Once upon a time, there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no smartphones, no laptops, no internet, no computers, no typewriters, no people...wait, that's too far back in time! Long-distance personal communication through the written word is about as timeless as communication itself. Perhaps the strong connection we have to such communication is what makes love letters so special and junk mail so annoying.
The world of mail is so full of chain letters, letters of resignation, pen pals, stamp collectors, and so on, we just have to do a list of the Top Ten Mail Songs. Neither snow nor rain nor heat no gloom of night can keep us from this appointed round!
As always the songs are organized by how well each has done on the various charts, although this time we slightly bend that rule on this list. I'll say it again: If you don't see your favorite (and that's bound to happen, by the sheer number of great mail songs,) be sure to leave a comment. Who knows, your letter could be the next entry!
So let's not waste time licking stamps and dropping letters. Let's go! Oh, and we promise there's nothing liquid, fragile, perishable or hazardous within this list. So let's go!
10. P.S. I Love You
This early Beatles tune is 100% mail-related. Come to think, they had another song that could arguably occupy this spot, but I argue that "From Me to You" is only 70% mail-related. And for that matter, "Paperback Writer", while in letter form, is merely 40% mail-related. (Note: if you want a detailed argument, send us a letter about it.) "P.S. I Love You" reached #10 in the US in 1962.
I'll be coming home again to you, love
Until the day I do, love
P.S. I love you
You, you, you
9. Love Letters
Born Revoyda Frierson, Ketty Lester is best known for this hit song which, like the previous song, was released in 1962. It's a brilliant, slow-burning ballad, and it was recorded by many before her (Dick Haymes, Nat King Cole) and after her (Elvis Presley, Diana Krall). It reached the Top 5 of the charts in both the United States (#5) and the United Kingdom (#4).
Love letters straight from your heart
Keep us so near while apart
I'm not alone in the night
When I can have all the love you write
8. A Dear John Letter
Some of you might listen to this and say, "This is country!" But you know what? Once upon a time, music was music was music. In other words, if it was good, people bought it. The late Ferlin Husky performed the sad recitation of a Korean soldier, while the tune was sung by Jean Shepard. It was the first post-World War II record by a woman country artist to sell more than a million copies. It reached #4 in the US in 1953. It's a heart breaker, for sure.
Dear John, Oh, how I hate to write
Dear John, I must let you know tonight
That my love for you has died away like grass upon the lawn
And tonight I wed another, Dear John.
7. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
This is a classic number written by Fred E. Ahlert and Joe Young, and was originally made a hit by pianist Fats Waller in 1935. In 1957, Billy Williams had a #3 US hit with the song. The record sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Sadly, he later lost his voice due to complications from diabetes. But he sure sounded good (and still sounds good) on this record!
I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter
And make believe it came from you
I'm gonna write words oh so sweet
They're gonna knock me off my feet
A lotta kisses on the bottom
I'll be glad I got 'em
6. Sealed With a Kiss
Brian Hyland had his second-biggest hit with this song, a plaintive goodbye song that gets better with age. It was also recorded by Bobby Vinton and Gary Lewis and the Playboys, but none charted quite as high (on the charts of the day and on the hearts of the day) as Hyland's. By the way, his biggest hit was "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini". But that's another list, another day. "Sealed With a Kiss" charted at #3 in both the US and the UK in 1962, which apparently was a boom year for letter-writing.
Though we've got to say good-bye
For the summer
Darling, I promise you this
I'll send you all my love
Everyday in a letter
Sealed with a kiss
5. Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)
It's time for a little bit of soul. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" was the first single Stevie Wonder produced on his own. And the rest, they say, is musical history. It was also Wonder's first Grammy nominated song. And interestingly, the song title came from Stevie's mother Lula, who exclaimed the words after listening to her son working on the song's melody. It reached #3 in the US in 1970.
Like a fool I went and stayed too long
Now I'm wondering if your love's still strong
Ooh, baby, here I am,
Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours!
4. Take a Letter Maria
I used to think this song was sung by Sam Cooke. Turns out I was wrong. But it turns out that R.B. Greaves is Sam Cooke's nephew. So I guess that makes up for it. But make no mistake that R.B. was talented in his own right. He wrote this song, and it was recorded by Stevie Wonder and Tom Jones before he recorded it himself in 1969. By 1970, sales of his version of "Take a Letter Maria" were over 2.5 million. No letter-writing campaign was required.
Take a letter Maria
Address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer
Got to start a new life
3. Return to Sender
Classic, despite the fact that Elvis recorded this for the film Girls! Girls! Girls! Sorry, I don't mean any offense by saying it's "classic, despite". Even Elvis himself knew his movies were by no means stellar. Anyway, this song is definitely of its era. What exactly is a zone? Is it like The Twilight Zone? Because I used to like that show. Either way, a great song with great singing by Elvis and great saxophone playing by Boots Randolph, it reached #2 in the US and #1 in the UK in 1962 (a good year for the mail).
Return to sender,
No such number,
No such zone.
2. The Letter
Do you believe that Alex Chilton was only 16 years old when he originally sang "The Letter"? Or that his voice didn't normally sound like that? I'm sure you did, but I didn't. Chilton and the Box Tops recorded this in 1967, and it became a #1 hit in the US and a #5 in the UK. But it also charted high in many countries the world over. Plus, it's just likely the most awesome letter-related song there is. Well, almost, since it does sit at #2 on this list.
Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane,
Ain't got time to take a fast train,
Lonely days are gone,
I'm-a goin' home,
My baby just-a wrote me a letter
And now, as we come to the end of this love letter to songs about the mail, it's time to reveal the number one mail song. If you don't agree, then you can treat me like a mailman and give me the sack. Get it? Give me the...oh, I know, that's corny. The top mail song is...!
1. Please Mr. Postman
But of course! "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes was the first #1 US hit for Tamla/Motown Records, which paved the way for future R&B acts of the 1960s and beyond. It also reached #2 in the UK.
That's all we have to say about that. Unless you want to hear a joke:
Two mailmen were ending their routes for the day when one of them saw the other stomp on a snail. "Why on earth did you step on that snail?" asked his co-worker. "'Cause that same snail has been following me all day!"
Yeah. I shouldn't quit my day job.
Wait! Oh yes, wait a minute, Mister Postman
Wait! Wait, Mister Postman
Please, Mister Postman, look and see
Is there’s a letter in your bag for me
Cause it’s been a mighty long time
Since I`ve heard from this boyfriend of mine
And just for fun, here's an honorable P.S. that was a #3 hit in 1963 for Allan Sherman...
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah
Do you agree with this list? Have any suggestions for honorable mentions? I can think of a few myself, but I want you to decide.
Check out all of the lists here at Rock The Jukebox:
- The Top Ten Blue Songs
- The Top Ten Rain Songs
- The Top Ten Dream Songs
- The Top Ten Sun Songs
- The Top Ten Moon Songs
- The Top Ten Girl Name Songs
- The (Next) Top Ten Girl Name Songs
- The Top Ten Walking Songs
And stay tuned for our next list: The Top Ten Lonely Songs!