The Marvelettes – “Beechwood 4-5789”

The Marvelettes – “Beechwood 4-5789” Pop #17, R&B #7

The Marvelletes’ follow-up single wasn’t as successful as “Please Mr. Postman.” Berry Gordy hoped to cash in on the telephone song trend that included Glenn Miller’s earlier big-band hit “Pennsylvania 6-500” and Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789,” but the chorus wasn’t as strong or memorable as either of those songs or the Tommy Tutone’s ‘80s hit “Jenny (867-5309).”

Gladys Horton’s earnest lead vocals sound more desperate than inviting. Although she’s trying to sound casual, it’s clear that Horton’s request for the boy of her dreams to call her up for a date, “any old time” is her frustrated, final attempt at being noticed. While the dream date may never have phone, this number did become the most popular in America until Jenny arrived on the scene in the ‘80s.

The song was written by Marvin Gaye, Berry Gordy and musical director William “Mickey” Stevenson, who was memorialized in The Miracles’ song “Mickey’s Monkey.” Like “Please Mr. Postman,” “Beechwood 4-5789” was also covered by The Carpenters. Time has preserved the superior renderings of both of these songs. — By Joel Francis


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