♫ If I Were A Carpenter ♫

Tonight, I was in the mood for some soul, thinking some Four Tops.  Trouble is, I’ve played most of my favourite Four Tops songs … and reduxed them in the past year.  I’ve got my standards, y’know!  But then, as I was looking back at one, a comment reminded me that the Four Tops had covered this song, If I Were a Carpenter, and … lo and behold, I hadn’t played that one yet!  Now, since so many have successfully covered this song, it wouldn’t be fair to only play the Four Tops version, so I will add a couple of others, just for some variety.  Let me know which is your favourite.

This song was written by the folk singer Tim Hardin, who performed it at Woodstock in 1969.  The song, it is said, was partly inspired by the construction of a recording studio for Hardin, in the home of Lenny Bruce, and by his love for actress Susan Morss.  Sadly, Tim Hardin died in 1980 at the young age of 39 from a heroine overdose.  But, we still have his legacy to enjoy!

The song has been covered by so many, including …

  • In 1966, it was a top ten hit for Bobby Darin, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also peaked at #9 in the UK. Bobby Darin also released an album If I Were a Carpenter, which contains the song.
  • In 1967, Joan Baez covered a gender-reversed version on her album Joan, initially renamed If You Were a Carpenter though later compilations reverted to the original title.
  • In 1968, The Four Tops hit the Top 20 on both the pop and soul charts with their version. It also reached #7 in the UK charts in 1968 staying in the charts for 11 weeks. It reached #4 in the Netherlands.
  • In 1970, a duet by Johnny Cash and June Carter went to #2 on the country chart.
  • In 1972, a cover by Bob Seger reached #76 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was released from his album Smokin’ O.P.’s.
  • In 1974, Leon Russell released a version with a funk tempo and his own rewritten lyrics from the perspective of a “rock star”. His single reached #73 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was included on his album Stop All That Jazz.
  • In 2005, a duet by Dolly Parton and Joe Nichols was included on Parton’s covers album Those Were The Days.

Whew … that’s enough to make my head spin!  Let’s start with the Four Tops version and go from there …

And Bobby Darin …

Last, but not least, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

If I Were a Carpenter
Four Tops/Bobby Darin/Johnny Cash/et al

If I were a carpenter
And you were a lady
Would you marry me anyway
Would you have my baby?

If you were a carpenter
And I were a lady
I’d marry you anyway
I’d have your baby

If a tinker was my trade
Would I still find you
I’d be carrying the pots you made
Following behind you
Save your love through loneliness
Save your love through sorrow
I gave you my onlyness
Give me your tomorrow

If I were a miller
And a mill wheel grinding
Would you miss your colored blouse
And your soft shoes shining?

If you were a miller
And a mill wheel grinding
I’d not miss my colored blouse
And my soft shoes shining

Save your love through loneliness
Save your love through sorrow
I gave you my onlyness
Give me your tomorrow

If I worked my hands on wood
Would you still love me?
I’d answer you yes I would
And would you not be above me?

If I were a carpenter
And you were a lady
I’d marry you anyway
I’d have your baby

Save your love through loneliness
Save your love through sorrow
I gave you my onlyness
Give me your tomorrow

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Tim Hardin
If I Were a Carpenter lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

25 thoughts on “♫ If I Were A Carpenter ♫

  1. The fact that there are so many versions of this song is proof just how good it is – and how good Tim Hardin was. Despite all of them, though, I don’t think anyone has ever bettered the original, and you didn’t include that! My second favourite, which is probably the cover which is truest to the original, is by Robert Plant.

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  2. Jill, it is a great song. Although there are better singers who do this, I kind of like the Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash version, given they are a couple who had to get over Cash’s obstacles to become one. Keith

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