♫ We’ve Only Just Begun ♫

In all honesty, I had a brief hour or so this evening when I decided I would stop my music posts.  A couple of friends have been hyper-critical because I play only the music that I like and am not open to their suggestions, most of which I find I simply don’t enjoy.  I have said since my very first music post that I’m open to suggestion, but if I don’t like a song you suggest, I won’t play it here.  Music, like many other things, is a matter of personal preference.  What makes me smile might make somebody else tune out, and that’s okay!  I don’t eat octopus, but I have a friend who loves it.  And that’s okay too.  So, ultimately I am not stopping my music posts and I will always welcome ideas and suggestions — just understand that if I don’t like them, I won’t play them and that doesn’t make me weird!  Music should bring joy, right?

This song by the Carpenters actually started out as a bank commercial!  Songwriters Paul Williams and Roger Nichols were commissioned by an advertising agency to write it in 1968 for Crocker Bank, which was trying to attract young people and newlyweds to their institution.  According to Paul Williams …

“It had all the romantic beginnings of a bank commercial’ is the way I describe it. There was actually a wonderful writer named Tony Asher who wrote for this ad agency, and he’d had a skiing accident and he broke his arm, so he couldn’t write or play the piano or whatever. So he suggested Roger Nichols and I as replacements to write this ad. The ad agency called us and said, “Look, we’re going to show a young couple getting married, driving off into the sunset, and it’s going to say, ‘You’ve got a long way to go, we’d like to help you get there to the Crocker Bank.'” And I went, Okay, what rhymes with Crocker? Crocker what? And they said very specifically, “No we don’t want a jingle.” What they asked for is what we would today call a music video. It was going to show a young couple getting married, driving off into the sunset. After the ceremony, the first kiss and all. So Roger and I wrote the song that would play over that.

We wrote the first two verses of ‘We’ve Only Just Begun.’ We wrote a second version of the commercial that was a verse, and what became the bridge. We added a third verse just in case anybody would ever want to record it. And then I assumed that it would never, ever get cut again. Richard (Carpenter), I guess, heard me singing it on the TV commercial, and called and asked if there was a complete song. And we went, ‘Well, funny you should ask.’ And if there hadn’t been a complete song, we would have lied and said, ‘Well, of course there is,’ and then sat down and written it. You know, songwriting in those days was like that, too. I remember finishing songs in the back seat of a publisher’s car on the way to play it for a producer. I retained my rights as a writer, and the publisher retained his rights as well.”

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 Paul Williams on vocals.  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.

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.”

Williams went on to write several more hits for the Carpenters, as well as songs for Barbra Streisand, Carole King and Three Dog Night. He also worked on many films as both a songwriter and an actor, composing the classics Evergreen from A Star Is Born and Rainbow Connection for The Muppet Movie.

We’ve Only Just Begun charted at #1 in Canada and #2 in the U.S.  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.

We’ve Only Just Begun
Carpenters

We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
(We’ve only begun)

Before the risin’ sun, we fly
So many roads to choose
We’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run
(And yes, we’ve just begun)

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day
Together

And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
(And yes, we’ve just begun)

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day
Together
Together

And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, we’ve just begun

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Paul Williams / Roger Nichols
We’ve Only Just Begun lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Tratore, DistroKid

40 thoughts on “♫ We’ve Only Just Begun ♫

  1. Like others, I enjoy your music posts and would never insist that you play something you don’t like. I’m the same with my music: there’s room for all tastes and just because I like something doesn’t mean that others should, though it’s nice when they do. I agree that Karen Carpenter had a lovely voice, I was just never attracted to their music. Each to their own!

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    • Thanks, Clive! Yes, you and I have discussed this before and I think we are of like minds. I really enjoy my music posts and I’m not planning to give them up, at least not anytime soon. It just frustrates me when someone tries to push me in another direction. No, I didn’t think you would like this one, for you and David both have told me before that you’re not fans of the Carpenters. Ah well … win some, lose some 😊

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        • I know … and they are far outnumbered by those like yourself who encourage rather than critique. Heck, as John Lydgate said centuries ago, “You cannot please all of the people all of the time” … and he didn’t even have a blog!

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  2. I enjoy the song, a ubiquitous background song of my teen years, sappy to me, sometimes amusing. We fly, then they’re choosing roads. What? I know, silly of me. This was a required song at high school dances, where we moved against one another in a dim room and held each other close. So, see, sappy, but necessary.

    Hugs and cheers

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      • You know, sappy changes definition (or maybe impressions) from era to era, person to person, moment to moment. What is one time called sappy is labeled as something else, depending upon the moment.

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        • Hmmmm … I suppose that’s true! I just always think of ‘sappy’ as being those dimestore novels that are all about “boy meets girl” and everyone ends happily everafter! B-o-r-i-n-g. Cheers ‘n hugs, Michael!

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  4. Notice I hardly ever request a song. This is your gig and I’m sitting here in the audience. I do like most music so whatever you play is usually fine with me. I will not repeat my trope about the Carpenters. It’s a super song.

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  5. Fortunate for me I do LUV the classic oldies/ rock, so 99% of what you play is music to my ears 🙂
    Karen Carpenter has the sweetest voice, she can sing the proverbial phonebook and sell out concerts! Her brother Richard is an accomplished musician and backup singer. I really adore the Carpenters discography, this song is exemplary. If you haven’t already, check out “Close to you”, “Superstar”, “Rainy days and Mondays”. Thanks for playing fabulous music Jill, keep doing you! ❤

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    • I’m so glad, Larry! Yes, her death was too soon and tragic, but then that’s the case, it seems, with so many talented artists … Jim Croce comes immediately to mind, and Marvin Gaye. I shall keep them up, and I’m so glad you enjoy them!

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  6. Paul Williams is one of my favourite singer/songwriters. He wrote the entire score for the Winnipeg-created cult classic, Phantom of the Paradise, a top-five all time favourite movie of mine.
    But, Jill, I do not criticize your choice in music unless I think it’s lyrics are anti-human or anti-feminist. And for me to say I am sad that you do not enjoy a lot of rock music is not a criticism, it is a statement of my feelings. I have never suggested you stop playing your music posts, nor would I. I will leave it at that.

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    • I’ve never heard of that movie, but yes, I have long loved the talent of Paul Williams and had no idea he had written this one.

      Don’t worry about it, rg … it’s not only you, but others who have tried to say that I’m not broadening my tastes, but … why, really, should I if I’m perfectly happy with the music I like?

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      • No reason.
        I doubt you would like Phantom of the Paradise, it moves from surf music to soft rock to hard rock. It is now a cult classic like Rocky Horror Picture Show. It died all over the States in less than a week, but thanks to Winnipeggers like me it lasted for four months straight and then had reruns. There have been at least two reunions in Winnipeg with Paul Williams and most of the cast getting back together. Unfortunately for me, I had left town before the first reunion. I would have loved to be there.

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