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Isaac Hayes: “(They Long to Be) Close to You”

From the album Black Moses (1971)

Some songs are so perfect that the idea of covering them is almost blasphemous.  Such is the case with The Carpenters' 1970 version of “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” a recording that imbues the carefully polished kitsch of Top 40 radio with a rare and unexpected poignancy.

The song, originally written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and recorded in innumerable versions before and after The Carpenters’ classic interpretation, becomes something quite different in Hayes’ hands.  He somehow drains the song of its sappy sentimentality (most evident in Bacharach’s own god-awful version) and makes it work as a vehicle for his characteristically soulful grooves.  With a leisurely instrumental intro and numerous lyrical interpolations, Hayes’ “Close to You” is a pop epic of Wagnerian proportions, clocking in at over nine glorious minutes.

Any other candidates for the best interpretation of this song?

Played 159 time(s).

April 08, 2009, 10:13pm

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