High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Friday, August 25, 2017

Truly Yours, Shady ("The U.S. Male")




The Detroit Spinners were one of the top
soul groups of the 70s with a long string
of hits on the Atlantic label that included
"I'll Be Around" and "Rubberband Man."

"Rubberband Man" is a great song, a fun song,
but it would be a streeetch for me to say that all
great Spinners recordings were made in the 70s.
In fact, my favorite Spinners record was waxed
in the mid 60s when the group was still on the
roster at Motown. “Truly Yours” was a top 20
hit on the pop chart and a jukebox giant at
the Shady Dell, ranked high on my list
of the Dell's 200 Greatest Hits.

"Truly Yours" - The Spinners
(June 1966, highest chart pos.
#111 Pop/#16 R&B)


If you haven't guessed by now, this is a post post.
All of these songs have to do with writing, sending
or receiving letters, and I ain't talkin' about email.
When these songs were popular, people relied
on "snail mail." They put pen to paper, wrote
letters and dropped them into a metal box
for the mailman to pick-up. Don't believe
me? Think I'm making this up? Google it!
One of the first letter songs that came to
mind for use this post is "The Letter,"
the debut single and biggest hit by
the Memphis blue-eyed soul band
The Box Tops. When the record
starts playing you'll see the kids
on American Bandstand flock to
the floor giving us a glimpse of
the fashions and dance steps
that were "in" at the time.  

"The Letter" - The Box Tops
(Sept. 1967, highest chart pos. #1,
video from American Bandstand)


It has been less than a year since the death of
Bobby Vee, the one time teen idol who gave us
many excellent pop, rock 'n' roll and rockabilly
recordings. In keeping with our letter theme,
here's a fun Bobby Vee ditty entitled "A Letter
From Betty." (Could it be Betty Anderson of
Father Knows Best?)  Released as the flip side
of "Be True To Yourself," "A Letter From Betty"
charted in the summer of 1963.  The song's
scenario is familiar. Betty, an old flame,
the love of his life, sends Mr. Vee
a dreaded "Dear Bobby" letter.

"A Letter From Betty" - Bobby Vee
(July 1963, highest chart pos. #85,
B side of "Be True To Yourself")


A decade before Rare Earth became Motown's
first major hit making act consisting of all white
members, there were The Valadiers, the first
white group signed to Berry Gordy's label.
The Valadiers were the ones who wrote
and first recorded "Greetings (This Is
Uncle Sam)." Released in 1961, the
single made only a slight dent in the
pop chart. In 1966, a black Motown
group called The Monitors covered
the song with greater success, their
version coming close to the top 20
on the R&B Singles chart. Listen
 now to the seldom heard
Valadiers original.

"Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)"
The Valadiers (Nov./Dec. 1961,
highest chart pos. #89)


Singer-turned-actress Ketty Lester almost
wound up as TV's Julia, the role eventually
landed by Diahann Carroll. For five seasons
Ketty was a main cast member on Little House
On The Prairie. Earlier, during her career as a
traditional pop and R&B vocalist, Ketty scored
her biggest hit with a cover of "Love Letters,"
the title song of a 1945 film starring Jennifer
Jones and Joseph Cotten successfully recorded
that year by Dick Haymes. I love the drop-dead
slow pace of Ketty's ballad, her intimate vocals
and perfect diction. Released in 1962, Ketty's
updated version of "Love Letters" was a top 5
hit on the pop chart and went all the way
to #2 on the R&B chart.

"Love Letters" - Ketty Lester (Apr. 1962,
highest chart pos. #5 Hot 100/#2 R&B,
from 1962 album Love Letters)


Here's one of the many examples of the A side of
a record being eclipsed by the killer bee. Released
near the end of 1967 by the veteran R&B group
The Dells, "O-O, I Love You" is the A side of
of a single backed with the up tempo song
"There Is." "O-O" brushed the R&B top 20,
but radio stations and listeners liked
"There Is" even more and the fab flip
brushed the top 10. Listen now to my
next featured letter song, The Dells
singing another soft and tender
ballad with a letter theme -
"O-O, I Love You."

"O-O, I Love You" - The Dells
(Dec. 1967 & Jan. 1968, highest
chart pos. #61 Hot 100/#22 R&B,
from 1968 album There Is)


Of course, no post devoted to letter songs
would be complete without this one,
the debut single and #1 smash hit by
Motown's marvelous Marvelettes,
a song covered by The Beatles -
"Please Mr. Postman."

"Please Mr. Postman" - The Marvelettes
(Nov. & Dec. 1961, highest chart pos.
#1 Hot 100/#1 R&Bfrom Nov. 1961
album Please Mr. Postman)


And finally, "Sealed With a Kiss" by Brian Hyland,
a 1962 cover of a song originally recorded in 1960
by the Tennessee barbershop quartet The Four Voices.
As Brian performs his hit on what I believe to be a
1966 episode of American Bandstand, notice the
demeanor of the teenagers in the studio audience.
The images speak volumes about the sweetness,
the shyness and the natural reticence of most
teens back then. Being on television was a big
deal, much more than it is today. Did you hear
in that Dells' song I played earlier the words
"Because we're shy when we're young"?
Not so anymore! YouTube and other
forms of social media are turning
many of today's young people
into brazen exhibitionists.

To corroborate the statements above,
I posted a few of the comments I found
beneath this video on YouTube:

"1950's thru 1970's outclass 95% of songs/
videos today due to the disgusting/potty mouth/
racist/thug/criminal/sexual pervert/acts
rap lyrics of today."

"I'm 67 and the song takes me right back to the
early sixties, with fabulous halycon days and my
teen hormones coursing thru me. And all the girls
(well. most of them!) looked like Princesses."

"The entertainer wore a suit, and the audience
is dressed so nicely, really conservatively,
and I don't notice anyone with tattos.
What happened to those days...."

(food for thought as you watch, listen
and remember "the way we were.")

"Sealed With a Kiss" - Brian Hyland
(July 1962, highest chart pos. #3,
from 1962 album Sealed With a Kiss,
1966 appearance on American Bandstand)

That's my letter post...

signed, sealed and delivered. :)

Have a Shady day!


  1. What a clever idea— all these great songs having to do with letters! I didn’t realize there are so many— but I remember most of them. The Spinners are consistently smooth and soulful— and even though I do not remember their 60’s song Truly Yours I like it. The Letter is one of my favorites along with Please Mr. Postman and Sealed with a Kiss. It was fun hearing and learning about the other artists and songs. I especially like the ballads by Ketty Lester and the Dells.

    It was a treat to watch those two videos showing the kids on American Bandstand. You are right— they help us remember the dance moves and fashions that were popular in the 60’s— and they remind us that teenagers were more timid and reserved than young people appear to be today. Technology and social media have changed the coming of age experience.

    This was so much fun— I heard three of my favorite songs today and learned five new ones— all of them having to do with the U.S. Mail— and all of them delivered by the U.S. Male— lol.

    1. Hi, Kathryn!

      Thanks for taking the lead-off spot again this week. I’m happy to know you enjoyed my "postal post" concept. I’m sure there are many more letter songs that could be added to this play list, but these are the ones that immediately popped into my mind.

      I got the idea for this theme post a few weeks ago when I discovered that forgotten flip by Bobby Vee. By the way, if you look at the credits beneath the song title on the record label you will see that "Betty" was composed by the F-G-G guys, the Brill Building songwriting and producing team that later recorded as The Strangeloves, the bogus band of brothers from the Australian Outback. I’m sure you remember their Bo Diddley style hit “I Want Candy.”

      "Truly Yours" is one of the greatest hits of the Shady Dell, a mid tempo soul song that brought rats out on the floor in line dance formation. I can still see them in my mind.

      I was excited to find that footage of teenagers dancing on a mid 60s episode of American Bandstand. At least one of the girls that can be seen dancing in the Box Tops video also appears seated in the audience in the "Sealed With a Kiss" video, leading me to believe the two vids are from the same time period. There are two important things to keep in mind regarding YouTube videos. Many uploaders these days are making "cover videos" - new pieces of entertainment that sync music to archival video thereby creating an illusion, an imaginary scene or moment that did not exist in reality. In other words, the kids you see dancing to The Box Tops song "The Letter" might have been dancing to a completely different record, but as we watch and listen to the video our minds make it seem as though they are. The second thing to remember is that Brian Hyland's single "Sealed With a Kiss" charted in 1962, but I think this appearance of his on Bandstand took place in 1966. It was common for a guest artist to first sing an older familiar hit and then return later in the show to introduce their latest single. Therefore, the teenage audience watching Brian perform are most likely 1966 teenagers and definitely not 1962 teenagers.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed my postal post, Kathryn. Thanks again for coming and have a great weekend!

  2. Hey Shady, Did you know that the Valadiers became the Monitors,recording on the VIP label? Truly Yours is one of the best sides the Spinners cut! I don't have a comment on Brian Hyland, I never liked his songs. Too White! You'll have to forgive me. I keep forgetting that the same people who liked the Spinners also liked Brian Hyland. When you are so deep into black music, you sometimes forget that white people make records too. Funny because of my color. I've always loved the songs by Bobby Vee. He made it a little easier to accept the loss of Buddy Holly. I wish all the Dells were still alive. We did shows with them, and they were great guys. I've always said, when asked, who were your favorite groups?
    In the fifties I cut my teeth on the Dells and the Spaniels. Listen to Buddy King sing Love Letters. He smokes it!
    Hey Shady, maybe one of these weeks you can get into The Spaniels. Later Shady!

    1. Hi, Dave!

      Welcome back, good buddy! It is always a pleasure to have you here, to read your comments and to have you share your memories with us.

      Are you sure about The Valadiers being the same group as The Monitors? Until a few weeks ago, the Monitors version of "Greetings" is the only one I knew. Based upon what I have read, The Valadiers were Motown's first all white group and in 1961 they wrote and first recorded "Greetings." The Monitors were a black group that covered "Greetings" a few years later. I found it interesting that a couple members of The Monitors were school buddies of future Temptations members Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin.

      I'm delighted that your ears agree with mine on the quality of my featured Spinners recording. "Truly Yours" was a biggie at the Dell, I wanna testify. I can still picture the rats shuffling across the floor to that one.

      I hear what you are saying about being steeped in black music and not acquiring a taste for vanilla white artists like Brian Hyland. Soul and R&B will always be nearest and dearest to my heart, but I also enjoy some of the whitewashed sounds of guys like Brian and Tommy Roe and even Pat Boone. Of course, in recent years, as you have seen on SDMM, I have also cultivated a taste for modern EDM, rap and extreme metal.

      Bobby Vee was a fine artist, equally adept at performing pop and rock 'n' roll, and I don't see him being forgotten any time soon. I believe his rich musical legacy will live on.

      The Dells are also among my favorite groups and I have a lot of their material coming up in the months and years ahead, so please stay tuned. The Spaniels will also be performing here on station SDMM.

      Thanks for turning me on to Adrian's rendition of "Love Letters" on a volume of The Class of 60-Something. He certainly does smoke it! I loved seeing that CD cover art again, the one with the signpost pointing the way to the Shady Dell. :)

      Thanks again for joining the discussion, my good friend. I hope to see you back here soon, Davy. Take care!

  3. Where does one begin with a post this dynamic! Do you want the best or the worst first!!! Just kidding! I have to tell you I love "Rubberband Man". I like the Spinners, but really don't remember "Truly Yours". That's okay, because now I love it-this song gave me chills, Shady. It is so reminiscent of the times, the musical beats, the soft/shy words, and, of course-the dance! I can see why it was a hit at the Dell.

    How many times can a person say "WOW"! The Valadiers, (whom I don't recall ever hearing of) a DooWop group, with their "Greetings"! Back in the day there were some songs about boys going away to war, but this one really rocks (slowly). I just wanted to get up and dance to their slinky-smooth, slow beat song, and loved the talking!

    And, are you kidding? I sing myself to sleep with "Love Letters" a lot of nights. And, now I'm learning whose voice is behind it! I just totally love this one, and I do have some sheet music that I can at least pick out the chords to the song. Elvis also recorded a version that was good, of course. But I loved Ketty Lester's voice!

    I did enjoy the Bandstand videos, The Boxtops "Letter" is a favorite of mine, and Bobby Vee did have some good hits.

    Brian Hyland's voice has always mesmerized me! He could make me swoon with "Sealed With A Kiss". It's almost as though the song is being sung just for me, but not necessarily by him, lol! I could never get tired of that one, or "Please Mr. Postman". Those two songs were in the top of our favorites in the early 60's.

    I think this is a great post, Shady, and I concur with your comments at the end, "Brazen Exhibitionists"! Thank you for including comments made by other listeners. It's good to know we're not in this alone! LOL! Have a great weekend, Shady! Fantastic Job! ♫ Two Thumbs up!!!

    1. Hi, Suzanne!

      I am very happy to see you, dear friend! How are your doing?

      As you well know, and as I told my old buddy Dave Bupp (the guy who commented above, the lead singer of The Magnificent Men and The Del-Chords), my musical tastes are all over the map. One week I might be posting an over-sexed dance-pop girl group like those rowdies from Russia, Serebro, and the next week presenting content that's safe, innocent and wholesome as mother's milk. (I am assuming that mother's milk is still safe in this day and age. :) I'm glad that you, Kathryn and others agree that modern technological advances and the temptations of social media have turned many of our young people into selfie snapping showoffs. At the same time, there are plenty of bold, confident young people who are delighting us by showing off their musical talent. For example, you might recall me presenting last year the Poughkeepsie band Against The Current and their precocious lead singer Chrissy Costanza. Well, hold onto your hat because, in my next post one week from today, I will be showcasing another extraordinarily gifted young entertainer, one that you need to see and hear to believe.

      I'm thrilled to learn that "Truly Yours" got under your skin as it did mine all those years ago at the Dell. I'm also pleased that you liked the Valadiers and their letter song "Greetings This Is Uncle Sam," a piece of mail dreaded by most young men even more than the "Dear John" letter. I am delighted to know that "Love Letters" is one of your long time favorite songs. Can you picture Ketty Lester in the TV role of Julia?

      I think Brian Hyland looks rather awkward in that Bandstand lip sync performance, don't you? I'm pretty sure his appearance on the show came four years after "Sealed With A Kiss" was popular. Maybe he feared the modern, hip teenagers of 1966 would think his oldie was square.

      This was another stellar comment from you, dear friend Suzanne, and I thank you again for joining the fun. Have a super weekend and give Scootie a big hug and a smooch for me!

    2. You're right about Brian Hyland looking a bit out of sorts. I felt like he could have done the song with more emotion. He barely moved during the song, and it almost looked as though he was just uncomfortable. I've always liked the song, and I believe that most people during those years would have still enjoyed seeing him sing it.

      We do have some pretty talented young people out there. I'm a fan of America's Got Talent, and in the last few years, the singing acts have really improved. It is so amazing to watch some of them!

      Well, my friend, Scootie is back in school, and liking it okay! It will give me a bit more free time to blog, lol! We are expecting some rain from the hurricane, but fortunately we are not close by! Have a great weekend! ♫

    3. Hi, Suzanne!

      Yessum, I forgot to ask you about that hurricane. It's getting pretty scary over there - lots of heavy rain and flooding predicted. I'm happy to know you are removed from its impact zone.

      I was also going to ask about your visit with your mom and how Scootie is liking school. You answered that last question in your reply. Would you please drop me a line and tell me how your mother is doing and how you and Scootie made out when you went to visit her recently?

      Brian Hyland looks wooden, like he's just going through the motions in that lip sync performance. It's hard to tell why. Maybe he didn't like the idea of lip syncing a song. Maybe, like some artists, he was trying to change his image at that point and distance himself from older material.

      Thanks again for reporting in, dear friend Suzanne. I wish you a safe and happy weekend!

  4. What a great theme for today's post... and some great music, as well! Times really have changed, haven't they.

    Some of us still write those letters by hand, stamp them, and drop them in a mail box! ;) It's a real treat to get one in return! (as opposed to bills and junk mail)

    1. Hi hi hi, Kelly!

      Thank you very much for popping in to find out what Shady Del Knight aka "The U.S. Male" came up with this week. I'm glad you appreciate my postal post.

      Knowing that you own and treasure your vintage collectibles and that you enjoy putting together huge jigsaw puzzles, it doesn't surprise me one bit to learn that you still like to go old school and write snail mail letters. In this day and age, busy as everyone seems to be, anyone who makes time to sit down, take pen in hand and write a real letter should be considered an exceptional friend. It certainly does mean a lot to receive a handwritten letter or note.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the letter themed music, too, dear friend Kelly. Thank you again for coming and have a wonderful weekend!

  5. So hooked on your blog, friend Shady ... Was much too young, when you had fun, but seem to remember, when you play it ... Here is hoping that you'll play it again and again ... smiles ... Love always, cat.

    1. Hi, cat!

      Welcome welcome welcome, dear feline friend! Thank you for coming down to experience my post post.

      I'm hooked on YOU, dearie! It makes me happy to introduce you to songs you never heard before along with forgotten favorites that you haven't listen to since childhood. I am also learning a lot about music of the world through your blog.

      Based on the favorable reaction so far, I'm glad I posted my post post. :) Thank you again for joining me, dear friend cat!

      Lubbins lubbins lubbins!

    2. Play it again, friend Shady ... smiles ... meouw ... Love, cat.

  6. Bruce Springsteen once commented that the reason that he sang so many songs about cars is because so many other performers he admired had, that it was one it was one of the great themes of rock and roll. Well, thanks to this post, a case can be made that letter writing is ANOTHER of the great themes of rock and roll, right up there with cars.

    1. Hi, Kirk!

      How are you this weekend, good buddy? Thanks a lot for coming over!

      You make a good point, Kirk. Cars are the featured subject in many great pop and rock recordings, at least those of decades past, the definitive, in my opinion, being "Drive" by The Cars. "Cars" by Gary Numan is another good example, as is "Beep Beep" by the Playmates, "Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat)" by Paul Evans, "No Particular Place To Go" by Chuck Berry, and who can forget Billy Ocean's "Get Out Of My Dreams (and Into My Car)"? Those hits were popular decades ago, relics of ancient history to today's young people. I'm afraid the same might be true of letter songs. The songs in this post were written during the peak years of Dear Abby and Ann Landers when people wrote letters to those columns and inquired about proper manners and etiquette. In this ultra casual, confrontational new millennium I don't think proper manners and etiquette matter nearly as much as they once did, and I'm afraid many young people today would consider a song about letter writing dated, old school, boring and irrelevant. It's nice, though, don't you agree, to remember "the way we were"?

      Thanks again for your visit and kind comment, good buddy Kirk, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  7. Tom,

    What a fun mewsical theme! Most of these tunes I didn't know. I think the song titles sounded familiar, so it was a joy to hear them. Obviously, I knew the last two because of their immense popularity but I'm not sure if it's the original I know or covers. I'm gonna have to double check that, then get back with you. Anywho, loved your post post about letters! To bad this is a lost art form! Have a tunetastic weekend, dear friend!

    1. Hi, Cathy!

      I am very excited to see you today, dear friend. Thanks for coming by on a weekend. I am grateful!

      I'm happy to know you appreciated this mewsical theme, dated as it is. I don't think snail mail letter writing is a hot topic of pop songs in the "new" millennium (which will be half over before we know it).

      Yessum, some of these hits have been recorded more recently by other artists so there's a good chance the versions with which you are familiar are covers.

      It always make me happy to bring you joy and to get you interested in further research. I hope you and DH are doing well and I hope you enjoy your Sunday.

      Thanks again for joining the fun, dear friend Cathy!

    2. Tom,

      Being a part of the blogging community, especially in my wonderful little circle of friends which include mewsic enthusiasts such as you, I'm familiar with the original of a lot of the oldies. The Marvelettes "Please Mr. Postman" I know but the version I grew up with is the one sung by Karen Carpenter in the mid-70s which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

      The lovely ballad, "Sealed With A Kiss" has always been a favorite. Naturally, I did not remember the original artist, The Four Voices, so I had to listen to theirs and WOW did they ever do a fantastic job. I don't know why they didn't hit it out of the park. Their voices are beautiful. Brian Hyland's recording I only remember in the aftermath of many years. Wikipedia informed me that Gary Lewis & the Playboys covered "Sealed With A Kiss" in 1968 which hit #19 on Billboard Hot 100. I do not remember theirs but it was nice to listen to. I think overall my favorite rendition is still the one I grew up with in the early 70s by Bobby Vinton.

      It's hard to go wrong with any of these early artists covering these classics! :)

    3. Hi, Cathy!

      Thank you very much for returning to continue our thread, dear friend! The new info you brought with you prompted me to investigate artists and versions of songs that I never listened to before.

      It's been a while since I listened to The Carpenters' version of "Please Mr. Postman." The Carpenters had a knack of covering somebody else's hit and making it their own, didn't they? I also discovered a nice version of the song recorded by The Saturdays, the English-Irish girl group that I am featuring in my rave series:

      I never even heard of The Tennessee group the Four Voices and so it was a learning experience for me to hear their original of "SWAK." I did some reading and learned that The Four Voices started releasing records in the mid 50s along with several other white pop quartets that included the Four Aces, the Four Esquires, the Four Lads and the Four Coins. The Wiki article stated that "SWAK," which bubbled under the Cash Box chart in the spring of 1960 and missed Billboard entirely, was "possibly the final single" by the Four Voices, but lists three additional Four Voices singles ending in 1962 with either a reissue or rerecording of their biggest hit, "Lovely One," which reached the top 20 in the early months of 1956. My fave so far by the Four Voices is their other Billboard charting single (#51) "Dancing With My Shadow."

      Although both singles reached #19 on the pop chart, I don't remember the versions of "SWAK" by Gary Lewis or by Bobby Vinton. I am inclined to agree with you that Bobby Vinton's cover is the best of all. I really like it.

      Thanks again for bringing your best to SDMM, dear friend Cathy!

    4. Tom,

      Thanks for sharing The Saturday's cover of Please Mr. Postman. They do ok but they're no match for Karen Carpenter.

      Wikipedia shows all of the Four Voices discography dates with the last recording SWAK in 1960 like you mentioned. "Dancing With My Shadow" released in 1957 according to Wikipedia, so it's very possible you're right about it being a re-issue or re-recording. It is a pretty song but I think I may like their SWAK more. I also listened to "Lovely One" at YouTube. It has that classic dreamy 50s tone, transporting me an era before my existence. This is the era of mewsic for my mother who was only 11 years old when this song released in 1956. Yes, I have a young mama. She could be a big sister and when I was a teen they thought she was my older sister. :) Anywho, Four Voices really had smooth vocals! Thanks for the introduction. :)

    5. Hi again, dear Cathy!

      Gosh, your mother is only five years older than Shady! :)

      In our discussion of mid 50s white groups with the word "Four" in their name, let us not forget the group that went on to greatest success. In the mid and late 50s they called themselves The Four Lovers. In the 60s they ruled the pop chart recording with their new name The Four Seasons. I think it is interesting how often Frankie Valli's group changed the way their name appeared on the record labels of their single releases. Most of their 45s were released as "The 4 Seasons" but they also released singles as "4 Seasons" "The Four Seasons," "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons," "Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons," "The 4 Seasons Featuring the 'Sound' of Frankie Valli," "Frankie Valli 4 Seasons" and "The Wonder Who?" Luckily the lack of continuity did not hurt the group.

      Thanks again for chatting with me so often this week, dear friend Cathy!

  8. Many of these names meant nothing but the songs I knew

    1. Hi, Jo-Anne!

      How are you, my Aussie friend? Thanks for making the long journey here to listen to these oldies about letter writing. I'm delighted to know that you remember these songs even if you didn't recognize the names of the artists that performed them. I'm sure some of these were released before you were born.

      Thanks again for taking a peek at the post post, dear friend Jo-Anne, and have a super Sunday down under!

  9. Wow, what an incredibly clever theme idea Tom! I love it.

    Ah, "The Letter" - absolutely one of my very favorite songs of all time!

    I also like the Spinners "Truly Yours" - that's a nice song. Although I must say, I like Rubberband Man more...

    I don't recognize the name of Bobby Vee or his song "A Letter from Betsy". Not sure if I've ever heard any Bobby Vee songs. Will have to check into that.

    "Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)" - I never heard of the Valadiers either but they definitely have an interesting place in history being truly the first all-white band to be signed to a black label (though Rare Earth usually gets the credit for that title). I like their version and I also listened to The Monitors version. I like them both. Too bad the Valadiers version didn't make more of a dent in the charts. I really like the way they present the notion of receiving the dreaded letter from Uncle Sam. Unique.

    Ketty Lester: a regular on Little House on the Prairie? What role did she play? She does have a wonderful voice. I like her song "Love Letters" very much. I like the tinkle of the piano in this song too.

    The Dells song "O-O, I Love You" - great baritone introduction in the least I think it's baritone in sound, right? It's deeper than tenor so I'm assuming it's a baritone voice. I like the spoken part throughout. It grabs me. And the rest of the song is fabulous too. It's another new one to me so thanks for the introduction!

    "Please Mr Postman" -- I remember the days of waiting and waiting for the mailman to come and bring me some mail. It was always so exciting to get letters from friends and "pen pals" -- when was the last time you heard the term "Pen Pal"?? Such a lost art! Now a full week usually goes by before I check my mail. It's all junk usually. Rarely do I get anything important or interesting (I'm paperless on most everything so I don't even get bills in the mail usually).
    Good song. I remember the Marvelettes version as well as The Carpenters version and of course the Beatles version too.

    And I'm listening to "Sealed with a Kiss" right now, the last thing I'm doing before I go to bed. It's really lulling me... I like it! That's harmonica in the beginning and throughout, yes?
    And you're right: those days are so long gone. They were actually before my time but I grew up with the remnants from that decade so I'm very familiar with it. Kids seem to grow up so very fast these days. That golden age of innocence: so lost, never to be seen again, I predict. Interesting comments in that YouTube video.

    This was a fun post Tom. Again, very clever and unique idea. How did you come up with that?? Super fun.

    talk soon.
    Excellent post! I really enjoyed it.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. Hi, Michele!

      Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend! I am grateful that you made time for a visit while you and other Texans are hunkered down and being pounded by torrential rain in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all the people of the Lone Star State. It has been raining in my part of Florida for the last four days. We have had violent electrical storms and have lost power twice during that span. This morning it is raining especially hard. The forecast calls for more rain ahead every day this week and we are under flood alerts.

      I'm delighted to know you enjoyed my mail and letter theme post and discovered some new to you songs related to it.

      To answer your question, soul/jazz songstress Ketty Lester was in the cast of Little House from 1977 to 1983. Her first role in that series was as the character Janie Kagan after which she took the role of Hester-Sue Terhune. Before that, in the mid 70s, Ketty played Helen Grant on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. Before that, in 1972, Ketty appeared in one of my favorite scary movies, the blaxploitation horror flick Blacula (Black Dracula).

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the old school sound of The Dells on their letter writing ballad. They don't make 'em like that anymore. Have you ever seen the 1991 musical film The Five Heartbeats? It is loosely based on the lives of The Dells and The Dells were creative consultants on the project.

      That's right! People used to have snail mail pen pals around the world. I tried it myself for a while. In fact, I still receive letters carefully written on beautiful ornate stationery from a Japanese woman whom, as a college age girl, lived with my family for a couple of months in the early 60s as a foreign exchange student. Like others her age, she has remained reluctant to step into the modern age and become computer literate, and therefore prefers to communicate the old fashioned way. I like that! Somebody needs to preserve the old ways. I believe there is value in taking time to express yourself via pen strokes on paper and it means a lot to receive such correspondence.

      I came up with the idea for this theme when I stumbled upon that Bobby Vee side, a song I had never heard before. I like it and thought it would be fun to remind you that there were quite a few letter themed hit records back in the day. Another song I could have added to the post is Billy Williams' 1957 hit "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter." I can't think of any modern hits based on snail mail letter writing, can you? Much of today's music is about losing control of yourself and wilding at the club (or even shooting-up the club!). The golden age of innocence is indeed long gone.

      Thanks again, a million, for taking time to write a comment so long that it spilled over into email. I just read your email and will respond to it. You are a great friend Michele, and it is a pleasure to entertain you.

      I hope your weather improves soon. Hurricane Harvey didn't give your mother a very friendly welcome to Texas, did he? Stay safe, dear friend!

    2. No, he sure didn't. My Mom just said she never expected to have weather like this in Texas! She dealt with a number of hurricanes over her 27 years on the coast of North Carolina but she sure wasn't expecting to deal with one here!
      In my area, the rain has stopped and the sun is peeking in and out. I'm going to take Mom home back to her apartment this afternoon.

      That's very cool about the Japanese woman still writing to you. I just received a letter from a woman I used to work for back in DC. She was the Media Director at the ad agency I worked for, and I was the Broadcast Planner/Buyer. She keeps in touch with me on a regular basis, always remembering my birthday each year. She says that she doesn't like to communicate via email and people will just have to write her to keep in touch. I still haven't responded but it's on my To Do list...I do have a bunch of blank cards so I have no excuse!

      The Five Heartbeats? Never heard of it. But it sure sounds good. I'll definitely look for it. Thanks for the recommendation.

      talk soon, my friend!

    3. Hi again, Michele!

      I just got back off the road from a day of running errands. The weather was absolutely miserable - monsoon rain and gusty wind - not the best day to be out and about. I got soaked to the skin. I learned that our part of Florida has received 13 inches of rain in the last 48 hours and there's more on the way. I hope conditions in your area continue to improve by the hour.

      I'm glad you have an old fashioned pen pal like the Japanese lady who writes to me every year.

      Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend Michele!

  10. Okay, Shady, I've been on your site for thirty minutes now, listening and humming and tapping my foot. A Letter from Betty made me tear up. The dancing made me want to put on my shoes and find a partner. Now I'm nostalgic for the postman and those letters in mailbox. :-)

    1. Hi, Cheryl!

      Thank you very much for coming over, dear friend! I am thrilled and grateful to know that you spent a half hour in the Shady grooving to tunes. It does my heart good to know that these letter songs resonated with you, that some made you dance and some made you misty-blue.

      Here's another flashback. I once had a job as a paper boy. I walked around my block with a sack over my shoulder delivering the daily newspaper. Do paper boys still exist?

      Thanks again for joining the fun over here, dear friend Cheryl. I love it when you drop by. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  11. I'm thinking this might be one of my favorite posts of yours. It brought back so many memories! I loved Bandstand and yes, those kiddos were dressed so sweet and the guys all had ties on! I remember my brother was sent home from high school back in the 60's for not wearing a belt on his trousers! Seriously! But there were other memories '67 both my brothers were in Vietnam and it was a tense time in our house. But as a freshman in high school I was also going to dances, not yet allowed to date, hoping to get my first real job and all the other rights of passage that these days do seem so innocent and void of drugs, alcohol, sex, tattoos but thankfully, still rock and roll! I loved all the songs and was surprised when I heard Ketty Lester. I watched all the Little house series and didn't know she was a singer and a really good one too! When I listened to "Sealed with a Kiss" it made me think of all the times school would be out for Summer and you hoped that cute guy would call! Usually it was finding a cute guy on vacation in the Summer and having to say bye! Anyway you shake it, letters are so fun to get in the mail. I try and send them out just to surprise folks. I sent my Mom a letter a few weeks ago and she called to say how great it was to get one in the mail and it made her cry! Not my intention but glad she enjoyed it. Well, this post "letter" is saying bye for now. I'm sorry I missed your last post. I haven't blogged in a few weeks but will tonight. We're heading out for Oregon, Portland on Wednesday to see the kids. We haven't seen them in 2 years so we're excited. Take care and I'll seal this with a kiss on the cheek Shady! Have a good Labor day holiday!

    1. Hi, YaYa!

      Thank you so much for making time for a visit, dear friend, and for sharing your thoughts and memories with us. I'm thinking this might be one of my favorite comments of yours! :)

      Yessum, I remember that school dress code rule that boys needed to wear a belt. Either there were a lot more rules back then or they were taken much more seriously and followed much more often.

      It must have been a tense time indeed for your folks to have two boys serving in Vietnam, but how proud all of you must have been of them for serving their country.

      It seems like you are saying that you remember Ketty Lester's character on Little House. I didn't follow that series but watched Michael Landon's earlier series Bonanza and his later series Highway To Heaven. It's hard to believe boyish faced Michael has been dead and gone more than 26 years now.

      Yessum, the concept of a "summer boy" or "summer girl" is a real thing and I experienced it a few times myself. Over the years I met some of the nicest, most special girls while on vacation in far off places. It was always a bittersweet moment when it came time to part knowing that we would probably never meet again. Young people who meet under those circumstances, on summer vacation far from home, might exchange addresses when time's up and agree to write and stay in touch with each other, but it rarely works out that way and I think it is for the best. Once the magic of a vacation getaway wears off and you are once again immersed in your daily routine, you realize that corresponding is futile. Ultimately it is better to save time in a bottle, to preserve those special memories and not risk diminishing or tarnishing them by trying to stay in touch with each other after its over. I'm sure you know what I mean.

      It was very thoughtful of you to send your mother a handwritten letter, the kind that were much more common when the songs in this post were popular. I will always keep and treasure the handwritten messages I received in recent years from Margaret Schneider, The Oldest Living Dell Rat and her daughter Kathleen.

      I wish you a safe trip out to Oregon, Portland, (does anybody else get why you and I write it that way :) and hope you enjoy seeing your west coast grandkiddos again. Will Jord be watching Chubbsie while you are away?

      Thank you again for your visit and wonderful comment, dear friend YaYa!

  12. This was so nice to listen to and the differences in dancing! The second song, I know the song well and I love it but as I watch the all white golly gee kids dance it seems to verify that white people have no real rhythm:) There is so much they could do and I was thinking of Soul Train and how cool they we and how they danced...they could show these kids a thing or two. The one guy and girl on the box made me giggle with his oversized sweater and white. I could put them to shame if I do say so myself. I had no idea Ketty sang so beautifully as I only know her from Walnut Grove. You are right bout the last song and the sweet girls who do look u comfortable being filmed. Now, they would be sticking out their pierced tongue doing some twisting of their body yelling in the camera while doing those finger gestures, tattooed up the ying yang and dressed like hookers gone nuts. Anyhoo, loved all these songs...thanks for making me smile

    1. Hi, Birgit!

      Welcome welcome welcome, dear friend! I'm very happy to see you. Thanks for joining the discussion of letter songs (and dancing white teenagers) of the past. :)

      I totally agree with you, BB. I watched Bandstand through most of the years of its long run and I didn't see very many kids that I would call great dancers. Yet AB is the first show that comes to the minds of many people when the discussion turns to dances and dancers of the 60s. In all fairness, Bandstand's glory years were in the 50s and 60s before Soul Train even went on the air, but nobody could move like the Soul Train Gang as my 50-part Shady Train series will illustrate. If you wanted to see great dancing by white kids, you needed to tune in to Jerry Blavat's TV series in Philadelphia and, if we're talking about an all-white dance troupe with the most attractive members and the greatest moves, for my money they were The Action Kids on Dick Clark's other music series Where The Action Is.

      I'm happy to know you remember watching Ketty Lester on Little House and were pleased to hear her hit record. As an actress Ketty tried out for the role of TV's Julia and didn't get the lead, but wound up appearing in five episodes of the series as Rita Hopkins. Among her many other acting credits were a couple of episodes of Green Acres, a four year run on Days of Our Lives, two episodes of Room 222, the blaxploitation film Blacula, three eps of The New Temperatures Rising, a couple of Love American Styles and three eps of Marcus Welby. Ketty also played a prostitute on Streets of San Francisco and was in all seven aired eps of the mid 80s series Morningstar/Eveningstar.

      Re: the "Sealed w a Kiss" video -
      absolutely absolutely absolutely, BB. You get what I was trying to convey about how brazen many of today's media savvy teenagers are compared to those of the past. We've come a long way, baby, but at what cost? I'm a little worried.

      Thank YOU for making ME smile. dear friend Birgit. This was another outstanding comment from you, one that provided fodder for further discussion, the kind I most appreciate here. Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend!

  13. Very clever Shadester!!! Some of these songs like Mr Postman are what they call earworms. They get in your head and is hard to not sing or hear all day long.
    My mom and I send cards to each other quite a bit. I have a large collection of greeting cards that I always pick up from drugstore, target, etc.
    I used to do a prison ministry a while back as a Christian mentor and would right letters often to a few of the prisoners I was assigned to. I enjoyed the process of handwriting. Although my writing is very messy and I feel sorry for the recipient trying to translate my penmanship. LOL
    These days , kids are more familiar with writing emails or long texts messages.
    Have a great week!!

    1. Hi, Holli!

      It's great to see you, dear friend! Thank you very much for coming over and listening to these old songs that recall the days when people sat down and wrote letters to each other...on paper... not on a phone or computer screen.

      Yessum, some of these songs are earworms. They get stuck in your noggin for hours or days at a time, but I can think of worse fates, right?

      There is something hypnotic about the process of letter writing - the smell of the ink on fresh stationery and the strokes of the pen as you commit your thoughts and feelings to paper. Electronic pokes and tweets cannot compare nor can blog posts and comments because they do not bring the same olfactory, auditory and tactile senses into play. It's the same with reading a book. I prefer to hold a real book in my hands, feel its weight and mass, smell the paper and listen to the gentle, relaxing sound made when you turn a page.

      Thank you for sharing that you served as a mentor in a prison ministry and exchanged handwritten letters with inmates. I'm sure you made a difference in their lives.

      I've been thinking about you, Holli, and hoping you and your friends and loved ones remain safe and sound in the aftermath of that terrible hurricane. Thank you again for your visit and comment and enjoy the rest of your week!

  14. These sound like great songs! I really appreciate you sharing them.

    1. Hi, Gina!

      I am thrilled to see you again, my Los Angeles friend! I just noticed that I last commented on one of your posts in October of last year. I am so glad you decided to get back in touch.

      I am also happy to know you enjoyed listening to these dusty discs which were popular light years before you were born.

      I'll be over to see you shortly. Please come back again soon, Gina, and thank you very much for your visit and comment!

  15. Hi Shady!
    Terrific post ;-) It conjured up a ton of pleasant memories. The only one who did "The Letter" better was Joe Cocker. Ketty Lester has a beautiful voice! Always loved "Mr. Postman" and thanks, by the way, for reminding me to check my mailbox! Funny how I never forget the one I have to drive to, yet rarely remember to check the one in front of my house. I like how the Spinners made "Truly Yours" not as truly sad as it could have been with the upbeat sound of resilience.
    Hope your week was fabulous!

    1. Hi, diedre!

      Wow, I am very happy to see you today, dear friend. Thank you for coming!

      I'm glad you didn't miss my postal theme post. I am excited to learn that these letter songs brought back some pleasant memories. Remember people writing letters to Dear Abby and Ann Landers?

      Thanks for reminding me about Joe Cocker's version of "The Letter." It surprises me that some people don't enjoy Joe's rough song styling. I appreciated it and enjoyed watching him perform live.

      I'm delighted to introduce you to "Truly Yours," my favorite of all Spinners recordings. Great as that record is, it only Bubbled Under the Hot 100. You're right. The uplifting melody, arrangement and mid tempo beat are somewhat contrapuntal to the story told by the song's lyrics.

      I hope your week was fabulous too, dear friend diedre. Thank you again for joining me today and for your wonderful comment. Stay tuned now for a very special post beginning tomorrow morning and have a great weekend. I hope to see you soon!


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