(They Long to Be) Close to You  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"(They Long to Be) Close to You" is a popular song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It was first recorded by Richard Chamberlain and released as a single in 1963 as "They Long to Be Close to You," without parentheses. However, it was the single's flip side, "Blue Guitar," that became a hit. Although Richard Chamberlain recorded the first version, The Carpenters' version is the most recognized version, having it as a hit in 1970. The tune was recorded as a demo by Dionne Warwick in 1963 and re-recorded with a Burt Bacharach arrangement for her 1964 album Make Way for Dionne Warwick, and was released as the B-side of her 1965 single "Here I Am."

The Carpenters' Version

In 1970, it was released by The Carpenters on their album, Close to You, and it became their breakthrough hit. The song stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. Richard had stated that when Herb Alpert introduced the song to him back in early 1970, he was a bit apprehensive about the song, and didn't have confidence in it. He and Alpert collaborated on the song, and the finished product was a 4-minute, 36-second long song. When A&M Records decided to release it in May 1970, it became A&M's biggest hit since Herb Alpert's "This Guy's in Love with You" from 1968.

Because of "(They Long to Be) Close to You," the Carpenters earned a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus in 1971. It became the first of three Grammy Awards they would win during their careers.


Other cover versions

In 1967, the song was recorded by Dusty Springfield for the album The Look of Love.

In 1971, Claudine Longet recorded the song and included some lyrics in French on her album, We've Only Just Begun.

In 1972, the song again became a hit when recorded by Jerry Butler and Brenda Lee Eager. It went to #6 on Billboard's R&B chart.

In 1976, another hit version was released by B.T. Express, peaking at #31 on the R&B chart. Gwen Guthrie had a UK #25 hit with a version released in 1986.

In 1983, The Circle Jerks covered the song as one of the six cover versions on "Golden Shower of Hits (Jerks on 45)", which appears on their third album with the same title.

The song has been recorded by many other artists, including Bobby Womack, Perry Como, Barenaked Ladies, The Cranberries, Isaac Hayes (on Black Moses, 1971), Les Mouches, Jimmy Bo Horne, Hikaru Utada (Cubic U), Ethyl Meatplow, Freya Lin, Corrinne May, Rie fu, Rick Astley, Emil Chau, and Vincy Chan.

It was performed in 1971 on The Burt Bacharach Show by the show's host and Barbra Streisand and in 1977 on The Muppet Show by Connie Stevens with Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear.

The song was played by My Chemical Romance in the Download Festival in 2005.

Jazz pianist Erroll Garner played a highly re-worked instrumental version on the last album he recorded before his death, "Magician", in 1973.

The song was covered by Paul Weller on his 2004 covers album Studio 150.

References in pop culture

In the 1989 Ron Howard comedy Parenthood, Nathan Huffner (Rick Moranis) serenades his estranged wife Susan (Harley Kozak) with this song in front of the class she is teaching.

The song has been featured in the film There's Something About Mary. It's played during the scene where Ben Stiller zips up too high and quickly.

An eerie version featured in the film MirrorMask in the scene where Helena is dressed by mechanical handmaidens, is inspired by Wayne Horvitz's 1997 cover version featured in the tribute album Great Jewish Music: Burt Bacharach.

This song is a recurring motif in The Simpsons. The song has been featured in three episodes as well as The Simpsons Movie.

  • The Way We Was (Season 2). The song plays when Homer first sees Marge in high school. However, this is not the original Carpenters' recording, and simply a sound alike.
  • The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons (Season 9). The song is played during Apu's and Manjula's wedding. This is also not the original Carpenters' recording. It is a Hindi translation of the lyrics.
  • Maximum Homerdrive (Season 10). Marge and Lisa install a doorbell that plays the first eight notes of the song. When eventually activated, the song plays ad nauseam. This is no doubt a reference to Karen Carpenter having had a custom doorbell on her home that played the first six notes of "We've Only Just Begun."
  • The Simpsons Movie. During a very emotional scene that involves Marge and Homer's wedding video, we see that "Close to You" was their wedding song. This is the actual Carpenters' recording.

In the 2002 movie, Chik yeung tin si (So Close), the song was used in the opening scene to evade a drug lord's security measures.

An alternative cover of the song also appears in the credits for the "Pierce Me" episode of Daria.

In an episode of the US comedy series 3rd Rock from the Sun, William Shatner (as the Big-Giant-Head) sings this song at Tommy Solomon's prom.

In episode two ("Alan Attraction") of the first series of British comedy "I'm Alan Partridge", starring Steve Coogan, Alan performs a rendition of the song to impress a woman he is interested in, Jill. He struggles with the notes and there's confusion with the band about octaves, so, he soon gives up singing it.

It is featured in the xkcd comic "Close to You."

In Australia, a series of 2007 Bottlemart commercials featured an a cappella version of this song.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "(They Long to Be) Close to You" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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