(They Long to Be) Close to You

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Back cover of Richard Chamberlain's 1963 single "Blue Guitar / They Long to Be Close to You"

"(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, only that single's flip side, "Blue Guitar", became a hit. The tune was also 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". Bacharach released his own version in 1968. But the version recorded by The Carpenters, with instrumental backing by L.A. studio musicians from the Wrecking Crew,[1] which became a hit in 1970, is the best known.

The first recorded duet of this song is attributed to Dinah Washington and Lionel Hampton. The latter released the album Jazz Moods (1995)[2] with this song. A compilation album of Dinah, (label Bluenite, the Netherlands 1996) also contains this duet. It can be found at YouTube.[3] As Dinah had died in late 1963, this is believed to be one of the first recordings of this song.

The Carpenters version[edit]

"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
Dutch 7-inch single
Single by The Carpenters
from the album Close to You
B-side "I Kept on Lovin' You"
Released May 15, 1970
Format 7" single
Recorded 1970
Genre Pop
Length 4:33 (LP version)
3:40 (7" single)
Label A&M 1183
Producer(s) Jack Daugherty
Certification Gold (RIAA)
The Carpenters singles chronology
"Ticket to Ride"
"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
"We've Only Just Begun"
Close to You track listing
Side one
  1. "We've Only Just Begun"
  2. "Love Is Surrender"
  3. "Maybe It's You"
  4. "Reason to Believe"
  5. "Help!"
  6. "(They Long to Be) Close to You"
Side two
  1. "Baby It's You"
  2. "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"
  3. "Crescent Noon"
  4. "Mr. Guder"
  5. "I Kept on Loving You"
  6. "Another Song"

In 1970, it was released by Karen and Richard Carpenter 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. This song was originally given to Herb Alpert as a follow up to his Number 1 hit, "This Guy's in Love with You", another Bacharach-David composition. Alpert was not thrilled with his version and shelved the recording. Looking for a follow-up to their first A&M Records/Billboard No. 54 recording Ticket to Ride, in 1969 Alpert decided to give it to the Carpenters (Alpert's version was released in 2005 on the Tijuana Brass album Lost Treasures 1963–1974). Richard had stated that when Alpert introduced the song to him back in early 1970, he was a bit apprehensive about the song.[citation needed] 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 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 No. 2 song for 1970.[4]

With "(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.


Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 1
Record World 1
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Oricon (Japanese) Singles Chart 71
Cash Box 1
UK Singles Chart 6

In popular culture[edit]

"(They Long to Be) Close to You" is Homer and Marge's love song on The Simpsons. The song plays in the background when Homer sees Marge for the first time in "The Way We Was". The song would later appear in The Simpsons Movie, as the first song Homer and Marge dance at their wedding in a video, as well as in "Treehouse of Horror XXIII" (The Simpsons Season 24 Episode 2), when an alternate-universe Marge sees the pile of Homers having been defeated by Artie Ziff. The affection for this song can also explain Marge's melody choice when buying a musical doorbell in "Maximum Homerdrive" (The Simpsons Season 10 Episode 17).

In the 1989 film "Parenthood", Nathan (Rick Moranis) comes to his wife Susan's (Harley Jane Kozak) class and sings the song to serenade her.

In the Red Dwarf episode "Back in the Red", the Cat quotes the song when he says "There's a six-month waiting list for birds to suddenly appear every time that I am near!"

David Alan Grier's character, Don 'No Soul' Simmons, covered the song in a sketch for Amazon Women on the Moon.

Janet Jackson used an interpolation of the song for her single "I Want You".

In a 2013 episode of Coronation Street, characters Roy and Hayley Cropper danced to an organ version of the song in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

There is an achievement in the 2014 game Oddworld: New 'N' Tasty! entitled "Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear...?" which is an obvious nod to the line from the song. The achievement can be earned by dying in 15 different ways.[5]

Other cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew. St. Martin’s Griffin. pp. 261–263. ISBN 978-1-250-03046-7. 
  2. ^ Jazz Moods [Charly Disc 2] - Various Artists | Release Information, Reviews and Credits | AllMusic
  3. ^ Close_To_You.wmv - YouTube
  4. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1970
  5. ^ "New 'n' Tasty's Trophies Revealed". Oddworld Inhabitants. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "Benny's Place • Original Series, Episodes 1 - 11". Runstop.de. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "Sole Giménez "Junto a Ti" (Close To You)". YouTube. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  8. ^ Harry Connick Jr. Announces New Album Produced by Clive Davis, vintageguitar.com, July 30, 2009. Accessed 2009-08-13. Archived 2009-08-15.
  9. ^ Harry Connick, Jr. - Your Songs, Barnes & Noble. Accessed 2009-08-13. Archived 2009-08-15.
  10. ^ "Pushing the Envelope overview". Allmusic.com. 
  11. ^ "Gerald Albright - Pushing the Envelope". Smooth-jazz.de. 
  12. ^ "NEW MUSIC: Lauryn Hill and Ron Isley ‘Close To You’ - Global Grind". Global Grind. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  13. ^ "In Performance at the White House - PBS". In Performance at the White House - PBS. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"A Song of Joy" by Miguel Ríos
Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single (The Carpenters version)
July 11, 1970 (six weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Just Can't Help Believing" by B.J. Thomas
Preceded by
"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" by Three Dog Night
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
July 25, 1970 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Make It With You" by Bread
Preceded by
"A Song of Joy"
RPM number-one single
August 8, 1970 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"As the Years Go By" by Mashmakhan
Preceded by
"In the Summertime" by The Mixtures
Australian ARIA Singles Chart number-one single
October 19, 1970 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Lookin' Out My Back Door" / "Long as I Can See the Light" by Creedence Clearwater Revival