The Carpenters
We've Only Just Begun

the carpenters

We've Only Just Begun was the second gold record for the sister/brother duo of Richard and Karen Carpenter, known simply as The Carpenters.

The song was written by Roger Nichols, with lyrics by Paul Williams. It was a contract piece written for a California savings bank commercial; supposedly Richard liked the tune and thought it would be a good fit for Karen's outstanding alto. Legend has it that he approached Williams about using the song, asking if there were additional verses. Whatever the actual circumstances were, "We've Only Just Begun" cemented the Carpenters stardom and became the first of many hits for the Nichols/Williams team.

Although the song did not top the charts as "Close To You" did a couple months earlier, it did reach #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts. It also won a Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Contemporary Song. And unlike some pop statndards that seem to become "anybody" songs where the original performance is eclipsed or forgotten (think "Unchained Melody"), "We've Only Just Begun" has remained indelibly linked to the Carpenters, even after countless cover versions and almost 40 years.

A brief snippet of the song plays can be heard here:

The Carpenters

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"White lace and promises"

1970 video of The Carpenters; Karen would continue to sit behind a drum kit for a couple more years before she became somewhat comfortable with the stage.

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Hardline traditionalists may bristle at the idea that a 1970 song is ranked among the classic "standards" of American Popular Song. Pay no attention to them. Like any truly great standard, "We've Only Just Begun" serves to define a time and a generation, yet it is also timeless -- sounding as current and musically compelling today as it did in 1970.

If you would like to read and listen to last month's forgotten gem, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, please click here.