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(They Long to Be) Close to You /
I Kept on Loving You - 1970
After the poor charting of "Ticket", the duo needed a hit or their future at A & M Records could have been in jeopardy. Richard's arranging skills and Karen's beautiful vocals found the perfect match in this single. This Burt Bacharach/Hal David number had been recorded by Richard Chamberlain, Dionne Warwick, but hadn't been able to chart well. Herb Alpert planned to release it as a follow up to "This Guys in Love", but decided against it and gave it to the Carpenters. Richard's simple arrangement, as he would later say, would either "tank or be #1". It did the latter.
The single was released on May 20, 1970 and by June 20, it had reached #1 on the Billboard chart and stayed in that position for four weeks. It also reached #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It reached #6 in the U.K. and #77 in Japan. On the Billboard Year End Chart, is was #2. Richard provides the solo vocals for the "B" side. "Close to You" was preceded at #1 by Three Dog Night and followed by Bread.
The original album version fades out @3:42 and then adds a coda with more "waaahs" before the final fade @4:34. This version is heard on a few different albums. The single version, which is included on almost every compilation album ends with the first fade.
At the 1970 Grammy Awards, the Carpenters received Best New Artist and Best Pop Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for (They Long to Be) Close to You.
One of my favorite Carpenters songs. The intro is iconic. Due to the fact that this song has been used in various movies/tv shows (Parenthood, The Simpsons, There's Something About Mary, 3rd Rock from the Sun), people may know the song without even knowing who the Carpenters are.
In the early 1980's at a 4th of July celebration in Wichita, Kansas, the oldies radio station was providing music prior to the start of the celebration. "Close to You" came over the huge speakers and was VERY loud. It almost gave me chills. What a sound.