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/Motown 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 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"
Song by The Beatles from the album With the Beatles
Released 22 November 1963 (mono)
30 November 1963 (stereo)
Recorded 30 July 1963
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock and roll
Length 2:36
Label Parlophone
Producer 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

Other versions[edit]

  • Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders (from Birmingham, England) recorded it as their 2nd single, released in Jan 1964, later released on LP on Birmingham Beat (1983); their version has a slowed-down "skiffle-beat" arrangement quite different from the original
  • Peggy Evers from Les Humphries Singers released a disco version in 1980
  • "Please Mr. Postman" is part of "The Greatest Medley Ever Told" sung by Whoopi Goldberg in the opening scene of the 1993 film, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
  • The Backbeat band covered the song for the 1994 film Backbeat
  • Uruguayan rockers El Cuarteto de Nos recorded a comedical version called in Spanish "Bo, cartero", for their 1994 album Otra Navidad en las Trincheras; it is one of the most known songs by the band, even though it's a cover version with the lyrics re-written to humorous effect.
  • The China Dolls covered the song for their album Cover Girls in 2003 which also featured singers from GMM Grammy
  • Morning Musume covered it as a Christmas English medley with 4 other songs
  • Juelz Santana sampled the Carpenters' version for the song "Oh Yes" on his 2005 album What the Game's Been Missing
  • The Saturdays performed a cover of the song on Celebrating The Carpenters
  • American rapper Lil Wayne sampled The Carpenters' version of the song on a mixtape track called "Mr. Postman"
  • Diana Ross and the Supremes made a cover
  • In the T.V show Phineas and Ferb there is an episode where there is a parody of the song
  • The song is referenced in Layzie Bone's opening verse for the 2003 Bone Thugs-n-Harmony song "Home"
  • In 2009, the dubstep producer Cragga made a dubstep version
  • Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans of Japan made an instrumental cover
  • Agnes Chan recorded a version of the song in the '70s for a Japanese album
  • Bob Rivers recorded a parody titled "Don't Shoot Mr. Postman"

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