Recorded on March 27, 1962, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, it is about a man mailing a letter to his girlfriend after an argument. She continually writes "return to sender" and he keeps receiving the letter with various reasons for returning to sender, including "address unknown" and "no such person". He keeps mailing letters, refusing to believe the relationship is over. Presley performed "Return to Sender" in the film Girls! Girls! Girls!.
Featuring Presley's longtime cohorts Barney Kessel on electric guitar, Tiny Timbrell on acoustic guitar, Ray Siegal on Double bass, D.J. Fontana on drums,Dudley Brooks on piano, Boots Randolph on baritone saxophone, and the Jordanaires on backing vocals, augmented by various session musicians, including drummer Hal Blaine, the song features an opening saxophone bar. Another saxophonist, Bobby Keys, claimed he performed the solo at the instigation of pianist Glen D. Hardin, in his 2012 memoir Every Night's A Saturday Night. However, Hardin did not meet Presley until February 1970, when he joined his touring band. In addition, his claim is not supported by RCA, Ernst Jorgensen (the official archivist for Presley's recordings), or session logs.
The song peaked at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, and number 2 on the American Billboard singles chart, but reached number 1 on the rival Cash Box and Music Vendor singles charts. "Return to Sender" also went to number five on the R&B charts. It was the first Christmas number one in Ireland, as the Irish Charts had been founded in October 1962. The single was certified "Platinum" by the RIAAfor sales in excess of one million units in the US.
The phrase "no such zone" in the song refers to U.S. postal zones, a predecessor of the current U.S. ZIP Code. A postal zone was a one- or two-digit number written between the city and state ("New York 1, NY"), whereas a ZIP Code is a five- or nine-digit number written after the state ("New York, NY 10001").
On January 8, 1993, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp honoring Presley. Many stamp collectors mailed envelopes, franked with this stamp, to fictitious addresses in the hopes that they would receive their letters not only postmarked with the first day of issue, but also with a "return to sender" postal marking.
- Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 67. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
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- Jorgensen, Ernst (1998). Elvis Presley: A Life in Music - The Complete Recording Sessions. St. Martin's Press.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 144–5. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 468.
- "Gerri Granger - Don't Want Your Love Letters / Ain't It Funny - Bigtop - USA - 45-3128". 45cat. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
|Preceded by||UK number one single
December 13, 1962 (3 weeks)