Monday, 16 November 2009

Rainy days...and Mondays

As I woke up to water leaking through my bedroom ceiling, I was reminded of my mother. She had an old cassette of The Carpenters that she insisted on playing in her clapped out old car - and Rainy Days and Mondays was her favourite track. I used to find this an intolerably unhappy song, but not any more.

My mother inherited a small selection of 8-track cassette tapes with her long defunct and impossibly un-stylish Vauxhall Viva car. On wet and miserable evenings, after working all day, she would pick me up at the railway station to give me driving lessons. I cringed in embarrassment at being seen in 'The Yellow Peril', as we listened together to The Carpenters.

As soon as the Rainy Days song started, I would whinge and moan about it being sad and depressing…However, due to some quirky fault of the car's electrical wiring, the play-speed of the cassette tape was unaccountably connected to the acceleration of the car. As the car went faster, so did the music, and Karen Carpenter sounded like she was on helium – and when we slowed down, her voice went into bass pitched slow motion. As the speed of the song changed, I became helpless with laughter - it was the most hilariously funny thing ever. My mother and I spent the dreaded driving sessions in fits of giggles, though it took me three further driving instructors and four attempts to finally pass my test (no women driver or blonde jokes please).

I grew to love the Carpenters' songs, even though they remind me of my mother. I know it’s horribly cheesy and sentimental but ‘We’ve only just begun’ reminds me of our journey through life together – and the fact that we both still have so much to learn. I think it’s a blessing that those of us who go through life being ‘strangers in many ways’ can find that our love grows through our mutual enjoyment of music – and its transcendence over the monotonous drudgery of everyday life.

They say that when a parent dies, you become more like them. Whilst I appreciate there may be some basis of evidence for this morbid prospect, my mother is thankfully still alive. Before she goes, I’d like her to know that, if I were to choose some funeral music for her, there’d be nothing more fitting than something by the Carpenters. I know she has a curious affection for the MacArthur Park song, ‘Someone Left the Cake out in the Rain’ – and I have fond recollections of making fairy and butterfly cakes with her (most probably on rainy days)...

But, as I get older, there does seem to be some sort of mother-daughter role reversal taking place and I find the words ‘From the day that you were born the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true, so they sprinkled moon dust in your hair and golden stardust in your eyes of blue' curiously appropriate.

Apologies for being overcome by nostaliga, when what I meant to do was to mention this Carpenters' era vintage 1970s Lucite disco bag from ShopCurious, which looks as though it’s been sprinkled with glittering golden dust.

Life is a curious thing and sparkly accessories are just the thing to cheer us up on rainy days... And, how about introducing musical Mondays, where we all share our favourite recordings – we’ve got ‘so much to say’ and our ‘love may grow, for all we know.’

Will you?


kate said...

Sigh...I'd give anything for a bright yellow car that played sped-up and slowed-down Carpenters. Kitsch, smoothness or ultra-popularity aside, Karen Carpenter's voice moves me like very little else in this world. Her sad, graceful voice hid yet revealed her lonely, confused existence in which she strived to be too perfect. Richard's arrangements were'nt half bad either, at least when he resisted contributing drugged-out sounding back-up vocals.

That is a darling memory that you and your mother share. Learning to drive is such a hallmark and always seems to be so connected to the music we use to calm ourselves into the task. I used to listen to bad trip-hop when first driving alone, but if my family was in the car, it was Dionne Warwick, who was in fact Karen Carpenter's biggest vocal inspiration.

abril en paris said...

The Carpenter's sweet music..and
souvenirs !! :-)
Lovely post.

Eri said...

I was waiting to tell you in person but here it go...

I think this post is one of the best ones because it really made me laught so much, as I was trying to picture you learning to drive...
...As it is also very lovely and full of nice memories.

See you soon.