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"We've Only Just Begun" is The Carpenters' signature song. Although it was recorded in early 1970, it is still much in demand as a wedding anthem. Written by the songwriting team of Roger Nichols (music) and Paul Williams (lyrics), the song originally debuted in a commercial for Crocker National Bank in Californiamarker in 1970, with Williams providing the vocals. Williams has said they left out a direct reference to the bank in part to make it salable as a pop song, and also because they couldn't conceive a reasonable rhyme for "Crocker." It is ranked #405 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of "the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

The song was originally recorded by Smokey Roberds, a friend of Nichols, under the name Freddie Allen (his Christian names). Although fairly successful in California, it made no impact nationally, which Roberds attributed to promotion and distribution problems.

Believing that the song had hit potential, Richard 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 his sister Karen's lead vocals and the overdubbed harmonies of both siblings. Following their hit " Close to You" onto the charts, "We've Only Just Begun" crested at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, becoming the pair's second gold single and was considered by both Karen and Richard to be their signature song. According to The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (6th edition), on the U.S. Adult Contemporary singles chart, it was the duo's best-performing tune, lasting seven weeks at #1 (besting the six-week stay at the top of "Close To You"). The song helped them to win two Grammy Awards in 1971. One was for the Best New Artist (The Carpenters), and the other was for Best Contemporary Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus (Close to You).

In 1998, the recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for recordings of lasting quality or historical significance.

Chart Peak

U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 1
Record World 1
Canadian Singles Chart 2
Oricon (Japanese) Singles Chart 71
UK Singles Chart 28

Paul Williams Version

Songwriter Paul Williams recorded the song for his 1971 album "An Old Fashioned Love Song".

Carpenters compilation appearances

  • 1973 - The Singles: 1969-1973 (1973 remix)
  • 1980 - Beautiful Moments
  • 1985 - Yesterday Once More: Their Greatest Hits (1985 remix)
  • 1989 - Anthology
  • 1991 - From The Top (1991 remix)
  • 1995 - Interpretations: A 25th Anniversary Edition
  • 1997 - Carpenters: Their Greatest Hits And Finest Performances
  • 1998 - Love Songs
  • 2000 - The Singles: 1969-1981
  • 2002 - The Essential Collection
  • 2004 - Gold: 35th Anniversary Edition

Notable cover versions

In 1996, Grant Lee Buffalo covered this song on If I Was Carpenter: A Tribute to The Carpenters.

Other covers:

In cinema

The song was used in a rather unusual context in the film "1408" adapted from an eponymous short story by Stephen King, marking a beginning of a horrible experience the protagonist had to come through. It was also used as the closing song in the 2000 gay ensemble "Broken Hearts Club," performed by Mary Beth Maziera (sp?). This song was featured as the end of the Australian film, The Castle, which was sang by Kate Ceberano. The song was also played in John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness, heard when the protagonist has been committed to an insane asylum. The song can be heard playing through the speakers in the halls of the asylum.

In television, the song was performed on The Steve Harvey Show. Lydia (and briefly Bullethead) performed the song during Cedric's and Lovita's marriage ceremony.


  1. We've Only Just Begun by The Carpenters Songfacts
  2. [Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, The Originals Vol. 32][1]
  3. The Singles: 1969-1973

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