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|Single by The Marvelettes|
|Released||July 11, 1962|
|Recorded||May 19, 1962|
|Genre||Rock and roll, soul, doo-wop, R&B|
William "Mickey" Stevenson
|Producer(s)||William "Mickey" Stevenson|
|The Marvelettes singles chronology|
|Single by The Carpenters|
|from the album Made in America|
|The Carpenters singles chronology|
Written by Marvin Gaye, William "Mickey" Stevenson and George Gordy, the lyrics are about the singer wanting a man she just met to call her number in order to "have a date, any ol' time." Like with all the Marvelettes' other singles during the first phase of the group's career, the lead vocal was by Gladys Horton. The song's co-writer Marvin Gaye played drums on the track, which William Stevenson produced.
The song's title is derived from the now-defunct use of telephone exchange names in telephone numbers. In this case, the significant portions of the exchange name were the first two letters of "Beechwood" (BE), and the remainder of the number. In conventional modern use, this telephone number would be 234-5789.
"Beechwood 4-5789" has become a signature hit of Motown's early period but was not one of the label's biggest hits, reaching number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the autumn of 1962. The track did reach the R&B Top Ten where in fact the single enjoyed double A-side status with "Beechwood 4-5789" reaching number 7 and the flip "Someday, Someway" number 8; the latter track was a ballad from the writing-&-production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Freddie Gorman and featured Berry Gordy Jr's wife Raynoma Liles as organist.
The Carpenters' version
Although Richard Carpenter typically exercised control over the Carpenters' song choice, the idea to remake "Beechwood 4-5789" was evidently Karen Carpenter's. Mike Curb recalls Karen Carpenter playing him the original over the phone after telling him: "I've gotta play a song for you! You'll get a kick out of it! It is really fun! It'll bring back memories." When the record ended Karen Carpenter asked Curb; "So, what do you think of this as a single?" Although Curb saw no hit potential in a remake of "Beechwood 4-5789" he responded positively to Karen Carpenter's question, not having the heart to dampen her enthusiasm.
In fact "Beechwood 4-5789" would be issued as the fourth single from Made in America1 on 2 March 1982, Karen Carpenter's thirty-second birthday. The track debuted on the A/C chart in Billboard dated 27 March 1982 and entered the Billboard Hot 100 dated 24 April 1982 at number 83 becoming the twenty-seventh single by the Carpenters to reach the Hot 100, all the group's singles since their major label debut in 1969 having appeared on the chart.
A 1960s nostalgia-themed video for the Carpenters' "Beechwood 4-5789" was shot on A&M's Chaplin Stage. The video's setting is divided between a soda shop where couples dance and Karen sings, and a young woman's bedroom (implied to be that of Karen's character) where Karen sings seated in front of a dresser. Karen is then shown seated and singing alongside Richard playing the keyboard; the footage is superimposed onto the dresser in the bedroom, making the duo appear miniature, especially alongside a pink Princess telephone. The video ends with Richard and Karen singing along with the band performing in the shop in front of the couples dancing on seats.
The last single release by the Carpenters prior to Karen Carpenter's February 4, 1983 death, "Beechwood 4-5789" did not become a major hit, rising no higher than number 74 on the Hot 100; the track's A/C chart peak was number 18. "Beechwood 4-5789" did reach number 10 in New Zealand in March 1982 – the single having been released there that February prior to its US issue – making the track the last evident top ten hit by the Carpenters on a major national chart.
- 1Made in America also included the track "I Believe You" which had been a 1978 single release.
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||74|
|U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary||18|
A cover of "Beechwood 4-5789" served as the debut single for Ian and the Zodiacs in September 1963.
The Marvelettes version
- Lead vocals by Gladys Horton
- Background vocals by Wanda Young, Georgeanna Tillman, Wyanetta ("Juanita") Cowart, and Katherine Anderson
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers
- Vocals by Karen Carpenter and Richard Carpenter
- In 1966, Wilson Pickett recorded the song "634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)" written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper. 'Beechwood' as dialed on a telephone would equal BE, or 23, making the number 234-5789 (only one number difference from the Pickett song). Other than numbers, though, the songs have no similarities, musically or lyrically.
- One of the first discussions Morrissey and Johnny Marr had prior to forming The Smiths related to this particular song (taken from Morrissey's record collection).