Please Mr. Postman

Album: Please Mr. Postman (1961)
Charted: 1
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  • When The Marvelettes auditioned for Motown, the label didn't have their full songwriting machinery in place, so they asked the girls to bring in material. William Garrett, a songwriter friend of group member Georgia Dobbins, offered this to The Marvelettes when she asked if he had anything for them to sing. He wrote it as a blues song, but Dobbins completely rewrote it (she saved only the title) and taught it to lead singer Gladys Horton. Before The Marvelettes recorded it, Dobbins left the group to care for her mother. Motown producers Robert Bateman and Brian Holland worked on the song with The Marvelettes and crafted it into a hit. Holland, along with his brother Eddie and Lamont Dozier, went on to write many other Motown classics.
  • Marvin Gaye played drums on this song. He was 22 at the time and trying to break into the business.
  • Part of this song was written by a postman who helped complete the lyrics. His name was Freddie Gorman and his mail route included Brewster public housing where members of The Supremes lived. Gorman also sang with the Motown group The Originals. He passed away in 2006. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Hal - Atlanta, GA
  • The Marvelettes were five teenage girls from Inkster, Michigan. This was their first single and their only #1. They went through many member changes before breaking up in 1969.
  • Waiting for a letter and other mail-related storylines were common in songs of this era, when the postal service provided a primary means of communication ("Return To Sender" was a hit for Elvis the following year). This song describes a woman awaiting a letter from her lover - something unlikely to happen in the internet age.
  • This was the first #1 hit for Motown Records. Motown soon flourished into a legendary label with hundreds of hits.
  • When they recorded this song, it was the first time The Marvelettes had ever been in a recording studio - their singing experience was in choirs and glee clubs. They got some help from Florence Ballard, who was a member of another Motown girl group, The Supremes. Ballard suggested they loosen up, stretch out the word "postman," and add "oh yeah" backing vocals. "We were all tight - petrified," Gladys Horton said. "Florence was a sweetheart, and what he said was dead on."
  • The Marvelettes' follow-up single "Twistin' Postman" (a #34 American hit) tried to capitalize on the dance craze and also continued the story of the woman who waits for a letter from her boyfriend. In the continuing story, the woman begins to lose hope on ever receiving a letter and then finally receives one. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA
  • This was #1 US hit for the Carpenters, who covered it on their 1975 album Horizon. Featuring Karen Carpenter on drums and a guitar solo by Tony Peluso, it was their biggest hit ever worldwide, reaching #1 in the US, Australia, Germany, Japan and several other countries, as well as reaching #2 in the UK and Canada. Richard Carpenter later said that he wished they never did the song, as by that stage of their career, they should not have been covering oldies.
  • The Beatles recorded this in 1963. Sung by John Lennon, they played it at many of their early concerts. The song was one of three Motown cuts, along with "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" and "Money (That's What I Want)" that The Beatles released on The Beatles' Second Album. Motown head Berry Gordy agreed to a lower rate for use of the songs, as he was thrilled to have The Beatles recording tracks from his roster.
  • The songwriting credits on this track are a bit murky. The copyright lists Georgia Dobbins, Brian Holland, Freddie Gorman and Robert Bateman, but the music publishing agencies (the ones who send the checks), list just Holland, Bateman and Gorman. William Garrett is listed as one of the writers in some publications.
  • The 2017 Portugal. The Man hit "Feel It Still" interpolates the vocal melody from this track, turning "Oh yes, wait a minute Mr. Postman" into "Ooh Ooh, I'm a rebel just for kicks, now."
  • Samuel L. Jackson sings some of this in the 2019 movie Captain Marvel in a scene where the titular superhero (played by Brie Larson) explains that her name is pronounced "Mar-Vell." In character as Nick Fury, Jackson suggests "Marvel," like The Marvelettes. When she has no idea what he's talking about, he sings "Please Mr. Postman" to provide a guidepost. So, in this universe The Marvelettes helped name Captain Marvel.
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Comments: 19

  • Cassie Hamilton from HereThe only people who believe that The Beatles' version of "Mr. Postman" is better than The Marvelettes' version, are people who have no sense of, no appreciation for, true soulful singing. I, on the other hand, have no appreciation for vanilla singing or singers. Beatles were crud.
  • Moanin' Lisa from Chillicothe Mo."Please Mr. Postman" was great to dance to back in '61-'62. I loved that Marvelettes sound. That arrangement with the drums & the choppy piano made it very danceable. Me & my girls in high school loved doing the Mashed Potatoes to it. A few months later, in spring '62, Cameo-Parkway Records released Dee Dee Sharp's 1st hit, "Mashed Potato Time" which sounded similar to "Postman." It went to #1 on the R&B charts and #2 on the Pop Charts. I bought both records back then. My 45 rpm single of "Mashed Potato Time" credits the songwriting to "Sheldon/Brianbert." And the publisher was Jobete Music, which was an organization related to Motown Records. Interesting. Was the Cameo-Parkway single really another version of the Marvelettes' single? I don't know. But both records were multi-million sellers.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 7th 1962, the Beatles appeared on the BBC radio show 'Teenager's Turn - Here We Go' “at the Playhouse Theatre in Manchester...
    It was first full live performance by the 'Fab Four' that was recorded on tape....
    Their final song in their set was a covered version of "Please Mister Postman"; three months earlier on December 11th, 1961 the original version of the song by the Marvelettes peaked at #1 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    The Beatles' studio recorded cover version would first appear on their second UK album, 'With the Beatles'.
  • Jake from Birmingham, AlKaren and Richard Carpenter couldn't pronounce a hard "Ch" sound. Listen to Karen sing "Sheck and see" in their version on YouTube ! Just a little trivia.
  • Veve from Lorain, OhI agree with you Ben!
  • John from Eugene, Or'Please Mr Postman' came out on Tamla records, not Motown. There is an uncanny resemblance between the piano work and the sound of the piano in this song and 'Mash Potato Time' by Dee Dee Sharp. Just as there is a connection between the musicians who played on Tamla/Motown recordings and Jackie Wilson (Lonely Teardrops) on Brunswick records then perhaps there is also a connection between this and the Cameo recording. Georgeanna Dobbins died of sickle cell anemia in 1980. The Beatles clearly loved R & B and made Berry Gordy Jr a ton of money. I would have loved to have heard The Marveletts record "Baby Love". The production credits for 'Please Mr Postman' were attributed to Brianbert which stood for Brian Holland and Robert Bateman. To Kenneth in Cleveland: I have Dobbins,Horton,Young, Anderson and Cowart (Maiden name?)
  • Laquan from Birmingham, AlI think both versions are classics
  • Jake from New Haven, CtAnyone who says Beatles did it better is crazy. Beatles version is way too pop and lacks soul and fire. And those who said Beatles made it well known. It was a #1 pop & r&b song, how much bigger can you get than that? It was a mega hit when Beatles covered it.
  • John from Nashville, Tn"Please Mr. Postman" was the fourth song to hit #1 on the pop charts twice (the Marvelettes in 1961 and the Carpenters in 1975). The three previous songs to achieve this feat were "The Twist" (Chubby Checker in 1960 and 1962); "Go Away Little Girl" (Steve Lawrence--1963, and Donny Osmond--1971), and "The Locomotion" (Little Eva--1962, and Grand Funk Railroad--1974). Songs that achieved this feat after "Postman" were "You Keep Me Hanging On" (the Supremes--1966 and Kim Wilde--1987); "Lean on Me" (Bill Withers--1972, and Club Neuveau--1987); "Venus" (Shocking Blue--1970, and Bananarama--1988); "Killing Me Softly With His Song" (Roberta Flack--1973, and the Fugees--1996); and "Lady Marmalade" (Labelle--1975, and Pink, Chiristina Aguillera, Lil Kim and Monica--2001).
  • Wayne from Salem, VaAnother early 60's black girl group hit. The Marvelettes did a fine job. But The Beatles version is much,much better. John Lennon who sings lead would've probably denied this. Since The Beatles loved this music so much. But it is true. They do this song like as though it was their very own. They rock it! Was on "With The Beatles" in the UK. And "The Beatles Second Album" in the U.S.
  • Kenneth from Cleveland, Oh Love this song.Yes the original.The Marvelletes really did not go through that many personnel changes.It's just that when a member would leave they wouldn't replace her at all.But only five momen were members on their hits.Dobbins,Horton,Young,Anderson and Tillman.I firs theard it on the PBS show Zoom!
  • Ivan from Dallas, TxThe Carpenters were big in Hong Kong back in the 70's. This song was very popular after "Yesterday Once More", and shot to #1 on the local charts. I like the guitar solo at the end and the rhythm section.
  • Paul from Redditch, EnglandAgree. The Beatles version is quality.
  • Ben from Cheverly, MdThe Beatles version is so much better, come on admit it!
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesDee Dee Sharp's "Mashed Potato Time" used the same melody (and also shared a few lines)as "Please Mister Postman". Cameo-Parkway lyricist Kal Mann shared credit with Motown's songwriters to avoid a certain lawsuit.
  • Ali from Islamabad, Pakistani like the version by the carpenters more than the original
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScThe Beatles' version rocks!
  • Jerro from New Alexandria, PaI don't know about anyone else in this world, but in my opinion, the lead singer of this song sounded like she had a frog in her throat throughout the entire recording and couldn't get it out!
  • Maddie from Yakima, WaAlso done by The Carpenters in the 70's.
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