We've Only Just Begun
|"We've Only Just Begun"|
|Single by Carpenters|
|from the album Close to You|
|B-side||"All of My Life"|
|Released||September 12, 1970|
|Genre||Soft rock, traditional pop|
|Writer(s)||Paul Williams; Roger Nichols|
|Carpenters singles chronology|
"We've Only Just Begun" is a hit single by Carpenters written by Roger Nichols (music) and Paul Williams (lyrics). Ranked at No. 405 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", it is frequently used as a wedding song.
The song was originally recorded by Smokey Roberds, a friend of Nichols, under the name "Freddie Allen". It debuted in a wedding-themed television commercial for Crocker National Bank in California in the winter of 1970 with Williams on vocals. Hal Riney, founder of the San Francisco-based advertising agency Hal Riney & Partners, commissioned the song to help Crocker appeal to young people. The song played over footage of a young couple getting married and just starting out. Direct reference to the bank was left out, in part to make the song more marketable. The commercial was very popular and Crocker National's business flourished.
Richard Carpenter saw the commercial and guessed correctly that it was Paul Williams (both of them were under contract to A&M records). Carpenter ran into Williams on the record company's lot and asked if a full-length version was available. Although it had only two verses and no bridge, Williams confirmed that there was a bridge and an additional verse, forming a complete song; he and Nichols went on to write them. Carpenter selected the composition for the duo's third single and included it on the LP Close to You.
Released in the late summer of 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, 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"). The song also helped them to win two Grammy Awards in 1971. One was for the Best New Artist (The Carpenters) and the other was for Best Contemporary Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus (Close to You).
For Williams, the song was a personal victory; it was his first collaboration with Nichols that had 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".
There was a 1981 cover version by Lee McDonald which has been a modern soul classic for many years. The song was sampled in R&B singer Miguel's song "How Many Drinks?", taken from his Grammy-nominated 2012 album Kaleidoscope Dream. In 2016 the song was used in another commercial; this time for Lowe's Home Improvement.
- Karen Carpenter – lead and backing vocals
- Richard Carpenter – co-lead & backing vocals, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, orchestration
- Joe Osborn – bass
- Hal Blaine – drums
- Doug Strawn – clarinet
- Uncredited - tambourine, trumpets
Carpenters compilation appearances
- 1973 – The Singles: 1969–1973 (1973 remix)
- 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
- Perry Como (1970)
- Dionne Warwick (1970)
- Mark Lindsay (1970)
- Ray Conniff (1970)
- Paul Williams (1971) on album Just An Old Fashioned Love Song
- Claudine Longet (1971) on We've Only Just Begun
- Andy Williams (1971) on album Love Story
- Claudine Longet (1971)
- Grant Green (1971)
- Curtis Mayfield (1971)
- Johnny Mathis (1971)
- Bill Medley (1971)
- Barbra Streisand (1971), unreleased until 1991
- Nora Aunor (1971), on album The Song of My Life
- The Wooden Glass featuring Billy Wooten (1972), on album The Wooden Glass Recorded Live
- Henry Mancini (1972)
- Seija Simola (as "Nyt Alun Uuden Nään") (1972)
- The Temprees (1972)
- El Chicano (1973)
- Lea Laven (as "Niin Paljon") (1974)
- Liberace (1989)
- Richard Clayderman (1986)
- Grant Lee Buffalo (1994)
- Bitty McLean (1995), reached No. 23 on the UK charts
- Kate Ceberano (1997), for the soundtrack album of Australian movie The Castle
- Lea Salonga (2000)
- Bradley Joseph (2005)
- Peter Grant (2006)
- Joanna Wang (王若琳) covered the song which was published on an EP 4 Tracks (Sony Music Taiwan)
- Agot Isidro (2009), on her album named after the song's lyrics "White Lace and Promises"
- New Cool Collective (2013), with singer Trijntje Oosterhuis
- Dami Im (2016) recorded a version for her album Classic Carpenters.
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.
- 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
- The Singles: 1969–1973
- "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970", musicoutfitters.com (retrieved 12 June 2016).
- "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.