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‘The song (They long to Be) Close to You, which was a vast hit because that the Carpenters, opens with the words: “Why execute birds suddenly show up / Every time you are near?”’

Perhaps some human being Google this question looking for an explanation for the sudden appearance of birds – before an electrical storm, say, or top top the 2nd day of Christmas. Most, though, are searching for Burt Bacharach’s famous song, making use of its first line rather than that clumsy title: (They lengthy to Be) Close come You. The tune was a substantial hit for the Carpenters, and also the inquiry it opens up with – “Why carry out birds suddenly show up / Every time you space near?” – is the one ns going come answer.

To state the obvious, the a rhetorical question. As the singer well knows, it’s because she is in the sweaty yet vice-like tight of infatuation. This state of mental is the suggest of the song, which doesn’t tell any type of kind that story. That she is, who he is, where they met (if they’ve also met), we don’t know. (And prior to you ask: no, she’s not a stalker – as the gentle guide of the tune makes plain, there is naught sinister about this crush.)

Richard Chamberlain to be the very first to document the song, in 1963, at which suggest the last verse stated “all the guys in town / follow you around”. Because that female vocalists these guys were changed to girls, therefore there’s no sexism in the use of the diminutive: this overpowering attraction is a unisex one. The “hair of gold” and “eyes of blue” in city three, ~ above the other hand, were never altered, i m sorry might help explain why Dionne Warwick’s version never captured on in the way the Carpenters’ did. Did an African-American soul star swooning over a blond-haired, blue-eyed young not have quite the same ring in 1964 as the all-American, white Karen Carpenter did as soon as the solitary shot come No 1 six years later?

My husband’s job is come write around pop music, and while i don’t I’m offered to talking around it. Yet my breezy sell to write around this song, make after my choir sang it, feel over-hasty as soon as I’d do it. I’m far from skilled on the prolific, brilliant songwriting partnership of Bacharach and also lyricist Hal David (they composed Raindrops save Fallin’ on mine Head, walk on By and I say a tiny Prayer among other standards).

Not everyone at choir love the song. Several of David’s native – his blond-haired, blue-eyed dreamboat; his angels sprinkling moondust and starlight – feel as though they’ve walked out of a publication of romantic cliches. Yet you can not argue v that first line – for this reason sweet and also yet so serious. Why walk the civilization look various when we loss in love? Why carry out those us lust after show up enchanted? room these points really happening, or space our minds play tricks ~ above us? The singer is curious, yet aren’t us all?

I can have test a scientific explanation all around hormones and also chemicals – exactly how testosterone, oestrogen, oxytocin and serotonin are component of the story of sex-related attraction. Execute birds suddenly show up when we space fertile?

Or I can have created a psychoanalytic one, around how the emotion of fall in love reawakens few of our earliest experiences of gratitude. Carry out birds suddenly show up because our volume for appreciation has actually been fed by an enig springs of emotion?

Both answers might be true, however neither states anything around the tune – without which the words would certainly be nothing. So i phoned Lis Stewart, the music teacher who runs mine choir, to ask she what that is about the melody that has actually made it stick about for half a century. She claimed the trick is the method the rinky-tink introduction, for this reason familiar and also stuck in one place, unexpectedly stops – for this reason the 3 notes that follow (Why execute birds … ) come together a surprise. Also, the intervals in between these notes are unusual: “It’s not moving step by step, it’s type of leaping, it’s the climbing intervals that always sound hopeful.”

There’s no verse-chorus framework either, which renders the entirety thing more fluid. It also means that while the chorus is usually the catchy bit of a song, right here it isn’t. Instead, that course, us remember that upwardly lilting question: “Why perform birds suddenly appear / Every time you space near?”

It’s since she fancies him.

Susanna Rustin is a Guardian writer and also editor

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