“The Letter” is a popular song, written and composed by Wayne Carson Thompson, which was a US #1 hit in 1967 for the Box Tops.
Wayne Carson (sometimes known as Wayne Carson Thompson) wrote and composed “The Letter” after his father, who performed as Shorty Thompson in country group the Tall Timber Trio, and also dabbled in songwriting, suggested the opening line, “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane.” Carson wrote and composed the song, of which he then sent a demo tape to Chips Moman, who agreed to record the song with a new band.
The track was recorded at American Sound Studio in Memphis in a session produced by Dan Penn. Previously a musician and engineer at FAME Studios, Penn had been hired as production assistant by American Sound’s owner, Chips Moman, whom Penn felt was shutting him out as a collaborator. Penn recalls: “Finally, I just told [Moman]…’Look, we can’t produce together…I think I can produce records [alone]…But I do need somebody to cut. Give me the worst one you got.'” Moman suggested Penn record a local five-man outfit who had been pitched to him by disc jockey Roy Mack (Penn – “Chips was just graspin’. He’d never heard [the group]”) and also passed on to Penn a demo tape of songs cut by his friend, Wayne Carson Thompson, which included “The Letter.” Penn met with some of the members of the group–to which the name “The Box Tops” was eventually given– “and told them to pick anything they wanted from this tape [by Thompson], but make sure that we do ‘The Letter'” which Penn considered the one outstanding song.