Monday, October 21, 2013

Track of the Week: The Carpenters, "We've Only Just Begun"

Back when I still thought certain things I liked were "guilty pleasures," The Carpenters were one of my guiltiest.  My abiding love came from my childhood, mostly because they were my Mom's favorite and their music was the soundtrack to my happy years pre-Kindergarten, before school and my peers made my life miserable.  On so many mornings I can remember sitting on the yellow and green linoleum floor in the kitchen with a cassette of the Carpenters' greatest hits playing while my mother went about her chores.  Once I got older and developed my own musical tastes and began to eschew anything on the Top 40, I got a little ashamed of my love of the Carpenters, even though many of my indie rock heroes had contributed to the If I Were a Carpenter tribute album.

After growing up some more, I realized that I like what I like because I like it, and there's no reason to feel guilty about it.  In any case, The Carpenters produced some gorgeous pop tunes, with "We've Only Just Begun" near the top.  Yes, this song was written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols, but Karen Carpenter gives it a stunning vocal performance that is uniquely sublime.  I still get gooseflesh at the way she croons "And when the evening comes..."  Even at a young age, I thought it was a song that spoke of the joyful possibilities of life like few others.  My little four-year old soul was always lifted when I heard it.

It's an appropriate song today, when marriage equality is finally a reality in my state of New Jersey. "We've Only Just Begun" is ostensibly about a couple starting their new lives together, and I'm sure it will played at many weddings today.  As a society, we've only just begun to learn to let all people live with dignity; on this day of hope I pray that we can keep moving towards a more humane and equitable society.

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