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(They Long To Be) Close To You ( The Carpenters Bacharach / David Cover ) 10.10.09

Of course I grew up with The Carpenters on AM radio. This song was played every day throughout the 1970s, practically. It’s funny, when I was growing up, whenever this song came on the radio, inevitably the people around me would join in to sing the “ahhhs” at the end. What a hook.

I learned much later, when I bought the Burt Bacharach box set about a decade back, that it was written by Burt and Hal David much earlier, in 1963, for Richard Chamberlain. It had been recorded several times throughout the 60s, but it was the Carpenters/Herb Alpert production in 1970 that was the hit, and it was their version that won the Grammy in 1971.

Even stripped down without all the vocal harmonies, it’s a great song. It has great chords, a great melody, and a deliciously cheesy lyric. I’m complimenting Mr. David by saying that. I mean it in the best way. Hal David was one of the greatest lyricists in pop history. His contribution to the Bacharach/David partnership can not be over-stated. He was every bit the craftsperson that Burt Bacharach was, and deserves as many of the accolades and recognition as Bacharach has received over the years.

As for Karen Carpenter, one could argue that her voice was even butterier than Barbra Streisand‘s. I just made that word up. “Butterier.”

In March 1998, through legendary bassist Carol Kaye, I was lucky enough to meet Hal Blaine, the world’s most-recorded session drummer in pop history. (Something like 35,000 recording dates over a four or five decade career!) He played on most of the Carpenters’ hits, and was an important part of their sound.

Just this past week (10.10.09) I heard Harry Connick Jr.‘s version of this song, from his 24th album, a collection of covers, called Your Songs. He has the orchestra at Capitol Records working for him, so of course it’s a good version. ;-P

And when are they going to re-release on dvd that Bacharach/Streisand special from the early 70s?

I also did a cover a few months ago of another Bacharach/David composition: This Guy’s In Love With You, which you can watch below.