Please Mr. Postman

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"Please Mr. Postman"
Please Mr Postman by The Marvelettes US vinyl single.jpg
Picture sleeve of the U.S. vinyl single
Single by The Marvelettes
from the album Please Mr. Postman
B-side"So Long Baby"
ReleasedAugust 21, 1961
RecordedApril 1961
StudioHitsville U.S.A. (Studio A)
GenreSoul, doo-wop, R&B
Length2:31
LabelTamla T 54046
Songwriter(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 a song written by Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland and Robert Bateman. It 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. "Please Mr. Postman" has been covered several times, including by the British rock group The Beatles in 1963.

The Marvelettes version[edit]

Background[edit]

In April 1961, the Marvelettes (then known as "The Marvels") arranged an audition for Berry Gordy's Tamla label. Marvels original lead singer 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, himself a Detroit postman and 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. Accompaniment is provided by the Funk Brothers, including Marvin Gaye on drums. The Marvelettes' version later appeared in a bar fight scene in the film Mean Streets (1973), directed by Martin Scorsese.

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 1987 CD release credits it to "Dobbin-Garrett-Garman-Brianbert"). The 1976 Beatles discography book All Together Now credits the songwriting 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.

Ava DuVernay was commissioned by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture to create a film which debuted at the museum's opening on September 24, 2016. This film, August 28: A Day in the Life of a People, tells of six significant events in African-American history that happened on the same date, August 28. Events depicted include (among others) the release of the song.[4]

The song was on Billboard's top 100 chart for 23 weeks, and peaked at number 1 the week of December 11, 1961.[5] Billboard named the song #22 on their 2017 list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.[6]

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1961–62) Peak
position
New Zealand (Lever Hit Parade)[9] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 1
US Billboard Hot R&B Sides [11] 1

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[12] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[13] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

The Beatles version[edit]

"Please Mr. Postman"
The-beatles-roll-over-beethoven-1964-27-s.jpg
Picture sleeve for the 1964 Swedish single release
Song by the Beatles
from the album With the Beatles
Released
  • 22 November 1963 (mono)
  • 30 November 1963 (stereo)
Recorded30 July 1963
StudioEMI, London
Genre
Length2:36
LabelCapitol 72133 (Canada)
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)George Martin

Background[edit]

"Please Mr. Postman" was covered in a version by British rock group the Beatles on their With the Beatles album in the UK and on The Beatles' Second Album in the US. Sung by John Lennon, their version reverses the genders.[1] The song was produced by George Martin.

The Beatles included "Please Mr. Postman" as part of their live act in 1962, performing it regularly at the Cavern Club. They also performed the song three separate times during live performances on the BBC. 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.[14] Ian MacDonald criticised their version for having a "wall of sound" and for a "general airlessness."[14] It was released by Capitol in Canada with "Roll Over Beethoven" as the A-side. This release reached number 68 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100[15] and number 30 on the Cash Box Singles chart.[16] In Sweden, it peaked at number 11 on the Kvällstoppen Chart.[17]

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald.[14]

Carpenters version[edit]

"Please Mr. Postman"
Please Mr. Postman (Carpenters).jpg
Single by Carpenters
from the album Horizon
B-side"This Masquerade"
ReleasedNovember 8, 1974
RecordedSeptember 1974
GenrePop
Length2:50
LabelA&M 1646
Songwriter(s)Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman
Producer(s)Richard and Karen Carpenter
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)

Background[edit]

A hit cover of "Please Mr. Postman" was recorded by the Carpenters, whose version took the song again to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1975. 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,[18] and was the duo's 10th and final million-selling single. The corresponding Horizon album was belatedly released in June 1975 and went Platinum.

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. Reaching number two in the UK Singles Chart in 1975, in a UK television special on ITV in 2016 it was voted number one in The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Song.[19]

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 and LaserDisc in 1985).

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1974–75) Peak
position
Australian (KMR) [20] 1
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[21] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[22] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[23] 2
Oricon International Singles Chart 1
Oricon (Japanese) Singles Chart 11
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[24] 29
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[25] 4
South Africa (Springbok) [26] 1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 5
UK Singles (OCC)[28] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[29] 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[30] 1
US Cash Box Top 100 [31] 1
West Germany (Official German Charts)[32] 10

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1975) Rank
Australia [20] 7
Canada [33] 11
New Zealand [34] 34
South Africa [35] 10
UK [36] 28
US Billboard Hot 100 [37] 32
US Cash Box [38] 21

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[39] Gold 75,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[40] Silver 250,000^
United States (RIAA)[41] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Other versions[edit]

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. University of North Texas Libraries.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 379.
  3. ^ "Brian Holland". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on April 2, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  4. ^ Davis, Rachaell (September 22, 2016). "Why Is August 28 So Special To Black People? Ava DuVernay Reveals All In New NMAAHC Film". Essence.
  5. ^ "The Marvelettes Please Mr. Postman Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  6. ^ "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  7. ^ The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 1: 1959-1961 [liner notes]. New York: Hip-O Select/Motown/Universal Records
  8. ^ https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/obituary/8471293/eddie-willis-motown-funk-brothers-dead
  9. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 29 March 1962
  10. ^ "The Marvelettes Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  11. ^ Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - Please Mr. Postman The Marvelettes Chart History, Billboard.com. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  12. ^ "British single certifications – Marvelettes – Please Mr Postman". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  13. ^ "American single certifications – The Marvelettes – Please Mr. Postman". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 11, 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 67. ISBN 978-0898201888.
  16. ^ Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950–1981. Metuchen, New Jersey, and London: The Scarecrow Press. p. 34.
  17. ^ "Swedish Charts 1962–March 1966/Kvällstoppen – Listresultaten vecka för vecka > Juni 1964" (PDF) (in Swedish). hitsallertijden.nl. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 47.
  19. ^ "The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Song". ITV. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  20. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  21. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 3909." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  22. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3918a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  23. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Please Mr. Postman". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  24. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Carpenters – Please Mr. Postman" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  25. ^ "Charts.nz – Carpenters – Please Mr. Postman". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  27. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Carpenters – Please Mr. Postman". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  28. ^ "Carpenters: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  29. ^ "Carpenters Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  30. ^ "Carpenters Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  31. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 1/25/75". tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 2015-06-20. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  32. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Carpenters – Please Mr. Postman". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 11, 2018. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Carpenters"
  33. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  34. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart - NZ End Of Year Charts 1975".
  35. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1975". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  36. ^ "Britain's best selling records of '75". Record Mirror. London: Billboard. January 10, 1976. p. 12. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  37. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975". www.musicoutfitters.com.
  38. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1975". tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 2016-10-22. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  39. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Carpenters – Please Mr. Postman". Music Canada. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  40. ^ "British single certifications – Carpenters – Please Mr. Postman". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  41. ^ "American single certifications – The Carpenters – Please Mr. Postman". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 11, 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  42. ^ Billboard, May 5, 1962 - Page 18 Billboard Music Week Hits of the World, New Zealand
  43. ^ Ryan, Patrick (October 6, 2017). "5 things you didn't know about 'Feel It Still' crossovers Portugal. The Man". USA Today. Retrieved October 3, 2018.

External links[edit]