Written and first released by Tim Hardin (1966).
Hit versions by Bobby Darin (US #8/UK #9 1966), The Four Tops (US #20/R&B #17/UK #7 1968), Johnny Cash & June Carter (US #36/C&W #2 1970).
From the wiki: “‘If I Were a Carpenter’ was written by Tim Hardin (‘Reason to Believe‘), and first released by him in 1966 as the B-side to ‘How Can We Hang On to a Dream’. The recording would see a subsequent release in 1967 on the album Hardin 2. According to Mojo magazine (February 2012), the song was partly inspired by engineer John Judnich, who built for Hardin a small recording setup in Lenny Bruce’s Sunset Plaza house.
“Hardin and Bobby Darin attended each others recording session at the studio and swapped songs, with Hardin recording Darin’s ‘Simple Song Of Freedom’ that became Hardin’s only charting recording (US #47 1969). Darin’s Top-10 recording of ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ used the same arrangement and instrumentation as Hardin’s original.
“The Four Tops covered ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ in 1968 – charting in both the Top 20 Billboard Hot 100 and R&B/Soul charts, and the UK Top 10. Johnny Cash and June Carter scored a C&W Top 5 hit in 1970 with their recording.”
Bobby Darin, “If I Were a Carpenter” (1966):
The Four Tops, “If I Were a Carpenter” (1968):
Johnny Cash & June Carter (1970):