Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Box Tops

In September 1967, after the summer of love, the number one hit was a song taken from a movie called, To Sir With Love and the singer was a woman named Lulu. The song endured but shortly after it reached number 1, it was supplanted by a song by a group called the Box Tops. The song was called, The Letter, and it began with a lyric that reflected a frenzied reaction: "Give me a ticket for an airplane, aint got time for a fast train, lonely days are gone, I'm a goin' home, My baby she wrote me a letter."

The timing of the song release was likely fortuitous. Baby boomers in the millions were leaving home and going to college that September after the summer of love. The idea that a letter could be powerful enough to bring a sweetheart charging home was a comforting notion to those who had recently been separated. Of course it was likely in the realm of the real world that by the time the plane had landed, the "baby" who "wrote me a letter" might have had a second thought, making the flight's descent smooth sailing compared to the bumpy landing of the traveller.

One hears the Box Tops song now and again on Oldie stations, but I think it might have a muted impact in this next generation. By the time a sweetheart in 2011 is an hour away from a lover, there would be muliple texts, a call or two on a cell phone, and maybe a picture transmitted easily on a blackberry. "Here is me at the train station feeling blue."

Would someone be likely to bolt off the train if he received a text saying, "I miss you to bits" twenty five minutes after the last embrace? Maybe so, but I think there is a power to a posted letter that carries the weight of some time away. Would you rather get a birthday card that is handwritten, or a text wishing you a great day? Maybe soon the distinction between the two forms of communication will be blurred, but somehow I doubt that the lyric, "My baby, she wrote me an e-mail" would compel someone to hop on an airplane.

1 comment:

  1. Great point. Texting offers one the instant ego gratification to communicate inconsequential vapid thoughts ununcumbered by the thought process (click and clack)to those who respond likewise. In the past I've pondered interminally while writing letters for the best collection of words to express myself. And I've studied letters for hours from lovers trying to decipher the most accurate meaning. Which brings us back to your initial revelation/postulation of the author.That being said. So why is so important that Suny at Albany or Northeasten or my alma mata American one day beat a team that has some future NBA'ers.