Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

Return To Sender: A “No Mail On Saturday” Playlist

You've got mail.

You’ve got mail.

It was announced earlier this week that the U.S. Postal Service will be eliminating Saturday mail delivery this August (though packages aren’t affected to be this decision.) There’s been mixed reaction to the announcement, but it appears that it won’t be reversed – for now, at least. While you’re counting down the days until the six-day delivery system goes away, here are six of my favorite songs about the postal service, writing letters and more from the past fifty or so years. Hopefully, you can cope with this playlist from the P.O. box of pop music.

Stevie B made a name for himself on the freestyle circuit, charting for several years on the Hot 100 with minor entries that also hit the Dance Chart. Then, in 1990, the singer released this big ballad which became his signature song, spending four weeks at the top of the chart. Too bad the postman couldn’t answer his request for additional singles with that kind of chart presence. After some weaker top-40 hits, he was off the scene by 1995.

Here’s one of two songs on the list that made the national charts three times. Back in 1961, a trio out of Michigan named The Marvelettes took the song to #1 for one week in December 1961. It was the first number-one record for the fledgling Tamla Records, a subsidiary label of Motown. They followed it with “Twistin’ Postman” the next year, but it just scratched the top 40. Then, in 1974, duo the Carpenters recorded their version of the tune, and it also went to #1 for one week in January 1975. It would be the last time the graced the top of the Hot 100. “Postman” last made the Hot 100 in a version by R&B trio Gentle Persuasion, which went to #82 in 1983. It essentially came off as a second-rate version of The Pointer Sisters and became their only charting single.

Written by Paul McCartney, this one made the charts just about a month after The Beatles claimed the top five singles in the nation in late March 1964. Originally the b-side of their #1 single, “Love Me Do”, it went to #10 on the Hot 100 in 1964, an unexpectedly high charting for the flip side of a record, but it is Fab Four we’re talking about. The band also covered other mail-themed songs like the aforementioned “Please Mr. Postman” and Buddy Holly‘s “Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues”.

It’s another classic song from Tamla Records, originally recorded by the great Stevie Wonder. The song became his first top ten hit of the 70’s, going to #3 on the Hot 100. “Signed” also went as high as #18 in a remake by Peter Frampton in 1977. I personally really like his version, though I know many people who don’t. It was Frampton’s second-to-last top-40 hit.

I’m not a huge fan in general of this next group on the list, but this is probably my favorite song from The Brothers Johnson, who remade a 1971 album track by Johnny Otis and turned it into a #5 hit on the Hot 100 in 1977. Plus, I hear the vinyl single pressings had a strawberry scent to them. Sweet. A remake with an added rap break by young R&B singer Tevin Campbell peaked at #53 on the Hot 100 in 1992, though it hit the top 40 in CHR airplay.

Having a number-one hit with your debut single seems to be a common thread amongst many of the acts in this post like Stevie Wonder, The Beatles and The Marvelettes. Well, The Box Tops did it too, with a #1 for four weeks on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1967. It was remade by soft-rock quartet The Arbors, peaking at #20 in 1969. Lastly, a version by Joe Cocker went to #7 in 1970. It was co-produced by Leon Russell.

Other post-worthy odes to the postal service since the 60’s:
“A Letter To Myself”, The Chi-Lites (1973)
“Amsterdam (Gonna Write You A Letter)”, Guster (2003)
“Another Postcard (Chimps)”, Barenaked Ladies (2003)
“In Your Letter”, REO Speedwagon (1981)
“Rock And Roll Love Letter”, The Bay City Rollers (1976)
“Take A Letter Maria”, R.B. Greaves (1969)

Can’t forget about the one in the title… “Return To Sender” by Elvis Presley. It hit #2 on the Hot 100 in 1962.

Have another song you’d like to add that got lost in transit? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Playlists