Carpenters – Now (Karen Carpenter’s LAST recording)


In June 1981, Karen and Richard released “Made In America” and made a world tour to promote the album with appearances in Brazil and Germany. In November of that year, she and Richard returned home to California. Karen and her husband Tom Burris formally separated that same month. Shortly after Christmas, Karen moved to New York to begin treatment for her anorexia. She sought treatment with psychotherapist Steven Levenkron who was noted for his research into anorexia nervosa and self injury.

In April 1982, she took a two-week vacation from her treatment and returned home to California. She and Richard returned to the studio and recorded several songs, including this song, “Now.”. At the time of this recording, Karen was heavily anorexic. Richard says she had lost even more weight since the last time he had seen her the year before. Karen returned to New York and stayed there until November 1982. During a two-month stay in a hospital, she was fed intravenously and gained 30 pounds. She returned home for Thanksgiving that year. Although she felt that she was cured, Richard says she just didn’t look well and he told her so. The additional weight of 30 pounds added back suddenly on a body that had been underweight for so many years further strained her weakened heart, and she died of heart failure on the morning of February 4, 1983. She was just 32 years old, a month shy of her 33rd birthday.

Following Karen’s death, Richard returned to the studio and worked on his and Karen’s last recordings, including two of the songs she recorded in 1982 as well as other songs from previous recording sessions over the years before. The album, “Voice of the Heart” was released in October 1983, eight months after Karen’s death.

“Now” was a work lead, recorded in one take, and was intended to familiarize the musicians with the song as well as Richard’s arrangement of it. After a complete music track had been recorded, Karen would have then returned to the studio and recorded new vocals for the song. But as it was, the work lead turned out to be the last song Karen ever recorded.

There’s an old legend about the swan’s song – how the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) which is completely mute during its lifetime until the moment just before it dies, is said to sing one beautiful song. Over the years, listeners have commented on the lyrics of the song and knowing what we know now, wonder if perhaps Karen had had a premonition of what was to come. Indeed, “Now” can be said to have been Karen’s “swan song.”

Now

Now,
Now when it rains, I don’t feel cold.
Now that I have your hand to hold,
The winds might blow through me
but I don’t care.
There’s no harm in thunder if you are there.

And now,
now when we touch, my feelings fly.
Now when I’m smiling, I know why.
You light up my world like the morning sun.
You’re so deep within me, we’re almost one.

And now all the fears that I had start to fade.
I was always afraid love might forget me,
love might let me down.
Then look who I found.

The winds might blow through me
but I don’t care.
There’s no harm in thunder if you are there.

And now, now,
now when I wake, there’s someone home.
I’ll never face the nights alone.
You gave me the courage I need to win,
to open my heart and to let you in.
And I never really knew how, until now,

Until now.

No, I never really knew how,
until now

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