If I Were a Carpenter (song)

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"If I Were a Carpenter" is a folk song written by Tim Hardin in the 1960s, and re-recorded with commercial success by various artists including Bobby Darin, The Four Tops and Johnny Cash.[1] Hardin's own recording of the piece appeared on his 1967 album Tim Hardin 2. It was one of two songs from that release (the other being "Misty Roses") performed by Hardin at Woodstock in 1969.[2] The song, believed by some to be about male romantic insecurity, is rumored to have been inspired by his love for actress Susan Morss, as well as the construction of Hardin's recording studio (in the home of Lenny Bruce).[3][1]

Bobby Darin version[edit]

"If I Were a Carpenter"
Single by Bobby Darin
B-side"Rainin'"
ReleasedOctober 1966
GenreFolk
Length2:22
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)Tim Hardin
Producer(s)Charles Koppelman, Don Rubin

The first notable version of "If I Were a Carpenter" was released by Bobby Darin in October 1966. The song was produced by Charles Koppelman and Don Rubin at Darin's insistence. Darin played the acoustic guitar on the recording. Darin took some time to record the song in his recording session, and did not finished the recording until 7 o'clock in the morning.[4] The song was released by Atlantic Records, whose executives were reluctant to release the song until it received enthusiastic response by radio audience on the West Coast when Koppleman manage to get the song played there.[4]

The song became the biggest hit for Darin since his 1963 song "You're the Reason I'm Living", reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[5] It also peaked at No. 9 in the UK.[6] Darin's recording received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Rock and Roll Solo Vocal Performance at the 9th Annual Grammy Awards, but lost to "Eleanor Rigby" by Paul McCartney.[4]

The song is the title song of Bobby Darin's album If I Were a Carpenter, also produced by Koppelman and Rubin.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[7] 8
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[8] 8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[9] 7
New Zealand (Listener)[10] 8
UK Singles (OCC)[11] 9

Four Tops version[edit]

"If I Were a Carpenter"
If I Were a Carpenter Four Tops.jpg
Single by Four Tops
from the album Reach Out
B-side"Wonderful Baby"
Released1968
GenreFolk, soul
Length2:47
LabelMotown
M 1124
Songwriter(s)Tim Hardin
Producer(s)Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier
Four Tops singles chronology
"Walk Away Renée"
(1968)
"If I Were a Carpenter"
(1968)
"Yesterday's Dreams"
(1968)

In 1968, The Four Tops hit the Top 20 on both the pop and soul charts with their version.[12] It also reached No. 7 in the UK charts in 1968 staying in the charts for 11 weeks.[13] It reached No. 4 in the Netherlands.[14]

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1968) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[15] 12
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[16] 21
Ireland (IRMA)[17] 6
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[18] 4
UK Singles (OCC)[19] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[20] 20
West Germany (Official German Charts)[21] 34

Johnny Cash version[edit]

"If I Were a Carpenter"
Single by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash
B-side"'Cause I Love You"
Released1970
StudioColumbia Recording Studios, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
GenreFolk, country
Length3:00
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Tim Hardin
Producer(s)Bob Johnston

In 1970, Johnny Cash and June Carter recorded a duet of the song, which went to No. 2 on the country chart and No. 36 on pop.[22] Their recording won Cash and June a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group at the 1971 Grammy.[23]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[24] 13
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[25] 11
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[26] 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[27] 9
US Billboard Hot 100[28] 36
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[29] 2

Robert Plant version[edit]

"If I Were a Carpenter"
Single by Robert Plant
from the album Fate of Nations
B-side"Ship of Fools" (Live from Montreaux)
"Tall Cool One" (Live from Montreaux)
Released1993
GenreRock
Length3:45
Label
Songwriter(s)Tim Hardin
Producer(s)
  • Chris Hughes
  • Robert Plant

In 1993 former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant released a version on his studio album Fate of Nations. Plant's version reached No. 63 on the UK Singles Chart.[30]

Personnel

Charts

Chart (1993) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[30] 63

Johnny Hallyday version (in French)[edit]

"Si j'étais un charpentier"
Single by Johnny Hallyday
Released1966 (1966)
LabelPhilips
Songwriter(s)French adaptation: Long Chris
Johnny Hallyday singles chronology
"Noir c'est noir"
(1966)
"Si j'étais un charpentier"
(1966)
"Hey Joe"
(1967)

French singer Johnny Hallyday covered the song in French in 1966. His version, titled "Si j'étais un charpentier", reached No. 3 in Wallonia (French Belgium).[31]

Track listings[edit]

7" EP Philips 437.281 BE (1966)

A1. "Si j'étais un charpentier" – 2:15
A2. "On s'est trompé" – 2:40
B1. "Je veux te graver dans ma vie" – 2:50
B2. "La fille à qui je pense" – 2:57[31]

Charts[edit]

"Si j'étais un charpentier" / "Je veux te graver dans ma vie" / "La fille à qui je pense"[31][32][33]
Chart (1966–1967) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[31] 3

Other versions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Morris, Charles (October 23, 2017). "'If I Were a Carpenter' – the folk singer whose song went on to become a Motown classic". ft.com. Financial Times. Retrieved October 19, 2021.
  2. ^ Evans, Mike (2010). Woodstock: Three Days that Rocked the World. Sterling. ISBN 9781402780349.
  3. ^ Songfacts. "If I Were A Carpenter by Bobby Darin - Songfacts". www.songfacts.com. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  4. ^ a b c Starr, Michael Seth (2011). Bobby Darin: A Life. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 153. ISBN 9781589795983 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 162.
  6. ^ "Bobby Darin". www.officialscharts.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6822." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  8. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Bobby Darin" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  9. ^ "Bobby Darin – If I Were A Carpenter" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  10. ^ "NZ listener charts > Bobby Darin". flavourofnz.co.nz.
  11. ^ "Bobby Darin: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 212.
  13. ^ "Four Tops". www.officialscharts.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  14. ^ "Dutch Charts: The Four Tops". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  15. ^ "The Four Tops – If I Were A Carpenter" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  16. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5774." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – If I Were A Carpenter". Irish Singles Chart.
  18. ^ "The Four Tops – If I Were A Carpenter" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  19. ^ "The Four Tops: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  20. ^ "The Four Tops Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Four Tops – {{{song}}}". GfK Entertainment charts.
  22. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 74.
  23. ^ Alexander, John M. (2018). The Man in Song. University of Arkansas Press. p. 128. ISBN 9781682260517 – via Google Books.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3753." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  25. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 3778." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  26. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 3774." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  27. ^ "June Carter Cash Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  28. ^ "June Carter Cash Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  29. ^ "June Carter Cash Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  30. ^ a b "if i were a carpenter | full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  31. ^ a b c d "Johnny Hallyday – Si j'étais un charpentier" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  32. ^ "ultratop.be - Johnny Hallyday - Je veux te graver dans ma vie". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  33. ^ "ultratop.be - Johnny Hallyday - La fille à qui je penses". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  34. ^ Janjatović, Petar (2007). EX YU ROCK enciklopedija 1960–2006. Belgrade: self-released. p. 49.
  35. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Chart August 19, 1972". Billboard. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  36. ^ "Bob Seger: Charts & Awards – Billboard Singles". AllMusic. United States. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  37. ^ "Leon Russell Chart History". Billboard.com. Billboard. Archived from the original on May 4, 2019. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  38. ^ "Leon Russell, Stop All That Jazz". Allmusic.com. Allmusic. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved December 28, 2019.