"We've Only Just Begun" is a hit single by The Carpenters written by Roger Nichols (music) and Paul Williams (lyrics). Ranked at No. 414 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", it is frequently used as a wedding song.
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 Williams on vocals. Hal Riney of the San Francisco-based advertising agency Hal Riney & Partners had commissioned the song to help Crocker appeal to young people. 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 the bank was not interested in, young adult customers without any collateral for loans, so the campaign was eventually suspended, after which the concept was franchised by Crocker to other banks.
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 if 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 they 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'.
Carpenter selected the composition for the duo's third single and included it on the LP Close to You. Released in late summer 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 No. 1 on the Cash Box singles chart and No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 behind The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" and The Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You", becoming the pair's second million-selling gold single. It 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 No. 1 (beating the six-week stay at the top of "Close to You"). The song also helped them to win two Grammy Awards in 1971: for the Best New Artist (The Carpenters) and Best Contemporary Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus ("Close to You").
For Williams, the song was a personal victory; it was his first collaboration with Nichols that resulted in a hit single, and it opened the door to many more thereafter. In 1998, the recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for recordings "of lasting quality or historical significance".
A 1981 cover version by Lee McDonald has been a modern soul classic for many years. The song was sampled in R&B singer Miguel's song "How Many Drinks?", taken from his Grammy-nominated 2012 album Kaleidoscope Dream. In 2016, the song was used in another commercial, this time for Lowe's Home Improvement.
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.