Going commercial

From: Little Girl Blue (2010), by Randy L Schmidt:

“In early 1970, advertising agent Hal Riney hired Beach Boys’ lyricist Tony Asher to write a jingle for the Crocker Bank of California. After Asher broke his arm in a skiing accident he recommended Roger Nichols and Paul Williams for the job. “It actually turned out to be something very different,” Williams recalls. “Almost all commercials up to that point had pitch. They had copy, like ‘come to our bank’ or whatever. For this one they just wanted to show a little short movie of a young couple getting married and riding off into the sunset. They asked Roger and me to write a one-minute song that would accompany that movie.” With a budget of three hundred dollars and less than two weeks to write and record the song, Riney provided the songwriters with a bit of inspiration – his own slogan for the soft-sell campaign: “You’ve got a long way to go. We’d like to help you get there. The Crocker Bank.”

Nichols and Williams were busy with other projects and put this one aside until just before the deadline. “I came in that morning and was working on the tune,” Nichols says. “Paul came in a little after that, and within ten minutes he had written the first verse.” Williams grabbed an envelope and scribbled on the back:

We’ve only just begun to live

White lace and promises

A kiss for luck and we’re on our way

Within a half hour they had written two one-minute jingles. After the original commercials aired, Crocker Bank executives wished to give copies of the song to their employees and asked the songwriters to make it a complete song. “We finished the complete song as an afterthought,” Williams says. “When we put all the copy together and added a bridge we had the song. You can see some imperfection in the rhyme scheme in the third verse. It doesn’t rhyme like it’s supposed to. ‘Grow’ and ‘begun’ don’t rhyme like they should because that was actually the first verse of the second commercial.”

It was after a late-night recording session that Richard Carpenter caught the Crocker Bank commercial on television. Recognising Paul Williams’s lead vocal he figured it had to be a Nichols-Williams tune. “We got two phone calls right away,” Williams says. “The first was from Mark Lindsay and the second from Richard.”…

“Begun” assured the Carpenters were not one-hit wonders, and it went on to become the wedding song for an entire generation of newlyweds in the 1970s…

A review for Make Your Own Kind of Music: “Each number is introduced by the laboured use of a letter of the alphabet…”…in the Village Voice: “…dressing Karen Carpenter in fashions only a little less sickeningly sweet than those worn by Trisha Nixon…”…Karen lip-synced the musical numbers without even a prop microphone. With her hands free she made awkward attempts at gestures of emphasis and emotion…”

Derco2000 commented on YouTube, 3 months ago: “The theme song of my high school graduation class of 1971, and every other high school in California…”

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