The Four Tops – If I Were A Carpenter


Something of a standard these days, If I Were A Carpenter is most often treated in much the same way as Tim Hardin’s original version: as a rather gentle, folkish pop song. In The Four Tops’ hands, however, it’s something else entirely.

The most notable thing about the record – as with all Four Tops records – is Levi Stubbs’ urgent, pleading vocal. Unlike Hardin (or Bobby Darin or Johnny Cash or Robert Plant) he sounds like a man who really means business. Never mind all the poetic reasoning, his voice alone should be enough to convince the girl to, at the very least, marry him.

The song’s production is dense, tight and thunderous – and a little more so than the usual trademark Motown sound. It’s as if they’d decided that if they were going to depart from the original song, they were really going to depart from it. It goes without saying, of course, that the musicianship is absolutely top notch.

For me, this is the only reading of the song that makes sense: because it’s the only version that gets close to capturing the swagger and arrogance of what is possibly the song’s key statement:

If I worked my hands in wood,
Would you still love me?
Answer me babe: “Yes I would,
I’d place you high above me.”

Advertisements

About Paul Saxton

Follow me on Twitter if you like: @paulsaxton
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s