♫ The Letter ♫

Let’s see … what to play … I know!  You Really Got a Hold on Me by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles … nope, already played it back in 2018.  Oh!  I’ve got it!  What’s Going On by Marv … nope, already played it … back in 2018.  Sigh.  Okay … what else … I KNOW!  The Letter by The Box Tops!

The Nashville songwriter Wayne Carson Thompson wrote the song after his father gave him the line, “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane.”  Thompson gave the song to The Box Tops on the recommendation of his friend, Chips Moman, who ran ARS Studios and liked the sound of an unnamed band headed by then-16-year-old Alex Chilton, who auditioned for him in 1967.

Thompson played guitar on the recording. He didn’t like the singing, believing the lead vocal was too husky, and wasn’t fond of the production either. The addition of the jet sound “didn’t make sense” to him. When producer Dan Penn added the airplane sound to the recording, Wayne Carson Thompson clearly thought that Penn had lost his mind. He hadn’t – several weeks later it became one of the biggest records of the ’60s, and The Box Tops went on to score with a few other Thompson compositions.

The Letter launched Chilton’s career and inspired numerous cover versions. English rock and soul singer Joe Cocker’s 1970 rendition became his first top ten single in the U.S.; several other artists have recorded versions of the song which also reached the record charts.

The video is of very poor quality, for which I apologize, but the sound quality of this one was the best of the 5 or 6 I viewed, so I went with it.

The Letter
The Box Tops

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

I don’t care how much money I gotta spend
Got to get back to my baby again
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter

Well, she wrote me a letter
Said she couldn’t live without me no more
Listen mister, can’t you see I got to get back
To my baby once-a more
Anyway, yeah

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

Well, she wrote me a letter
Said she couldn’t live without me no more
Listen mister, can’t you see I got to get back
To my baby once-a more
Anyway, yeah

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, my baby just-a wrote me a letter

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Wayne Carson Thompson
The Letter lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

23 thoughts on “♫ The Letter ♫

  1. Wonderful memories of this song filling my teenage head as I fell deep into American music.
    Interesting that Thompson didn’t like the airplane sound, for me it was an important part of the song very atmospheric
    (have you ever heard ‘Sandman’ by the Boxtops? doesn’t seem to register anywhere these days, but very moving)
    Sorry about the sour ending but get this:
    Singer Alex Chilton died of a heart attack in 2010:
    Wikipedia quote: “Chilton had experienced at least two episodes of shortness of breath in the week prior to his fatal heart attack, though he did not seek medical attention in part because he did not have health insurance”…Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Box Tops tried to poach Burton Cummings of the Guess Who a few years later. He refused to go. Not long after the Guess Who were rated the top draw in the world. Boys from Winnipeg. Good for them.

    Liked by 2 people

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