Posts Tagged ‘(They Long to Be) Close to You’

Thanksgiving night, after a wonderful get-together with family, Diane and I continued our trek through Good Girls Revolt. One episode centered on New Year’s Eve of 1969: As the ‘60s came to an end, Patti (Genevieve Angelson) and editor Finn (Chris Diamantopoulos) concluded that the decade had been about suppression and repression; the ‘70s, they predicted, would be about expansion. Then, at about 10:50pm, I received a message from iTunes: Rumer’s This Girl’s in Love: A Bacharach and David Songbook was available for download.

It’s a lilting and lush set; the music possesses the grace of Audrey Hepburn, soul of Dusty Springfield and vocal finesse of the 5th Dimension, if that makes sense, and evokes the era in which the songs were born while remaining firmly rooted in the present. While one can imagine Rumer singing, say, “One Less Bell to Answer” on The Tonight Show in 1969, one can also imagine her swaying to the same music on The Tonight Show next month. At its best, music transcends time and space; and this set does just that.

Anyway, the juxtaposition of Good Girls Revolt and This Girl’s in Love (and, perhaps, too much turkey) led me to reflection – and to the realization that Patti and Finn, in their rush to pass judgment on the ’60s, were wrong. The decade was not a time of suppression or repression. To the contrary. It was a time when the collective American mindset pushed past a centuries-old prejudice (race) and began to do the same with another (gender). That’s not to say prejudice was eliminated; far from it. But the majority of folks realized it was wrong.

Consider this clip from Petula, a TV special starring British pop singer Petula Clark that aired on NBC on April 2, 1968:

The moment near the end, when Petula puts her arm on Harry Belafonte’s? Believe it or not, it spurred a controversy. A vice president of Chrysler, which was sponsoring the show, demanded that another take be used due to the “interracial touching.” Petula Clark and her husband, the special’s producer, said no; NBC sided with them; and the special, when it aired, was a hit. But if that touch had occurred a decade earlier? NBC likely would’ve cut the song or, if not, many TV stations, primarily in the South, would’ve refused to air the show.

That said, despite the decade’s advances, life wasn’t great. Two days after that special aired, for example, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; two months later, Robert Kennedy was killed; four months later, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago turned violent; six months later, Richard Nixon was elected president; and, all the while, the Vietnam War raged – more than 16,592 American soldiers died and 87,388 were wounded that year.

When we strip the gauzy nostalgia from the reality of any time, we’re left with this: What often made the time wonderful was less day-to-day life and more the promise of what had yet to come. It’s why succeeding generations continue to embrace the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, I think – despite the tumult of the ‘60s and woes of the ‘70s, the messages that powered much of the music were hopeful. And, by and large, we’re a hopeful lot.

Which leads to today’s Top 5: The Promise of Tomorrow, circa 1970 and Billboard. These are the year’s top singles…

1) Simon & Garfunkel – “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

2) The Carpenters – “(They Long to Be) Close to You”

3) The Guess Who – “American Woman”

4) B.J. Thomas – “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”

5) Edwin Starr – “War”

6) Diana Ross – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

And a few singles that didn’t make the year’s top 100:

7) The 5th Dimension – “One Less Bell to Answer”

8) Elton John – “Your Song”

9) Dusty Springfield – “A Brand New Me”

 

rumer_this_girlSince the project was announced, I’ve assumed that Rumer’s This Girl’s in Love: A Bacharach & David Songbook, which is now slated for release on November 25th, will be a positively sublime collection based on the theory of “That Voice + Those Songs = Aural Bliss.” And, now, here’s proof that the theory has, at last, become a law:

True, 30-second clips of the songs may not tell the entire story…but they tell enough. So, for today’s Top 5: That Voice + Those Songs = Aural Bliss.

1) “Walk on By” –

2) “Balance of Nature” =

3) “(They Long to Be) Close to You” –

The above three tracks have already been released to folks who’ve preordered the album on iTunes. These next two are performances from (long) before this particular project, but they point out just how well Rumer’s voice meshes with Bacharach-David songs:

4) “A House Is Not a Home” –

5) “What the World Needs Now” –

And here’s one bonus, from a performance with the Metropole Orchestra in 2011. (That entire show, which was broadcast on the radio, should be officially released at some point, as it’s truly astounding.)

As It write, it’s been 17 days and 12 hours (give or take 20 minutes) since my last cigarette. On the morning of the 13th, instead of stepping onto the back porch while my K-cup machine powered on and lighting my first smoke of the day, I tapped a mini nicotine lozenge from its tiny pack and dropped it on my tongue. It’s far from the same rush; it almost satiates the need. (The key word there is almost.) Yet, the first few days were easier than I anticipated – much easier, in fact, than when I tried the full-sized lozenges a few years back, or the patch a few years before that. It wasn’t until I returned to work, after a week off, that I found myself (almost) pounding my desk.

rumer_this_girlAnd so it (still) goes. This past Tuesday, in fact, was one of those days. And then, during a quick Facebook break that afternoon, I saw a post from Rumer about her forthcoming album, This Girl’s in Love: A Bacharach & David Songbook. In fact, the post wasn’t just about the set, but shared the song, “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” that is the lead single. To say that it soothed my stressed-out soul is an understatement.

The album, which is due out October 21st, has all the earmarks of a perfect autumn release; and, in addition to “Close to You,” features “The Look of Love,” “Balance of Nature,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” “Are You There (With Another Girl),” “You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart),” “Land of Make Believe,” “A House Is Not a Home,” “Walk on By,” “The Last One to Be Loved,” “This Girl’s in Love” and “What the World Needs Now Is Love.”

Anyway, onward to today’s Top 5:

1) Rumer – “(They Long to Be) Close to You.” Rumer’s slowed-down spin of the classic song, which was a hit in 1970 for the Carpenters, is mesmerizing. Those who only know the version by siblings Karen and Richard may be surprised to learn that they weren’t the first to record it – that honor belongs to Richard Chamberlain in 1963. Other artists who recorded it before the Carpenters include Dionne Warwick (1964), Dusty Springfield (1967) and Bacharach himself (1968).

2) Bat for Lashes – “We’ve Only Just Begun.” The Bride, the latest release from Bat for Lashes (aka Natasha Khan), tells the story of a young woman whose life is changed forever when her husband-to-be dies in a car accident while on his way to the chapel. It’s a remarkable, stirring set. This stark cover of the Carpenters’ hit (written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols) is only available on her official YouTube channel; it’s taken from a concert to promote the album.

3) Emily Jane White – “Pallid Eyes.” I picked up the Brit music magazine Uncut last week for the cover story on Neil Young and came across White’s latest effort, They Moved in Shadow All Together, while flipping through the reviews. It’s an atmospheric set with vocals that wash over you; and is well worth the download.

4) Amber Arcades – “Fading Lines.” Another find from the pages of Uncut, though the issue with the Prince tribute. A Dutch singer-songwriter (real name: Annelotte de Graaf), she’s backed by members of Quilt and Real Estate; and her debut album, of which this is the title cut, is a joy. Harkens back to the music of the early ‘90s (Belly, Breeders, Julianna Hatfield). Also, the video – of a skydiving excursion – is breathtaking.

5) Diane Birch – “Walk on Water.” I’ve written about Nous, the latest release from Birch, here and here. This moody track is one of its best.