a cell, or has a curly thing coming out of the end of the handset - it will still allow for you to reach out to a friend!
I would like to dedicate this post to two dear people:
To Connie Michael, my H.S. BFF, to whom I first sang this in a coffee house at Interlochen.
And to our colleague, Loren Kitt, former principal clarinetist with the National Symphony Orchestra, who adored Karen as much as I do.