We've Only Just Begun
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|"We've Only Just Begun"|
Artwork for U.S. vinyl single
|Single by Carpenters|
|from the album Close to You|
|B-side||"All of My Life"|
|Released||September 12, 1970|
|Genre||Soft rock, traditional pop|
|Songwriter(s)||Paul Williams; Roger Nichols|
|Carpenters singles chronology|
|Close to You track listing|
"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, singing under the name of "Freddie Allen". It debuted within a wedding-themed television commercial for Crocker National Bank in California in the winter of 1970, with Williams on vocals. 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. 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 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 if 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; 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 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"). The song also helped them to win two Grammy Awards in 1971: for the Best New Artist (The Carpenters) and 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 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".
A 1981 cover version by Lee McDonald 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.
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 right beside her. He also was not playing the piano like he usually did.
- 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
- Curtis Mayfield (1971), appears on Curtis/Live!
- Bitty McLean (1995), reached No. 23 on the UK charts
- O'Donel Levy (1972), sampled by Pete Rock , Miguel, Craig Mack, etc. (per Whosampled.com)
- Bing Crosby, recorded for his album Beautiful Memories (1977)
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.
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