We’ve Only Just Begun


We’ve Only Just Begun (m. Roger Nichols, w. Paul Williams)

From Wikipedia (image added):

Paul Williams and Roger Nichols (2)The song was originally recorded by Smokey Roberds, a friend of [Roger] Nichols, under the name “Freddie Allen”.[1] It debuted in a wedding-themed television commercial for Crocker National Bank in California in the winter of 1970 with [Paul] Williams on vocals. Hal Riney, founder of the San Francisco-based advertising agency Hal Riney & Partners, commissioned the song to help Crocker appeal to young people. The song played over footage of a young 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 commercial and guessed correctly that it was Paul Williams (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 it had only two verses and no bridge, Williams confirmed 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 the late summer of 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 #1 on the Cash Box singles chart and #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, becoming the pair’s second million-selling Gold single. It was considered by both Karen and Richard to be their signature song.[2]

Selected links


lyric (Carpenter’s version):


Crocker National Bank commercial, vocal by Paul Williams — 1970

Portions of the complete song were used in at least two Crocker Bank commercials. The first, “Wedding” (below), uses the same first two verses recorded by the Carpenters (with a slightly different back vocal). A later commercial, “Moving,” uses an alternate first verse, which is a combination of the first two verses as published, plus the third verse. Neither commercial includes the bridge: “Sharing horizons that are new to us…”


1970 recordings

Roger Nichols and Paul Williams — from the 1970 album We’ve Only Just Begun, Almo / Irving Music Records SP 8025


1970 We've Only Just Begun-Freddie Allen-B-side of White Whale WW-345

Smokey Roberds (as “Freddie Allen”) — issued in March 1970 on the single White Whale WW-345, b/w “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”


1970 Close to You (LP) Carpenters, A&M Records SP-4271Carpenters c. 1970 (1)

Carpenters — from the Carpenters’ second album, Close to You, A&M Records SP 4271, released on 19 August 1970; also issued two days later as the single A&M 1217, b/w “All of My Life”



(below) lead vocal with bass and drums; some back vocals can be faintly heard (1:00-1:06, and 1:51-1:57)


Tony Mottola — from the 1970 LP Close To You, Project 3 Total Sound PR 5050SD, PR 5050 SD


1971 It's Impossible (LP) Perry Como, RCA Victor LSP-4473 (d35)

Perry Como — from his 1970 album It’s Impossible, RCA Victor LSP-4473



Paul Williams montage 1

Paul Williams — side 1, track 3 of the 1971 album Just an Old Fashioned Love Song, (US) A&M SP 4327 (also SP-3131, according to Discogs.com)


Curtis Mayfield — live at The Bitter End in NYC, January 1971

A recording of Mayfield and his band performing the song at The Bitter End in NYC in January 1971 was released on the album Curtis/Live! in May that year. His introduction to the song:

A lot of folks think this particular lyric is not appropriate for what might be considered “underground,” but I think underground is whatever your mood or your feelings might be at the time, so long as it’s the truth. I think it’s very appropriate that we might lend a few words of inspiration about here.

with intro


without intro


Carpenters —  live at the BBC, 1971


Claudine Longet — from the LP We’ve Only Just Begun, Barnaby Z 30377, released in February 1971


Andy Williams — from the album Love Story, Columbia Records KC 30497, released in February 1971


1971 Visions (LP) Grant Green-Blue Note BST 84373 (1)

Grant Green — from the album Visions, Blue Note Records BST 84373, BST-84373, released on 21 May 1971


Ramsey Lewis — from the 1971 LP Back to the Roots, Cadet Records CA-60001


1972 and later

The Wooden Glass, featuring Billy Wooten — B-side of “Monkey Hips & Rice,” Interim Records ‎NR2658, issued in 1972



Johnny Hartman — from the 1972 LP Today, Perception Records PLP 30


Singer's Unlimited (1)

The Singers Unlimited — first track on their 1973 album Four of Us


El Chicano — from their 1973 LP El Chicano, MCA Records MCA-312


Carpenters — live at Budokan, 1974


Birds ‘N Brass — from the 1974 LP Birds ‘N Brass Are Back, Rediffusion (UK) 0100171, arranged by Keith Roberts


Sonny Stitt — from the 1974 album Tornado, Jazz Masters Records JM 1003, JMLP-1003


Carpenters tribute in photos, with 1995 instrumental cover by Richard Clayderman


Duo Cadenza — guitar and flute; uploaded by andy thompson on 20 December 2012


Paul Williams — 28 March 2012, at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, during the annual songwriters festival, Tin Pan South


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Before the rising sun, we fly | Songbook

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