Take a Letter Maria

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"Take a Letter Maria"
Single by R. B. Greaves
from the album R. B. Greaves
B-side "Run Diane"
Released September 1969
Format 7" single
Genre Soul
Length 2:44
Label Atco/Atlantic
Songwriter(s) R.B. Greaves
Producer(s) Ahmet Ertegun
R. B. Greaves singles chronology
"Take a Letter Maria"
"Always Something There to Remind Me"
"Take a Letter Maria"
"Always Something There to Remind Me"

"Take a Letter Maria" is a song written and recorded by R. B. Greaves, an American soul singer. The song has a Latin music flavor, complete with a mariachi-style horn section featuring trumpets. It tells of a man who has learned of his wife's infidelity the night before, and dictates a letter of separation to Maria, his secretary, whom he asks out for dinner later in the song in order to "start a new life." The song was released in September 1969, quickly gaining regular airplay [1] peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.[2] The single was certified gold in December 1969, with one million copies shipped.[3] By 1970, sales of the song totalled 2.5 million.[4]

The song was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio on August 19, 1969, using the house studio musicians. These include Donna Jean Thatcher, vocals (later Donna Jean Godchaux of the Grateful Dead), Roger Hawkins, drums, Barry Beckett, electric piano, Eddie Hinton and Jimmy Johnson, guitars, David Hood, bass, and Mel Lastie, trumpet. [5]

In 1994, the song was featured in the soundtrack of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Cover versions[edit]

"Take a Letter Maria" has had two charted cover versions by country music singers. Anthony Armstrong Jones released a cover in 1970 from his album of the same name, reaching number 8 on the country charts with it. In 1999, Doug Stone released the song from his album Make Up in Love, reaching number 45 on the country single charts.[6]

The New Riders of the Purple Sage included a cover of the song on their 1975 album Oh, What a Mighty Time.

The alt-country supergroup The Pleasure Barons included a high-energy cover of the song on their Live in Las Vegas CD, with vocals by Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers.

Gary Puckett also included a cover of it on his Greatest Hits CD in 1986.

Country music singer Sammy Kershaw recorded a version for his 2015 album I Won't Back Down.


  1. ^ "06 October 1969 WLS 890 Hit Parade". Retrieved 2012-10-02. 
  2. ^ "Singles chart listings for R.B. Greaves". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  3. ^ "RIAA search results for R.B. Greaves". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  4. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 259. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  5. ^ The Muscle Shoals Sound CD liner notes: Rhino Records, 1993
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Make Up in Love review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 

External links[edit]