Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Please Mister Postman the Marvelettes, Beatles, Mel Blanc, George and Gracie

Please Mister Postman
the Marvelettes, the Beatles,
Mel Blanc, George and Gracie

There must be some word today
From my boyfriend so far away
Please Mister Postman, look and see
If there's a letter, a letter for me ....

The song came out long before email and internet, conference video calling such
Mel Blanc 1976
as Skype. Then the only ones who did that kind of thing were pretty much The Jetsons.

May 30, 1908 is the anniversary of Mel Blanc's birth. He's a famous voice actor and comedian who worked at Warner Brothers. He provided many character voices, including those for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn.

He had his own show and was a cast member on some early radio shows including the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show in the 1940s where he played the Happy Postman. Early in the episode, Gracie would answer the door. "Hello, Mr. Postman!" I often think of the song when I hear her greet him.

Blanc was a popular guest on other TV and radio shows. He is great on the Jack Benny Christmas special episodes.

What is the background of Please Mr. Postman? Who are some of the artists who've sung it? August 21, 1961, The Marvelettes released a single of Please Mr. Postman. Their album of the same name came out on November 20, 1961.

I've been standin' here waitin' Mister Postman
So patiently
For just a card, or just a letter
Sayin' he's returnin' home to me...

December 6, 1961 they released Twistin' Postman to follow up the success the group had with Please Mr. Postman and to take advantage of Chubby Checker's The Twist dance craze.

November 30, 1963, The Beatles released their LP, With the Beatles. This included their version of Please Mister Postman. 

Another Beatles hit that was along letter writing lines was P.S. I Love You, written by Paul McCartney. An early single, its B side was Love Me Do. It was included on their 1963 LP Please Please Me.

The album also included Till There Was You by Meredith Willson, a song some might recognize from the musical The Music Man.

Meredith Willson was bandleader and a regular character actor on Burns and Allen radio show during World War II. He wrote the song for his 1957 musical play The Music Man. It also appeared in the 1962 movie version with Shirley Jones, Robert Preston and a young Ron Howard.

A few of us had an event where we were using sealing wax on cards and letters. The latest I can recall hearing, from artsy friends and those sending out wedding invitations using sealing wax is that there have been some problems. I'd be interested to hear your experiences.

What people do now is hand deliver the cards to one another. You can also use it to adorn a piece of art or create a certificate, an award. Sending it through the mail may risk ruining your masterpiece or jamming a machine.

On one show, because of the postwar housing shortage, Gracie decides to take in a veteran and his family. Meredith Willson wants to start a vaudeville act with George. 
So many days you passed me by
See the tears standin' in my eyes
You didn't stop to make me feel better
By leavin' me a card or a letter ....

November 8, 1974 The Carpenters released their single, Please Mr. Postman. The flip side was This Masquerade.  

This Masquerade was written by Leon Russell. His version is part of the soundtrack for director William Friedkin's 2006 psychological thriller film Bug. It also appeared in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness.

Both songs were hits for The Carpenters but Please Mr. Postman was one of their biggest hits ever worldwide. Their official music video was shot at Disneyworld and includes appearances by Disney characters.

Later I'll talk more about it, but recently we watched a documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom. The documentary pays homage to the backup singers who do not get the recognition they deserve. I adore backup singers, they add so much to the sound and the entire show. 

The program includes "Darlene Love, the uncredited lead voice on some of Phil Spector's most memorable productions of the 1960s." Also you'll enjoy Lisa Fischer and Merry Clayton. Some amazing singing on this documentary. It's available to stream or get on DVD. 
Karen and Richard Carpenter in Studio

The show spoke primarily about female backup singers. Gladys Knight's famous Pips weren't included as I recall. Sting, Bette Midler and Mick Jagger are interviewed. The show sparked a lively discussion amongst friends as to whether Dawn (Telma Hopkins, Joyce Vincent) started out as backup singers for Tony Orlando. Telma Hopkins went on to a favorite 1980s show, Bosom Buddies.

In February 2013 it was announced that the USPS would stop mail deliveries on Saturdays beginning in August. On April 10, 2014 the United States Post Office backed off on stopping Saturday mail deliveries. Apparently Congress would not allow the change. There is still a possibility that we may lose our Saturday mail deliveries.
So Mister postman look and see
Is there a letter in your bag for me
I been waiting a long long time
Since I heard from that boyfriend of mine...

Related Pages of Interest:

She fell for The Leader of the Pack in 1964, Dramatic song performance The Shangri-Las' Number One hit

Paul Henreid Directs Bette Davis Ray Charles and Alfred Hitchcock?

Did Bette Davis teach Paul Henreid to light 2 cigarettes at once or did Gracie Allen

Mel Blanc photo flickr image used under Creative Commons from Mblumber
Excerpts from Please Mr. Postman throughout (Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Brian Holland and Robert Bateman are usually shown as the song's writers. As with many hit songs, the song gets reworked.)

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