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The Postman Rings Twice For The Carpenters

Thirteen years after the Marvelettes’ original, Richard and Karen Carpenter’s cover of ‘Please Mr. Postman’ became their third US No. 1.

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Carpenters Please Mr. Postman

When The Marvelettes charted with the original ‘Please Mr. Postman,’ it was the Hot 100 era of Bobby Vee, Barry Mann and Lonnie Donegan. When the Carpenters’ skilled cover of the Motown tune joined the bestsellers in November 1974, Billy Swan was telling us he could help, the Three Degrees were wondering when they would see you again and Carl Douglas was practicing his kung fu. On 25 January, the duo’s remake was sitting pretty atop the Billboard chart.

In late 1961, ‘Postman’ made history by becoming the first pop No. 1 on a Motown label. The crossover audience it reached included Richard Carpenter, who was 15 as it became a hit, and his sister Karen, who was still only 11. Then, 13 years after the original, the siblings’ interpretation entered the Billboard chart and swiftly became not only their 11th US top ten single, but their third and final No. 1.

The Carpenters had often added deft covers to their own distinguished song collection, as when they had remade The Beatles’ ‘Ticket To Ride’ as their very first single. They also did Ruby and the Romantics’ ‘Hurting Each Other,’ Leon Russell’s ‘Superstar’ and even made the ‘Sesame Street’ children’s favourite ‘Sing’ their own. They would also interpret Neil Sedaka’s ‘Solitaire’ on the same Horizon album that contained ‘Postman’ and, later, ‘There’s A Kind Of Hush,’ the Geoff Stephens/Les Reed composition first made famous by Herman’s Hermits.

Richard and Karen’s Motown remake entered the US pop chart at No. 77. Nine weeks later, it unseated Barry Manilow’s ‘Mandy’ to hit the summit for a week, becoming the third song of the pop era to hit No. 1 in two different versions. The others: ‘Go Away Little Girl’ by both Steve Lawrence and Donny Osmond, and ‘The Loco-motion’ by Little Eva and Grand Funk.

‘Please Mr. Postman’ is on the Carpenters’ Horizon album, which can be bought here.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. chuck brinkman

    January 26, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    As a lifetime fan who worked in New Haven (WELI) and programmed in Dallas (KLUV) any Carpenters info would be appreciated!!!

  2. Abhaya mani Dixit

    January 27, 2015 at 1:38 am

    Its great pleasure to listen Carpenters a very sweet voice. Please Mr. Postman i only heard of the Beatles singing, I used to bought the cassette of singers who sang the songs of the beatles, once.
    Lovely voice, very sad to know of Caren’s death.
    Like wise so many great singers are away with us. i enjoy listing them at sorrows and happiness.. hopefully which I love must be the Evergreens.
    With best wishes .
    Abhaya Mani Dixit

  3. Penny Sullivan

    January 28, 2015 at 6:06 am

    Karen and Richard can sing anything and I would love it! We can only now listen to Karen’s records to live that time again. Wish she was here and singing again. Thank You Karen and Richard for sharing your gifts to us.

  4. leslie jefferson

    February 28, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Karen carpenter had one of the loveliest,purest voice I have ever heard.i wept real tears at the news of her death.she was so young and could have done so much more,making more wonderful music. as I listen now to that pure voice,i still have a lump in my throat. her death was so needless,and tragic..

    • Ana Hering

      November 24, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      I agree with Leslie… The Carpenters sang me through my teenage years, first love, and I feel quite previleged to have had them “by my side” at all times. Till today, I do feel teary whenever I listen to Karen, especially the older songs like “You” and “I need to be in love”. Her voice was simply unique. <3

  5. George Smith

    November 24, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Although it’s true that “Please Mr. Postman” was the Carpenters’ third and final No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, that was hardly the only important chart at the time. The Carpenters also had three other No. 1 hits — “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Superstar,” “Hurting Each Other,” and “Yesterday Once More” — on the other charts tracking rock and pop music, Record World and Cash Box. So the Carpenters actually had seven No. 1 hits on the mainstream charts for pop and rock. And, of course, they had FIFTEEN No. 1 hits on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart, which basically covered “non-rock” pop and easy listening music.

  6. Sailingsam

    November 24, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Please Mr. Postman was the first 45 “single” I ever bought when I was a kid…!

  7. SAM Miller

    January 27, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    I had been very lucky many many years ago to go to Philadelphia to hear The Carpenter’s in person. It was a great show. I was devastated when I heard that Karen had passed away. Later in life I moved to South Florida where we have a Cultural Center in town and last year they had a musical show where they performed The Carpenter’s music. It was great. We also have a lot of the Carpenter’s music on CD’s. Still love hearing their music on the radio. Some of the greatest songs ever!

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