With their father's job transfer to Downey, California, the family picked up and moved west. Once their music had taken off and when they came to town, I'd get together with them in places such as the (then) O'Keefe Centre in Toronto, after I had moved to the North American broadcast powerhouse, CFRB.
One of those times I hung out with Richard and we recounted the "old" radio days back in New Haven; he started singing the radio station jingles to me that he recalled from his formative years. Our conversation was light, until I brought the subject up of music.
I told Richard I knew a song that had been composed by Neil Sedaka and demo'ed by him, but his voice was just too light (high) for such a slow, serious song. For good reason it never got any airplay. But I said it was a stunningly beautiful song (I noticed he was now no longer looking around, but intently staring at me); it had been done by Petula Clark and as a better version, got slight airplay but that was it. (Now I had his full attention). Out of the billion songs in the universe, I thought he should get Karen (with her clear, beautiful, almost flawless contralto voice) to record the song, called "Solitaire".
Richard's mouth dropped open. He said that no one else knew this -- not even their boss (Herb Alpert) at A & M Records -- but just before flying to Toronto for their sold-out week's engagement, they had privately recorded the song in their home studio, and had not even had time to edit it down for radio play. He couldn't believe the coincidence. Neither could I.
So if ever you want to hear "Solitaire," go to their Horizon album. I feel a special connection to it because of that event in the O'Keefe hall outside the dressing rooms, so many years ago. But it is also special (to me) because it is a non-hit, extraordinary showcase of Karen Carpenter's pure voice and what it could do. Not only will Horizon give you that gem, but another that had personal meaning to Karen. Just like the rest of us, singers can be moved by a particular song; one that "connects" to them in a very personal way like no other. On that same disc, the longest tune is "I Can Dream, Can't I?" which is an old number written not by her usual hitmakers (Richard teamed with John Bettis, Paul Williams), but Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain. It hit Karen where she lived, because it describes never finding, but always dreaming about, that special someone..... that once-in-a-lifetime soulmate. When pressed, Richard told me it wasn't any of the hits, but that song that was privately Karen's favourite. One listen and you'll know why. The intentionally old (1940's "period") brilliant arrangement, will simply knock your socks off.