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Sunday, November 19, 2017

PLEASE MR. POSTMAN


My posting on 9 November 2017 indicated that some day in the future I would report on who recorded Please Mr. Postman first:  The Beatles or The Marvelettes.  This was a memorable period of my life, for I was getting to be a senior at Stanford and in mid-1962 moved on to my first real job, with the sugar industry in Naalehu on the Big Island of Hawaii, where not only was there no television, but also no radio reception.  Got married and suffered through Army basic training.  These transition periods result in memorable songs.  

There were various girl groups/singers those days hitting #1 on the Billboard Top 100:  The Shirelles with Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Connie Francis / Where the Boys Are (click on THIS to get a flavor of youth immaturity, which could have led to my demise), Sue Thompson / Sad Movies, Dee Dee Sharp / Mash Potato Time, Shelley Fabares / Johnny Angel, Little Eva / The Loco-Motion, Joanie Sommers / Johnny Get Angry and Chiffons / He's So Fine.

Please Mr. Postman thus came in this frenetic year which established my life.  Written by Georgia Dobbins (borrowed an unfinished blues composition of William Garret and, never having any songwriting experience, reshaped it overnight to reflect doo-wop), Freddie Gorman (who, interestingly enough, actually worked as a U.S. Postman), Brian Holland and Robert Bateman, this classic, released by the Marvelettes in 1961 when they were 15 year old high school students in a suburb of Detroit, was the first Motown song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.   Marvin Gaye played drums on this recording.
The company has had 57 reaching the top, and the final one was twenty years ago. However, in 2008, the latest version of this company released Motown's No. 1 Hits in a box set to celebrate their 50th anniversary.  The announcement indicated that 191 tracks reached #1, plus an additional 10 cover tracks.  There are three new sets left, each for $800 from Amazon.  Motown is synonymous with Detroit, where it was first formed in 1959, but moved to Las Angeles in 1972.

The Marvelettes kept changing, but the original had Gladys Horton (as lead singer), Georgeanne Tillman, Georgia Dobbins, Wanda Young, Wyanetta (Juanita) Coward and Katherine Anderson:


They first called themselves the Casinyets, mostly because they were just beginning and agreed they can't sing yet.  Dobbins, who helped write that song, had to quit because her father forbade her to sing in night clubs. The Marvelettes even lost their name because a New York businessman, Larry Marshak, was first to register it, and promoted other groups touring as The Marvelettes.  The originals had other problems anyway, like drugs, sickness and mental breakdown.  As a result, they have yet to make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Tillman married Billy Gordon of The Contours, while Young married Bobby Rogers of The Miracles.

What makes Please Mr. Postman particularly notable is because the Beatles recorded it in 1963.  Interesting story on why they chose this song, and note that they were not the first.

However, The Carpenters' cover reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975.  It has been reported that nine songs have this distinction.  My favorite is Venus, with Shocking Blue (Dutch band) in 1970 and Bananarama (British female trio) in 1986.  Why I can't imagine.

So anyway, I get religious or nostalgic on Sunday.  So to further extol the virtues of living in Purgatory, here is a rainbow scene from the Ala Wai Golf Course on Friday, plus, turning around 180 degrees, a scene in the Waikiki direction:


I took a bath, and it was dark, so I chose to dine indoors on Japanese Wagyu Beef and Otoro Maguro (ahi or yellow-fin tuna) Sashimi, with an assortment of mushrooms:


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