Feb 172012

I just heard a brief report on the news that the US Postal Service is considering raising its regular letter rate to 50 cents and discontinuing Saturday deliveries, among other cost-cutting moves, to stem an estimated annual loss of about $18 billion per year by 2015. In honor of the rapidly diminishing old-time practice of sending and receiving physical letters through the mail, I declare a Last Man Standing on songs centered around the practice of sending and receiving letters, including the practice of mail delivery. A mere reference to a letter is not enough; the postal service and its deliverables must be central to the song.

I’ll kick it off with one of my favorite childhood rockers, “The Letter”!


  113 Responses to “Last Man Standing: Going Postal!”

  1. tonyola

    Too easy so far – the Marvelettes and “Please Mr. Postman”.

  2. cherguevara

    Richard Thompson – Tear Stained Letter.

  3. tonyola

    Buddy Holly – “Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues”.

  4. The Velvet Underground, “The Gift.”

  5. ladymisskirroyale

    One of my favorites: Aztec Camera’s “We Could Send Letters.”


    Here’s an early version, a bit more rockin’ and with organ.

  6. The King, “Return to Sender”


  7. Take a Letter Maria – Nixon’s Head

  8. Brian Hyland – “Sealed With a Kiss”

  9. Mississippi Fred McDowell, “Write Me a Few Lines” (at least I assume he’s requesting his woman write him a letter, not a song or poem).

  10. hrrundivbakshi

    “Roll Over Beethoven,” wherein the singer will write a little letter and mail it to his local deejay.

  11. OK, the letter plays an essential enough role in the song. The judges accept that entry. Thanks.

  12. cherguevara

    Here’s this happy song called “The Postcard,” by Stephen Duffy.


  13. tonyola

    “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter”. Perhaps best known by Billy Williams and Nat King Cole. Sir Paul has recently recorded it too – that’s where the title phrase “Kisses on the Bottom” comes from.

  14. P.S. I love you by the Beatles

  15. tonyola

    King Crimson – “The Letters”

  16. Allen Sherman – “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”

  17. REO Speedwagon – In Your Letter

  18. alexmagic

    I haven’t done the “if this was a Battle Royal I’d win with this one” bit in a while, so…if this was a Battle Royal, I’d win with this one:

    Public Enemy, Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos

  19. Tony Orlando – Tie a Yellow Ribbon

    (Do you realize that this sweet song is about a guy getting out of PRISON??

    My wife says she realized it, until I pointed it out recently. Great opening line! “I’m coming home, I’ve done my time…”

    When is the LMS about best songs associated with prison/jail?…)

  20. I used to think that but couldn’t he also be referring to a stint in the military as well?

  21. Billy Don’t be a Hero – Bo Donaldson and the Haywoods.

  22. Two things make me think prison:

    “…If you received my letter tellin’ you I’d soon be free…”

    But also:

    “…I’m really still in prison, and my love she holds the key…”

  23. Hmmm… I guess you might be onto something with the last line.

  24. alexmagic

    He specifically mentions still metaphorically being in prison while he waits to find out if the ribbon is there, so the implication is that he was in literal jail when he wrote the letters, as opposed to the more common yellow ribbon->military service thing of today.

    The question is: what was he in jail for? The only real clue in the song is that he did three years. We can also assume he would have started his jail time around 1969.

  25. mockcarr

    The Letter – Box Tops

  26. Check out wikipedia – Pete Hamill sued the songwriters over this! He lost, but seems pretty clear it is about an ex-con rather than military:


  27. alexmagic

    Update: I now choose to believe the narrating character in the song was involved in the Manson Family murders.

  28. I think he was in for draft dodging. I know there is a military angle to this, I just know it!

  29. Bronzed Nordic God

    Does UPS count? Does a complete shill job count?

    George Thorogood: Brown to the Bone.


  30. “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan… the chorus tells Rikki to “send it off in a letter to yourself.”…

  31. cherguevara

    R.E.M. – letter never sent

  32. Replacements “Can’t Hardly Wait”
    “write you a letter tomorrow / tonight I can’t hold a pen”

  33. Box Full of Letters — Wilco

  34. Hey, that’s what I was thinking to myself when I posted “The Gift,” but so far I’ll grant you the belt. You’ve gotta give up for rms’ earlier entry, too, for pure RTH weirdness.

  35. Love it! Good one.

  36. We should schedule that one next week!

  37. Yo, that was my opening salvo! All will be forgiven next time you make me laugh.

  38. I’m glad you asked – and I’m glad you cited that particular song. The answer is NO. UPS, FedEx, e-mails, and all other threats to the USPS are disqualified. I trust our Townspeople overseas will only suggest songs about their nations’ old-school, national postal services. Thank you.

  39. I’ve had that song in my head all day yet didn’t think to make that connection. Damn!

  40. In “Mr. Lonely” by Bobby Vinton, he sings about never getting any letters in the mail.

  41. Bronzed Nordic God

    Per Mod’s ruling, I guess Five American’s Western Union doesn’t count either. I’ll play Son House’s Death Letter then.

  42. cherguevara

    Shoes – Writing A Postcard


  43. ladymisskirroyale

    Then there’s Tricky’s version: “Black Steel.”

  44. ladymisskirroyale

    PJ Harvey – “The Letter.”

  45. Letter to a Fanzine – Great Plains

  46. Dear God . .XTC
    Hope you got the letter, and… I pray you can make it better down here.

  47. tonyola

    Bonzo Dog Band – “Postcard”

  48. cherguevara

    David Bowie – Letter To Hermoine

  49. Bronzed Nordic God

    Merle Haggard – Soldier’s Last Letter

  50. Elvis – “Love Letters”

  51. cherguevara

    circle jerks – junk mail

  52. Dear Eloise – Hollies

  53. tonyola

    Pretty Things – “The Letter”

  54. Bronzed Nordic God

    Dead Kennedy’s – Stealing People’s Mail

  55. More Replacements “You want me to send a letter or a note / I wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-won’t”.
    I think there is another one, too. Dude had a problem with written communications.

  56. ladymisskirroyale

    Strawberry Letter 23: I grew up with the Brothers Johnson version but Shugie Otis’ is nice, too.

  57. How about “Girl Don’t Tell Me” by the Beach Boys…

    After not returning his letters… “Girl don’t tell me you’ll write me again this time”….

  58. ladymisskirroyale


    This has a nice old-fashioned sound but the lyrics are more contemporary.
    Jens Lekman – A Postcard For Nina

  59. Neil Young – Powderfinger
    “I think you better call John ’cause it don’t look like they’re here to deliver the mail.”

  60. Great entry, great song!

  61. tonyola

    The Who – “Postcard”

  62. The New Pornographers, “Letter to an Occupant.”

  63. My Old School by Steely Dan. “I tried to warn you about Chino and Daddy G, but I can’t seem to get to you through the US mail.”

  64. “D’yer Mak’er” by Led Zep…

    “when I read the letter you wrote me it made me mad mad mad…”

    I AM last man standing (for now)….

  65. ladymisskirroyale

    The Go-Betweens spent a lot of time away from their native Australia so wrote many, many letters to loved ones. They are probably the band with the most letter references. Here’s a demo version of one of them, Part Company:


  66. H. Munster

    “Billy and Sue” by B.J. Thomas
    “And then like a miracle the letter appeared
    Billy tore the letter open and it read Dear John”

  67. Talking Heads – “Life During Wartime”

    “Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
    Gonna be different this time.
    Can’t write a letter, can’t send a postcard,
    I can’t write nothing at all.”

  68. ladymisskirroyale

    The Go-Between’s “Love Is A Sign”: “The letters that we’re writing, Baby they just break our hearts…”

    More about the Go-Between’s: Their early albums mention (so far in my perusal) at least one song on each album about writing or letters. Later albums mention phone calls (ah, those Transatlantic calls had become cheaper!). This all makes sense given that they took their name from the novel, “The Go-Between” by L.P. Hartley. The plot centers around a boy who acts as a conduit for (written) messages between a pair of lovers.

  69. Uh oh, H. Munster’s come to town. This guy always means business!

  70. Mmm, I know you’re not the first to slip in a mere mention of a letter, but let’s see if we can’t keep the letter references at least somewhat crucial to the song’s theme. I don’t want to be faced with having to rule on a They Might Be Giants kid’s song from Here Comes the ABCs that may use the word “letter.”

  71. H. Munster

    The Marvelettes — “Twistin’ Postman”

    Follow up to “Please Mr. Postman”

  72. tonyola

    Weird Al Yankovic – “The Check’s In The Mail”

  73. ladymisskirroyale

    Kristin Hersh – “The Letter”

  74. cherguevara

    You know, I’m a bit surprised that nobody has mentioned “Letter To Both Sides” by The Fixx, recorded for the soundtrack to the classic film, “Fletch.”

  75. ladymisskirroyale

    Cher, that was indeed a horrible oversight…
    I’ll rectify with Nick Cave’s “Love Letter”

  76. H. Munster

    Mary Wells — “Dear Lover”

  77. The Mekons – “The Letter”

    “Did you forget to post the letter
    Did you forget just how to write
    my name and address and the words
    I wish I was with you tonight”

  78. Happiness Stan

    Donovan – Epistle to Dippy

  79. hrrundivbakshi

    “I Believe I’m Gonna Make It,” Joe Tex


  80. cherguevara

    Requesting a judgment on The Police’s “Message In A Bottle.”

  81. Surprised all you Costello mavens didn’t mention The Juliet Letters, which is conceptually supposed to be be about letters written to Juliet Capulet about various romantic dilemmas.

    Don’t ask me, I’ve never heard it all the way through.

  82. Believe it or not, approved!

  83. I successfully blocked that album out of my consciousness. No thanks to you for reminding me of it! Congrats, however, on your current status.

  84. ladymisskirroyale

    Ruling please:
    The Go-Betweens “Hope and Strife” initially mentions postcards but then makes multiple mentions of “your poison pen.” Other than a letter, I don’t think a poison pen references anything else, does it?


  85. Yes, that sounds like a letter-based song!

  86. H. Munster

    Mary Wells — “Love Letter”

  87. ladymisskirroyale

    No lyrics, but the title sums it up: Alessandro Stefano’s “Poste E Telegrafi Blues.”


    Lovers of Eno or Marc Ribot may like this.

  88. BigSteve

    Toussaint McCall’s Nothing Takes the Place of You. The lyrics are a letter the singer is writing, which you don’t find out until he sings “as I write this letter” in the middle eight. Great song.

  89. H. Munster

    BigSteve reminds me of “Famous Blue Raincoat” where Leonard Cohen does the same thing.

  90. Happiness Stan

    Love Letters Straight From Your Heart

  91. Happiness Stan

    unless that’s the same one Tony posted earlier…

  92. Wow that may be the first good piece of Italian rock ‘n roll I’ve ever heard!

  93. Dexy’s Midnight Runners, “There, There My Dear”:



  94. What’s the band’s Look here, The Stevedore?

  95. cherguevara

    Dylan – Desolation Row

    Yes, I received your letter yesterday
    (About the time the doorknob broke)
    When you asked how I was doing
    Was that some kind of joke?
    All these people that you mention
    Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
    I had to rearrange their faces
    And give them all another name
    Right now I can’t read too good
    Don’t send me no more letters, no
    Not unless you mail them
    From Desolation Row

  96. The contest conditions specify “the postal service and its deliverables” so, therefore “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child.

  97. mockcarr

    whoops. see below.

  98. mockcarr

    how bout this Easybeats piece of fluff –


  99. “Elaine,” the Smithereens; opening lines:

    “I got your letter in the mail the other day,
    you had to say that you were leaving me…”

  100. Happiness Stan

    “A mere reference to a letter is not enough; the postal service and its deliverables must be central to the song.” That would be the aquatic postal service would it?

    It was that proviso alone which had prevented me offering JJ Barrie’s “No Charge”…

  101. Ha! In that case, OK, let’s allow all aquatic postal service deliveries, while continuing to ban UPS, FedEx, e-mail, Twitter, etc. You may post your JJ Barrie entry and claim your spot as Last Man Standing.

  102. Happiness Stan

    JJ Barrie – “No Charge”

  103. H. Munster

    REO Speedwagon — “In Your Letter”

  104. Hi Herman, I had that one at #16 above…

    And btw, I can’t figure out how the JJ Barrie song is about mail or letters? The song’s about an invoice being passed in a kitchen, not through the post… can I get a ruling here?

  105. H. Munster

    Sorry about that. So let’s go with “Dear Miss Lonely Hearts” by Thin Lizzy.

  106. Great song, LMS!

  107. Great little song – I just remembered this performance:

  108. Belle and Sebastian, “If She Wants Me.” Take THAT, H. Munster!

  109. H. Munster

    The Bob Seger System — “Leaning on My Dream”
    This is from their 1971 album “Mongrel.” The song is about a guy who walks by an anti-war demonstration with a disdainful attitude. Then he gets home and finds a letter in the mail beginning with the words “greetings from the President of the United States.” Next day he’s demonstrating.

    Rolling Stone panned the album, but it did have one fine song, “Lucifer,” which was a hit in the Detroit area.

  110. H. Munster

    The Crickets “He’s Old Enough to Know Better”

    He’s still my buddy
    She’s still my baby
    He’d better not write her a letter

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