We've Only Just Begun

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"We've Only Just Begun"
We've Only Just Begun (Single).jpg
Artwork for U.S. vinyl single
Single by Carpenters
from the album Close to You
B-side"All of My Life"
ReleasedAugust 21, 1970
GenreSoft rock,[1] traditional pop
Songwriter(s)Paul Williams; Roger Nichols
Producer(s)Jack Daugherty
Carpenters singles chronology
"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
"We've Only Just Begun"
"Merry Christmas Darling"

"We've Only Just Begun" is a single by the Carpenters, written by Roger Nichols (music) and Paul Williams (lyrics). It was ranked at No. 414 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."[2]

Song information[edit]

The song was originally recorded by Smokey Roberds, a friend of Nichols, singing under the name of "Freddie Allen".[3] It debuted within a wedding-themed television commercial for Crocker National Bank in California in the winter of 1970, with Paul Williams on vocals.[4] Hal Riney of the San Francisco-based advertising agency Hal Riney & Partners had commissioned the song to help Crocker appeal to young people. The song played over footage of a couple getting married and just starting out. In the song, direct reference to the bank was left out, in part to make the song more marketable. The commercial turned out to be very popular, but it attracted customers in which the bank was not interested: young adult customers with no collateral for loans. The campaign was eventually suspended, and Crocker subsequently franchised it to other banks.[5]

Richard Carpenter saw the TV commercial and guessed correctly that Williams was the vocalist (both of them were under contract to A&M Records). Carpenter ran into Williams on the record company's lot and asked whether a full-length version was available. Although the TV commercial had only two verses and no bridge, Williams stated that there was a bridge and an additional verse, forming a complete song, which was then delivered.

According to Williams in the documentary Close to You: Remembering The Carpenters "We'd had some success with songs before, a few album cuts and some B-sides - but no singles. This was a major break, a chance to get an A-side and maybe even a hit, so we would have absolutely lied through our teeth if there wasn't a full song."

Carpenter selected the composition for the duo's third single and included it on the LP Close to You. Released in late summer 1970, the single featured Karen's lead vocals and the overdubbed harmonies of both siblings. Following their hit "(They Long to Be) Close to You" onto the charts, "We've Only Just Begun" hit No. 1 on the Cash Box singles chart and No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 behind the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" and the Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You", becoming the pair's second million-selling gold single. It was considered by both Karen and Richard to be their signature song. According to The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (6th edition), on the U.S. Adult Contemporary singles chart, it was the duo's best-performing tune, lasting seven weeks at No. 1 (beating the six-week stay at the top of "Close to You").[6] The song also helped them to win two Grammy Awards in 1971: Best New Artist and Best Contemporary Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus (for "Close to You").

Williams recorded his own version of the song for his 1971 album Just an Old Fashioned Love Song.

Cash Box described the song as having "delicious lyrics and a sparkling production."[7]

For Williams, the song was a personal victory; it was his first collaboration with Nichols that resulted in a hit single, and it opened the door to many more thereafter. In 1998, the recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for recordings "of lasting quality or historical significance".[8]

Although it only charted at number 28 in the UK Singles Chart in 1970, its subsequent growth in popularity in the UK saw it voted second in The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Song, broadcast by ITV in 2016.[9]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was shot in a red background with the letters for the word "you". Karen was sitting in the letter "u" while Richard was standing beside her. He also was not playing the piano as he usually did. The video was shot as part of the 1971 television series "Make Your Own Kind of Music".



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[16] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[17] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


Carpenters compilation appearances[edit]

  • 1973 – The Singles: 1969–1973 (1973 remix with intro)
  • 1980 – Beautiful Moments
  • 1985 – Yesterday Once More: Their Greatest Hits (1985 remix)
  • 1989 – Anthology
  • 1991 – From the Top (1991 remix)
  • 1995 – Interpretations: A 25th Anniversary Edition
  • 1997 – Carpenters: Their Greatest Hits And Finest Performances
  • 1998 – Love Songs
  • 2000 – The Singles: 1969-1981
  • 2002 – The Essential Collection
  • 2004 – Gold: 35th Anniversary Edition
  • 2009 – 40/40
  • 2014 – Icon (as part of Universal Music's budget line compilation series)

Notable cover versions[edit]

In cinema and television[edit]

The song was used in an unusual context in 1408, a film adapted from a short story by Stephen King; it marked the onset of the protagonist's horrific ordeal. It also closed the 2000 gay ensemble, The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy, performed by Mary Beth Maziarz. "We've Only Just Begun" was featured at the conclusion of the Australian film, The Castle, where it was sung by Kate Ceberano. It was also part of the score of John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness, where it was heard playing over loudspeakers while the protagonist was committed to a psychiatric hospital. The song was also sung by Carl Weathers in the motion picture, Happy Gilmore, and was featured in the film version of Starsky & Hutch. It is referenced in the movie Hudson Hawk by James Coburn´s characther who said "In the words of the late Karen Carpenter: We´ve only just begun".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Sophie (July 17, 2021). "Best Wedding Songs: Tunes For Every Moment Of Your Big Day".
  2. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2011-04-07. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  3. ^ Pierce, Dave (2008). Riding on the ether express: a memoir of 1960s Los Angeles, the rise of Freeform Underground Radio, and the legendary KPPC-FM. Center for Louisiana Studies, ISBN 9781887366779
  4. ^ Schmidt, Randy (Randy L.) (2010). Little girl blue : the life of Karen Carpenter. London. ISBN 978-1-84938-550-3. OCLC 858842610.
  5. ^ "Excerpt from Hal Riney biographical feature". Youtube.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  6. ^ "Billboard Adult Contemporary Week of October 10, 1970". Billboard.
  7. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. September 12, 1970. p. 14. Retrieved 2021-12-09.
  8. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". GRAMMY.org. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  9. ^ "The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Song". ITV. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 2016-10-09. Retrieved 2016-09-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  12. ^ "Top 100 1970-11-07". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  13. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1970". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2016-07-07.
  15. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  16. ^ "British single certifications – Carpenters – We've Only Just Begun". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  17. ^ "American single certifications – The Carpenters – We've Only Just Begun". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  18. ^ "Curtis Live!". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 September 2017.

External links[edit]