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(They Long to Be) Close to You

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"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
Side A of the Irish single
Single by The Carpenters
from the album Close to You
B-side"I Kept on Lovin' You"
ReleasedMay 14, 1970
  • 4:33 (LP)
  • 3:40 (single)
Producer(s)Jack Daugherty
The Carpenters singles chronology
"Ticket to Ride"
"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
"We've Only Just Begun"
Official audio
"[They Long To Be] Close To You" on YouTube

"(They Long to Be) Close to You" is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David with sections of the early version written by Cathy Steeves. The best-known version is that recorded by American duo The Carpenters for their second studio album Close to You (1970) and produced by Jack Daugherty. Released on May 14, 1970, the single topped both the US Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. It also reached the top of the Canadian and Australian charts and peaked at number six on the charts of both the UK and Ireland. The record was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in August 1970.

Early versions[edit]

The song was first recorded by Richard Chamberlain and released as a single in 1963 as "They Long to Be Close to You".[3] However, while the single's other side, "Blue Guitar", became a hit, "They Long to Be Close to You" did not.[4][5] The tune was also recorded as a demo by Dionne Warwick in 1963, was re-recorded with a Burt Bacharach arrangement for her album Make Way for Dionne Warwick (1964), and was released as the B-side of her 1965 single "Here I Am". Dusty Springfield recorded the song in August 1964, but her version was not released commercially until it appeared on her album Where Am I Going? (1967). Bacharach released his own version in 1971. But the version recorded by Carpenters with instrumental backing by L.A. studio musicians from the Wrecking Crew,[6] which became a hit in 1970, was the most successful.[7]

Carpenters version[edit]

Karen and Richard Carpenter recorded the most successful version of the song

In 1970, "(They Long to Be) Close to You" was released by the Carpenters on their album Close to You (1970) and became their breakthrough hit. The song stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks and eleven weeks in the Top 10. "(They Long to Be) Close to You" was named Billboard's Song of the Summer for 1970.[8]

Bacharach and David gave Herb Alpert the song after he scored a number one hit in 1968 with "This Guy's in Love with You", which the duo had also written. Alpert recorded the song, but he was displeased with the recording and did not release it. After the Carpenters achieved their first chart success with "Ticket to Ride" in 1969, Alpert convinced them to record their version of the song, believing it was well-suited for them.[9]

Carpenter and Alpert collaborated on the song, and the finished product was a 4-minute, 36-second long song. When A&M Records decided to remove the extended coda and release it as a 3-minute, 40-second long single in May 1970, it became A&M's biggest hit since Alpert's "This Guy's in Love with You" from 1968. Billboard ranked it as the number two song for 1970.[10]

"(They Long to Be) Close to You" earned the Carpenters 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.[11] The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on August 12, 1970.[12] Reaching number six on the UK Singles Chart in 1970, in a UK television special on ITV in 2016 it was voted fourth in "The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Song".[13]


Richard had originally written the flugelhorn solo part for Herb Alpert but when he was unavailable at the time of recording, Chuck Findley was hired in his stead. Richard later commented: "Chuck didn't play it that way at first, but I worked with him and he nailed it. A lot of people thought it was Herb – Bacharach thought so, too. But it's the way Findley is playing it."[14]

The arrangement was completely different from the version Bacharach cut with Richard Chamberlain, with one exception. When Richard Carpenter asked Bacharach for permission (as a courtesy) to redo the song, Bacharach requested that he keep the two "quintuplets" (five note groupings" (piano ornaments) at the end of the first bridge. Bacharach recalled his initial reaction on hearing the finished product: "Man, this is just great! I completely blew it with Richard Chamberlain but now someone else has come along and made a record so much better than mine."[15]

Use in other media[edit]

The song plays a key part throughout the animated television show The Simpsons, being used prominently during emotional moments between Homer and Marge Simpson over the course of the series. It is first used in the second season episode "The Way We Was", a flashback episode detailing how the couple met; Homer is first shown listening to the song in the car, and it later plays when he sees Marge for the first time in high school detention, and throughout the rest of the episode. It is also the tune of the doorbell that won't stop in the episode Maximum Homerdrive. It later features in The Simpsons Movie (2007), as Homer tearfully watches a videotape left behind by Marge in Alaska containing the couple's first dance to the song, and subsequently collapses onto a broken heart-shaped iceberg in anguish.[16]


Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[31] Gold 35,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Silver 200,000
United States (RIAA)[33] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Gwen Guthrie version[edit]

"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
Single by Gwen Guthrie
from the album Good to Go Lover
ReleasedSeptember 13, 1986
Songwriter(s)Burt Bacharach, Hal David
Producer(s)Gwen Guthrie, David Conley, Jerome Gasper
Gwen Guthrie singles chronology
"Good to Go Lover"
"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
"Friends & Lovers"

In 1986, Gwen Guthrie released her version of the song, which could only partially build on the success of her hit "Ain't Nothin' Goin' On but the Rent". Compared to the original, this version is very synthesizer-heavy and is adapted to the time.

Music video[edit]

In the music video, Gwen Guthrie sings the song on a stage while the crowd dances and papparazi crowd the stage.[34]

Track listing[edit]

12" Maxi

  1. "(They Long To Be) Close To You" - 7:14
  2. "You Touched My Life" - 5:07
  3. "Save Your Love For Me" - 4:50


Chart (1986–87) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[35] 25
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[36] 9
Ireland (IRMA) 19
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[37] 69


  1. ^ Harcourt, Nic (2005). "Brothers and Sisters". Music Lust. Seattle: Sasquatch Books. p. 29. ISBN 1570614377.
  2. ^ Smith, Troy L. (14 December 2021). "Every No. 1 song of the 1970s ranked from worst to best". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  3. ^ "Richard Chamberlain – They Long To Be Close To You (Song)". Hung Medien. 1963. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  4. ^ "Hot 100 - Billboard". Billboard. 1963. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  5. ^ "Adult Contemporary Chart - Billboard". Billboard. 1963. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew. St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 261–263. ISBN 978-1-250-03046-7.
  7. ^ McCormick, Scott (2019-09-04). "Fifth time's the charm: The Carpenter's smash hit, "Close to You"". Disc Makers.
  8. ^ Billboard Staff (2020-06-22). "Summer Songs 1958-2020". Billboard.
  9. ^ "Carpenters Close To You (Album 1970) Karen Carpenter". leadsister.com. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  10. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1970
  11. ^ "GRAMMY Award Results for Carpenters". The Recording Academy. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  12. ^ "The Carpenters - (They Long to Be) Close to You - RIAA Gold Certification". RIAA. August 12, 1970. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  13. ^ "The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Song". ITV. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  14. ^ Schmidt, Randy L. (2012). Yesterday Once More: The Carpenters Reader. Chicago Review Press. p. 303. ISBN 9781613744147.
  15. ^ Bacharach, Burt (2013). Anyone Who Had a Heart. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-220606-0.
  16. ^ Brooks, James L.; Groening, Matt; Jean, Al; Scully, Mike; Silverman, David; Castellaneta, Dan; Smith, Yeardley (2007). Audio commentary (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  17. ^ Schmidt, Randy L. (13 August 2017). Yesterday Once More: The Carpenters Reader. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613744178. Retrieved 13 August 2017 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1970-08-15. Retrieved 2018-03-25.
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – (They Long to Be) Close to You". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  20. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Carpenters" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  21. ^ "Carpenters – (They Long To Be) Close To You" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  22. ^ "Carpenters: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  23. ^ "Carpenters Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  24. ^ "Carpenters Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  25. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 8/08/70". Tropicalglen.com. 1970-08-08. Archived from the original on 2015-06-08. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  26. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  27. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. 17 July 2013.
  28. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  29. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1970". Tropicalglen.com. 1970-12-26. Archived from the original on 2019-07-22. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  30. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  31. ^ "Aussie Success" (PDF). Cash Box. Vol. 33, no. 51. June 10, 1972. p. 33. Retrieved January 29, 2020 – via American Radio History.
  32. ^ "British single certifications – Carpenters – (They Long to Be) Close to You". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  33. ^ "American single certifications – Carpenters – Close to you". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  34. ^ [1], Music video at youtube.com
  35. ^ Chartsurfer.de
  36. ^ charts.nz
  37. ^ "Gwen Guthrie Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.

External links[edit]