Please Mr. Postman

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"Please Mr. Postman"
Single by The Marvelettes
from the album Please Mr. Postman
Released August 21, 1961
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); April 1961
Genre Rock and roll, soul, doo-wop, R&B
Length 2:31
Label Tamla T 54046
Writer(s) Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman
Producer(s) Brianbert (Brian Holland & Robert Bateman)
The Marvelettes singles chronology
"Please Mr. Postman"
(1961)
"Twistin' Postman"
(1961)

"Please Mr. Postman" is the debut single by the Marvelettes for the Tamla (Motown) label,[1] notable as the first Motown song to reach the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. The single achieved this position in late 1961; it hit number one on the R&B chart as well.[2] "Please Mr. Postman" became a number-one hit again in early 1975 when the Carpenters' cover of the song reached the top position of the Billboard Hot 100.

History[edit]

In April 1961, the Marvelettes (then known as "The Marvels") arranged an audition for Berry Gordy's Tamla label. Marvels member Georgia Dobbins needed an original song for their audition, and got a blues song from her friend William Garrett, which she then reworked for the group. Dobbins left the group after the audition and was replaced, Gordy renamed the group and hired "Brianbert"—Brian Holland and Robert Bateman's songwriting partnership—to rework the song yet again. Freddie Gorman, another songwriting partner of Holland (before Holland became part of the Holland–Dozier–Holland team) was also involved in the final reworking.

The Marvelettes recording features lead singer Gladys Horton hoping that the postman has brought her a letter from her boyfriend, who is away at war. Accompaniment is provided by the Funk Brothers, including Marvin Gaye on drums.

Songwriting credits for "Please Mr. Postman" seem to have changed over the years. The original Tamla 45 single for the Marvelettes' version credits "Dobbins/Garett/Brianbert" as the songwriters, and credits "Brianbert" as producer. The original With the Beatles album cover credited it to just Brian Holland. The 1976 Beatles discography book All Together Now credits it to Holland, Bateman, and Berry Gordy. The 1992 Motown boxed set Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection credits Dobbins, Garrett, Holland, Bateman, and Gorman as the composers. The Songwriters Hall of Fame credits "Please Mr. Postman" to just Holland, Bateman, and Gorman.[3] EMI Music Publishing, the current music publisher of the song list all five writers in their catalog.

"Please Mr. Postman" has been covered frequently, including a version by English rock group the Beatles on their With the Beatles album. Sung by John Lennon, their version reverses the genders.[1] The Marvelettes' version appears in a bar fight scene in Mean Streets (1973), directed by Martin Scorsese. Later, a second hit version was recorded by the Carpenters, whose version took the song again to number one on the Hot 100 in early 1975. The Pat Boone Family released their version of the song at approximately the same time, resulting in both versions appearing simultaneously on the South African Hit Parade. The Carpenters' cover version was also sampled by rapper Juelz Santana for his single "Oh Yes". It is used by the Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show to introduce their Listener Mail segment, and was sung by the presenters of British Saturday morning show SMTV Live to introduce the mailbag section.

The Marvelettes personnel[edit]

Chart (1961) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard R&B Singles 1

The Beatles[edit]

"Please Mister Postman"
The Japanese single release of the song, backed with "Money (That's What I Want)"
Single by The Beatles
from the album With the Beatles
A-side "Roll Over Beethoven" (Canada)
Released
  • 22 November 1963 (mono)
  • 30 November 1963 (stereo)
Recorded 30 July 1963
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock and roll
Length 2:36
Label Capitol 72133 (Canada)
Producer(s) George Martin
With the Beatles track listing

The Beatles included "Please Mister Postman" as part of their live act in 1962, performing it regularly at the Cavern Club. By the time it was recorded for their second album, With The Beatles, it had been dropped from their set, and required some work in the studio to bring it up to an acceptable standard.[4] Ian MacDonald criticised their version for having a "wall of sound" and for a "general airlessness."[4]

The Beatles personnel[edit]

The Beatles personnel per MacDonald[4]

The Carpenters[edit]

"Please Mr. Postman"
Single by The Carpenters
from the album Horizon
A-side "Please Mr. Postman"
B-side "This Masquerade"
Released November 8, 1974
Format 7" single
Recorded 1974
Genre Pop
Length 2:50
Label A&M 1646
Producer(s) Richard and Karen Carpenter
The Carpenters singles chronology
"I Won't Last a Day Without You"
(1974)
"Please Mr. Postman"/"This Masquerade"
(1974)
"Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"
(1974)

The Carpenters' version resembles an old 1950s rock & roll song. The single was released in late 1974, reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts in January 1975,[5] and was the duo's 12th million-selling single gold record. The corresponding Horizon album was belatedly released in June 1975 and went Platinum.

Music video[edit]

A music video of the song, filmed in Disneyland, can be found on the DVD Gold: Greatest Hits (released in 2002), originally packaged as Yesterday Once More (released on VHS in 1985).

Personnel[edit]

Chart[edit]

Chart (1975) Peak
position
Australian Kent Music Report 1
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Oricon International Singles Chart 1
Oricon (Japanese) Singles Chart 11
UK Singles Chart 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 1

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 25 - The Soul Reformation: Phase two, the Motown story. [Part 4]" (AUDIO). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 379. 
  3. ^ "Brian Holland". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). p. 91. ISBN 1-84413-828-3. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 47. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Big Bad John" by Jimmy Dean
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (The Marvelettes version)
December 11, 1961 (one week)
Succeeded by
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens
Preceded by
"Mandy" by Barry Manilow
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (The Carpenters version)
January 25, 1975 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Laughter in the Rain" by Neil Sedaka