The idea for the video came from a dream Robert Smith had where he was locked in a linen closet that fell off a cliff and into the ocean.
Robert Smith (from Q Magazine's 1001 Best Songs Ever): "It's weird because of all the songs we've written, 'Close To Me' doesn't spring to mind as one of our best songs. It was a slightly surreal moment on the record and it wasn't even a definite album track during the recording. It was only when I did the vocal and got really extreme on the production, making it really claustrophobic sounding, that it came to life. Up till that point it was average."
"The video had quite a big impact too. I suggested to Tim (Pope, director) doing it in a wardrobe on top of a cliff because of the uncomfortable feeling and I think that cemented it in the Cure canon."
In 1990, a remix of this called the "closet mix" was released as a single, going to #13 in the UK. Another version of the song, the "closer mix," was included on the album Mixed Up.
The song's original lyrics were totally different and much more upbeat. Robert Smith made a late switch to some other lines that he'd been hanging on to. The Cure frontman explained to Q Magazine:
"At the last minute I sang these words that I had left over. I didn't think there was anything musically that worked with the words. The words were actually about this sense of impending doom that I used to get. I had chicken pox when I was really young and it started there. I used to get these horrible, nightmarish visions of this head that used to hover in the chink of light that would come when the bedroom lights were turned off and the door was just ajar. The shaft of light that came from the hallway used to illuminate this patch of wallpaper and it would come to life and prophesy doom to me through the night whenever I put my eyes in that general direction. And it came back to me when I was writing The Head On the Door album. I was running myself into the ground a little bit and I started to suffer. I suddenly also started to get the same hallucinations, which was very odd.
That song was essentially about those two things, but at the last minute I tried singing them over this jaunty bassline and drum pattern. It just clicked."