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We've Only Just Begun

by

Carpenters



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This 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. (thanks, Brian - Funchal Madeira, Portugal)
Paul Williams told us: "'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."
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. He attributes his songwriting success to authenticity, explaining: "When 'We've Only Just Begun' was a #1 record, I think the #1 album in the country was "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." So it was as far away from what was happening in the music scene as you can get. And yet it was a hit. I think it was a hit because of, obviously, Karen [Carpenter]'s amazing vocal, but I think that any time we write authentically and honestly about what's going on in the center of our chest, because people are so much alike, there's a big a chance that it's going on in the center of your chest, too." (Check out our interview with Paul Williams.)
This song is very popular at weddings, as the lyrics describe a couple starting a new life together and living in harmony: "Talking it over, just the two of us, working together day by day." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Carpenters
Carpenters Artistfacts
More Carpenters songs
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More songs about being there for someone
More songs used in commercials
More songs often played at weddings

Comments (15):

On May 7th 1972, the Carpenters performed "We've Only Just Begun" on the Tom Jones' TV special 'The Special London Bridge Special'...
Two years earlier on September 6th, 1970 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #84; and on October 25th it peaked at #2 (for 4 weeks) and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 9 of those 17 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
And on October 4th, 1970 it reached #1 (for 7 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
The first three weeks it was at #2 the #1 record was "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5 and for the fourth week it was "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family...
It was the 2nd in a string of six straight Top 10 records by the duo; started with "Close To You" (#1 for 4 weeks), this one, "For All We Know" (#3 for 1 week), "Rainy Days and Mondays" (#2 for 2 weeks), Superstar" (#2 for 2 weeks), and finally "Hurting Each Other" (once again, #2 for 2 weeks)...
R.I.P. Ms. Carpenter (1950 - 1983).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
My husband and I danced to this at our wedding in 1972. We have danced to it every year since ... holding our babies, now holding our grandchildren!
- Kathleen, Palm Coast, FL
I graduated in '73 and this was our class motto. Seems kind of corny but listening to this always makes me wish I was back living those carefree days.
- Randy, Houghton Lake, MI
This song is also used in the horror movie, "1408" with John Cusack. Great juxtaposition.
- Mike, Matawan, NJ
I never knew Paul Williams wrote so many great tunes!
- blair, nowhere, NH
This song is so pure and beautiful. I'm glad it has endured.
- Siansonea, Denver, CO
clarinet and piano on the intro...nice!
and of course later on, all the hallmarks of a Carpenters single...it was a special sound.
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
This song is listed as one of the greatest songs of our time...I love singing it, it makes me feel like I can sing like Karen carpenter!!!
White lace and promises......
- Susan, Westchestertonfieldville, VA
I love this song like so many other by the Carpenters. I also greatly admire Paul Williams. I'm quite interested to see the comments for this song are almost entirely about Paul. He was a great songwriter - my fav Williams Carpenters' song is "Rainy Days and Mondays."

I loved the Odd Couple episode with Paul in it because it was just so incredibly unlikely that Edna would be in love with him.

As for the Phantom of the Paradise - it is one of the best cult movies I've ever seen along with Hot Rods to Hell. The record company Williams' character owned in the movie, he played Satan essentially in the movie, is Swan Songs. That caused some legal headaches for Paul and Zeppelin.
- David, Youngstown, OH
The high point of Paul Williams's career was starring in the movie, Phantom of the Paradise.
- fyodor, Denver, CO
Paul Williams appeared in the movie "Smokey and the Bandit". He was Little Enos Burdette. He also appeared on the many variety shows of the 70's
- Ron, Green Bay, WI
Paul Williams made an appearance on an episode of The Odd Couple series with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. He wrote the song he performed on the show in about a half hour during rehearsals. The story line is that Felix, Randall's character, wrote a note to his daughter Edna who had run away to follow Paul Williams in concert to try to get her to come back home. Williams wrote a song to let Edna know how much her father loves her. It was quite a touching episode.

Here are the lyrics to that song for all you Paul Williams fans:

And even though I'm not around to pick you up the times you're down
You know I think about you each and every day
And though I feel a love for you that's always growing, always new
The things I'm quick to feel I'm sometimes slow to say
And so I lay awake at night and worry, are you hungry, are you warm?
For there's nothing in this world too good for you
And then I turn around and make a list of things that you can't have
I only hope my good intentions still show through
You know the ones who love you expect the most from you

Once I held a perfect baby, you slept soundly in my arms
Now a woman is awakening in you
And I'll probably be jealous when your first love comes along
I guess that calls for extra understanding too
We'll order up a cup of tolerance for two
You know the ones who love you expect the most from you
- Bill, southeastern part of, FL
"We've Only Just Begun" has gone on to be one of modern music's most popular wedding songs.

The song was also used as the class song by many graduating classes of 1971.
- TimmT, Orange, CA
Paul Williams also wrote "You And Me Against The World" which was a hit for Helen Reddy. The Carpenters recorded several other Paul williams tunes including the classics "Rainy Days and Mondays", "Let Me Be the One" and "I Won't Last A Day Without You."

Just to add The Carpenters also recorded "The Rainbow connection" which was first released in 2001 on the disc "As Time Goes By", a collection of previously unreleased tunes by the Carpenters.
- TimmT, Orange, CA
If memory serves, Paul Williams also co-wrote the theme to "The Love Boat" TV series
- Keith, San Francisco, CA
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