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Song Parodies -> "Song for Karen"

Original Song Title:

"Song for Sharon"

Original Performer:

Joni Mitchell

Parody Song Title:

"Song for Karen"

Parody Written by:


The Lyrics

This nine-minute masterpiece is among many from the fertile mind of one of the 20th century's greatest singer-songwriter-lyricist poets, not to mention painter and pundit, the paragon of the complete artist. This piece is the opening track from 1976's acclaimed 'Hejira' album, which took her increasingly jazz-tinged folk to even greater heights of sophistication, backed by Tom Scott's LA Express.

Normally Joni's lyrics are not easily messed with, intensely personal and confessional as they are. However, I thought this one would make a worthy tribute to one of pop music's best-loved (and best) female vocalists, whose rich magical contralto first graced the airwaves more than forty years ago now.

The challenge of reworking this material was a rewarding and satisfying labor of love for me. I hope there are some among you who can find the time (and emotional commitment) to make it worth my while. You won't laugh, but you might cry.

I went to Phillip Island*, Karen
To jam a while with Mary Lynn
And she sang the latest song of love
On a beachfront, tanned and thin
Big hit, sluggish, with a melody not fast
Longed for something racy
These girls really like that crap?
And 'Close To You' went crazy

Little Carpenter kids, Conn. orig. up in Calif'a
They got talents they combine
Mothers, fathers adore them
They'll stalk the studios for star A & M byline
Too lightweight for me, this levity
Because as sure as Jimi Hendrix knocks
John and Paul off their perch, George and Ringo
Peace man, Cream, Santana rocks

Wanna keep my cool, a rocker
But I'm a fool when songs awake
Arcane concealed emotion
Voice's feeling somehow smitten in my place
Watched a lip-sync of 'For All We Know'
I want to treat it as a kind of joke
But she lit my candle, I was awestruck
And all my 'Sucks!' went up in smoke

Karen, you left this man
At an oath-declared compunction
And I came to the Big Picture - mere's
The place of beat's small function
Rock has repetitious dangers
I'd become accustomed to
Now I do accept the strangeness
Of music better than I used to do

This woman I 'knew' destroyed herself
Her hell was weak, starved body
Was she faking marketability
Nourishing a self-pa-rod-y?
She sends me calling out to Yesterday
Once more, commotions and distractions
It seems we all live so close to that time
Not far nostalgic reaction

Mama says 'Have children.'
Papa and Richard say 'Find yourself some sanity.
You are needy and you're crippled, put some time in psychotherapy.'
Well, there's a wide wide world of possible causes
And mental landscapes to uncover
She needs to be alone right now
Although millions love her

When you were kids in LA, Karen
Tears you're rarely shedding in your little town
Bright softball hits and misses
The little lady from Downey smiling, never down
And tuning in on the radio tracks
Or singing to the latest thing
Music stimulated your ambitions more than anything

Then when roller-skating after Golden Richard
You know it was bright fame you were chasing
Chasing dreams, drumsticks tucked inside your sandlot jeans
He showed you first you get the misses
Then the hits appear
But stealing bases in pop's hell-rat-race
Still fails the reckless fool, dear

Now there are 100 million units sold they think
Circulating in singles and album wares
In this vigorous commerciality
A gaunt face beyond death's window stares and stares and stares and stares
Any hour and season Karen's flowers of deep feelings
Can save me, lonely to relieve me

Karen once tried a husband
Unhappily, found no calm
She had the curse of anorexia
Pois'nous snake did so much harm
But we still have your music
It still keeps us on top of the world, on high
You sing for we friends, we your family
Your work outlasts you, not goodbye

* A family resort island about two hours SE of Melbourne, Victoria. Its southern beach is a winter nesting site for fairy penguins, the smallest species, and very popular with international tourists

audio on YT here.

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Voting Results

Pacing: 5.0
How Funny: 5.0
Overall Rating: 5.0

Total Votes: 4

Voting Breakdown

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    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
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 4   0
 5   4

User Comments

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2Eagle - November 13, 2012 - Report this comment
We had fun with the Beatles et al in the Sixties and then chilled out with the Carpenters in the Seventies.
AFW - November 13, 2012 - Report this comment
She had a unique style of singing
Lifeliver - November 14, 2012 - Report this comment
Thanks for dropping by 2 Eagle, AFW. Apparently this OS was a bit too much or too morbid to take on for some, or they don't know it. Can't say I blame them. Personally, I got a lot out of doing it so no biggie.

I didn't get into the Carpenters seriously until the late 90s, when their own old songs from the radio made me smile. They were actually quite radical, going against the grain of progressive rock and retroing an essentially sixties sound. Many people don't realize that all the voices on all their recordings are just Karen and Richard's, apart from the children's choir on 'Sing'. Like most recording artists, I only like less than half of their stuff, but what I do like, I like very much.
Meriadoc - November 15, 2012 - Report this comment
Took me awhile to get to this on LL, as I had to find nine minutes. I wasn't a big Carpenters fan, like you point out in your second and third verse, they were too uncool. But Yesterday Once More brings back a nice nostalgic feeling, as does Rainy Days and Mondays. (But I'll taken any Carpenters song over Joni Mitchell any day). ;)
Lifeliver - November 17, 2012 - Report this comment
Thanks Merry, I really appreciate you taking the time to look at this epic. I acknowledge Joni isn't everybody's cup of maple syrup and she's often been criticized for too much precious navel-gazing and avant-gard experimentation which she doesn't always pull off. Like the Carpenters, I like less than half of her output, but at her vintage best I find her mesmerizing. Her lyrics alone make her work of interest to any creative writer, I think.

My favorite Carpenters album is 'Now and Then', with the kitsch LA suburbia cover. I contains an oldies medley that follows Yesterday Once More, and really brings out what they do best.
Callmelennie - November 17, 2012 - Report this comment
No doubt about it, Joni is one of the great musical prodigies and geniuses of our generation. You read even a brief biological sketch of her and it becomes clear. And where did she get that emotional range, ranging from the highest joys to the ultimate depths of sadness? You hear "Blue" and you just want to hold her forever. I'm almost positive the sad episode where she was forced to give up her baby in 1965 is the fuel for this song; she was mourning her lost child
Lifeliver - November 17, 2012 - Report this comment
Well said Lennie. One of my favorite female jazz singers, Laurel Masse, had this to say after seeing Joni's 'Shadows and Light' concert with Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny: 'She is just being Joni with every fiber of her being'. For the uninitiated, the DVD is readily available, or you can watch segments on You Tube.

Did you know she was reunited with her daughter about 10-12 years ago and is a happy Grandma now, I assume? I think 'Sharon' was a hometown friend, and she's comparing the different paths their lives have taken for better or worse. 'Blue', of course, was about Graham Nash.

I love watching her interviewed - she's an extraordinarily articulate woman who knows her own mind as well as anyone I've experienced.
KC Fan - November 19, 2012 - Report this comment
This is a brilliant tribute to Karen. Should have more votes and accolades.
Lifeliver - November 19, 2012 - Report this comment
Cheers KC fan and thanks for taking the time. Made my day.

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