condescending twatbags, music, rock stars, YouTube

Repost: Druscilla Penny…

I originally posted this article on the first OH blog on October 21, 2016. I’m reposting it as/is today, because I have a case of writer’s block and can’t think of anything to post right now. This post actually got some interesting engagement from new commenters when it was fresh content, six years ago. So, for that reason, I’m making it available again for the intrigued. I might be back later with something new, or I might not. This has been a stressful week, and to be honest, I’m kind of tired.

I probably ought to write this post on my music blog, but I figure what I’m about to write has enough in it that isn’t about music that it belongs here on my big blog.  Besides, the only reason anyone reads my music blog is to find out about Richard Carpenter’s daughter, Mindi, who probably gets unfavorably compared to her famous dead aunt Karen more times than she can count.

Yesterday, I took my dog to the vet. Zane (who passed in 2019) has had an ear infection and the vet had given us some meds. I’ve been using the meds, but his ear is still full of gunk. The vet wants to sedate him and flush it out. I’m going to try to have a sebaceous cyst removed from him on the same day. ETA: The “cyst” turned out to be a mast cell tumor, which is linked to canine lymphoma. Both Zane and Arran had mast cell tumors, and both went on to get lymphoma. On the way to the vet’s office, I was listening to music. The old Carpenters’ song “Druscilla Penny” came up on the iPod.

Richard plays a song about a groupie who wears too much makeup.

“Druscilla Penny”

Druscilla Penny, what a name!

Are you sure you didn’t make it up yourself?

You’re very pretty, yes you are

But with all the junk you wear, it’s hard to tell

Man, you must work hard to get your hair to look like that

I don’t need a horoscope to tell me where you’re at

Your family’s probably given up on you

Since you began to follow groups of long-haired rock ‘n rollers

I can hear your mother crying for her daughter

Ah, ah, ah ….

Ah, ah, ah ….

Druscilla Penny, what a girl!

Where’s the purpose to the crazy life you lead?

It doesn’t matter after all

You’re so sure instant love is all you need

I’ve seen your face at least a thousand times

You’re always standing there behind the stages at the concerts

Waiting for an offer to be with someone after

Druscilla Penny, how’s your head?

Do you ever wake up lonely in the night?

It isn’t easy for a girl when she can’t decide

If love is wrong or right

I hope I live to see a change

Could you ever really love?

Ever really care?

Ever really get it together? no no

This is one of a couple of songs on the Carpenters’ 1971 self-titled album that features the metallic voiced Richard Carpenter singing lead.  I read on a message board that this song was kind of a comedy skit, with Richard singing to one of the countless groupies who were waiting around to get with a musician.  I’m sure Richard fielded his share of horny women back in the 70s, though he sounds so uptight and straight on this song that it comes across as funnier than it probably should.

He sings about her crazy life, her love of substances, makeup, and weird hair, and the fact that her family is sick over her departure from respectability.  I’ve heard this song many times, but yesterday was the first time Richard sounded downright disdainful to me.  Like, I could picture him backstage telling off some poor kid, standing over her like an overbearing father.  It just doesn’t seem to mesh with the concept of a famous pop musician.  On the other hand, it does seem to suit Richard’s personality. Case in point…

“Piano Picker”… another song that highlights Richard’s attitude…

“Piano Picker”

Everybody always asks me

How I got to play so fine

And friends, I’m gonna tell ya

It really did take some time

Yes, after years and years of practice

And a case of real bad knees

Whil the other guys were out playin’ with the football

I was home bangin’ on the keys

And it got me

Right were I am, this is me

Playing the piano

I hope ya like what I do

It’s for you, and I’ll try and sing right too

I guess I’m really very lucky

That I’ve got this thing to play

‘Cause it can really make me feel good

Even when it’s cloudy and grey

Yes, after years and years of practice

And awful allergies that made me sneeze

And now the other guys are out playin’ with their girlfriends

And I was still bangin’ on the keys

And it got me

Right where I am, this is me

Playing the piano

I hope ya like what I do

It’s for you

And I’ll try and sing right too

Someone get this guy a glass of chocolate milk and some Claritin.  And maybe something to kill the bug up his ass.

Actually, the whole “Druscilla Penny” story seems kind of funny to me because everyone and their brother seemed to be taking drugs back in the 70s.  I mean, Richard himself spent some time in rehab for being hooked on prescription meds.  As far as I’ve read, he was not a drinker even in those days, but he did take Quaaludes or something like them.  And while Karen was getting some help for her anorexia nervosa, Richard was seeking treatment for his addiction to pills.  So why should he be looking down on a groupie whose head is in the clouds?

I know… it’s just a song and a rather silly one at that.  It might be funny to hear someone do a cover of it.  I bet Pat Boone could turn it into a big band standard, much like he did with Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”.  On the other hand, maybe it’s time I got a life and started listening to music from the 20s.

Below are the original comments:

AlexisAR

October 23, 2016 at 9:20 AM

I remember both of those songs. “Druscilla Penny” always seemed really condescending to me, as in the one girl who was so low that even Richard wouldn’t take her up on her post-concert offers.

  1. knottyOctober 23, 2016 at 9:50 AMYeah. That is exactly what I thought. Very condescending. As if Richard has room to be picky.

Unknown

February 27, 2017 at 6:29 PM

Love this song. I’ve always thought of it as “Penny Lane Lite,” though I have to say, I’ve never considered it to be condescending in any way. More of a cautionary tale. Considering the mindset regarding the pills he was taking at the time (they were given to him by his mom, who had a prescription), I can see how he wouldn’t have associated the fact that he was taking pills to help him sleep with the rampant recreational drug use he probably witnessed in the late ’60s/early ’70s. Also, I don’t think he had quite developed an addiction yet when this song was written.

Replies

  1. knottyFebruary 27, 2017 at 6:40 PM Well, you’re right that this was one of their early songs and Richard didn’t get help for his addiction until the late 70s. Which, if you think about it, makes it even funnier. He was what, 24 or 25 years old at the time? I’m not sure exactly when the addiction started, but I did read that it went on for years until he entered the Menninger Clinic in Kansas.

    Anyway… I love listening to the Carpenters. I enjoy a lot of what Richard and Karen did, especially in the early years. This song is a guilty pleasure for me, but I was inspired to write this post because I happened to hear it a different way on that day. And I’ve been listening to it since the late 80s (and probably before then, too).  

Melanie Kyle

January 4, 2019 at 8:22 PM

Hi, I actually know Dru. I met her in the early 90s and we became very good friends. She went to school with Richard told me that she was very hurt by this song. He was judgmental and nasty toward her. Basically, he was clean cut and she was a hippy and he bullied her both at school and by writing and then publishing this mean inaccurate song. 

Replies

  1. knottyJanuary 4, 2019 at 8:56 PM I’m sure knowing the woman behind it makes it seem all the more mean spirited… it doesn’t seem very becoming to the Carpenters. And I am sure Dru was mortified.

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