Burt Bacharach / Hal David / Richard Chamberlain: “They Long to Be Close to You”

Posted: February 11, 2015 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
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Tune du Jour: “They Long to Be Close to You” – Carpenters
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Hannah Cranna vs. Ethyl Meatplow
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)
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They Long to Be Close to You is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It was first recorded and released as a single in 1963 by Richard Chamberlain garnering precious little attention. However it was not a total lose for Rich; the single’s B-Side, Blue Guitar, would go on to be a minor hit. They Long to Be Close to You was next recorded  by Dionne Warwick and released in 1964. Bacharach himself also took a stab at it, releasing his own version in 1968.

But it was in 1970 that musical history would be made! A year earlier, two wild and crazy kids had caught Burt’s attention with their rousing cover of the Beatles’ Ticket to Ride. Burt contacted the sibling pair, Richard and Karen Carpenter, and suggested they arrange their own version of They Long to Be Close to You. They did, thereby producing a wretched travesty for the ages.  The single sold over a million copies. They Long to Be Close to You occupied number one pop for four weeks and went to number one adult contemporary later that summer. This horrific song also won the Carpenters a Grammy for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus and Best New Artist.

Yet, despite the years of torment we have all endured, involuntarily assaulted by this musical abomination at everywhere from restaurants, elevators, school choruses and commercials to our parents’ stereo, They Long to Be Close to You does claim one undeniable superlative; it is Homer and Marge Simpsons’ love song. They Long to Be Close to You played in the background as Homer Simpson first met and gazed upon Marge Bouvier and in time was the first song they danced to at their wedding.


The Original

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Richard Chamberlain:

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The Most Popular

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THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Hannah Cranna vs. Ethyl Meatplow

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Hannah Cranna:

Ethyl Meatplow:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

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Votes can be cast up to three months from the day and time of the original post.

Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. Cuspid says:

    Karen Carpenter was one of my first crushes. Hannah gets my vote. Ethyl gets my disdain. Karen still gets my heart.

  2. Arnold Plotnick says:

    Karen was way cool. Not many girl drummers out there. And what a voice. I kinda like Ethyl’s rockin’ version more than that sappy slow Hannah version. I want to know, though… why do squirrels suddenly appear every time Richie is near?

  3. RDubbs says:

    While Hannah Cranna gives it a nice enough try, I cannot help but feel that Ethyl Meatplow’s rendition comes much closer to the essence and “feel” of what Bacharach/David were trying to convey.

  4. Lucky H says:

    Hannah made me cry … in a good way …. I think

  5. Pete Black says:

    I actually like both covers. The Hannah Cranna version kept the melody in play which is the only strength of the song. The lyrics are an accidental parody. I love a great melody. I can hear that they both love and also show they know what a 200 pound block of cheese it is. Ethyl Meatplow gets extra credit for subverting this saccharine donut into something not only completely different but sinister. Kudos to the stars, Ethyl.

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