This Post Is Not About "Vertigo" …Not Exactly…

It’s about Karen Carpenter. Think of her as Madeleine Elster in Vertigo. The woman that Scottie Ferguson trails and then loses. She’s the blonde at far left.

It’s about Richard Carpenter, the multi-talented pianist/ arranger/ composer/ conductor who released a 1998 CD titled Richard Carpenter: Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Conductor. Think of him as Scottie Ferguson, the man in the middle of the Kim Novak sandwich above.

And it’s about Akiko Kobayashi. Think of her as Judy Barton, the woman that Scottie successfully transforms into a virtual Madeleine Elster. It would be very difficult to physically transform Akiko Kobayashi into Karen Carpenter. But in the recording studio, it’s another story.

Akiko, born in Tokyo in 1958, was an established singer with five albums to her credit when she came to the U.S. to record City of Angels in 1988. How Richard Carpenter came to be the producer for that album, we do not know. Akiko had been a fan of the Carpenters, so it’s possible that she sought Richard out. Richard Carpenter selected the songs for the album, arranged them, recorded them and played keyboards on every single one of the ten tracks. Carpenter also wrote one of the five songs Akiko sings in English on the CD, How Could I Ask For More, with lyrics by John Bettis, who had previously collaborated with Carpenter on hit songs like “Top of the World,” “Goodbye To Love,” and “Yesterday Once More.”

For my money, it’s the closest anyone has ever come to channeling the departed in a recording. It is a Carpenters record made five years after Karen’s sad death. It is the audio equivalent of the Vertigo scene where the fully transformed Judy Barton emerges as a perfect Madeleine… the verisimilitude is more than a little spooky. The song’s opening background vocals give hardcore Carpenters fans the shivers… and cause them to forget, at times, exactly to whom they’re listening.

How Could I Ask For More

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