He doesn't even need to tell us what the letter said, though he does in the bridge: "Well, she wrote me a letter, said she couldn't live without me no more / Listen, mister, can't you see I got to get back to my baby once a more" — pregnant pause here, while the horns swing around, the drummer knocks twice, then Chilton's voice swoons wildly — "Any way, yeah!" That's pretty much it, except for a long fadeout where the oddly perky electric organ repeats its calliope-like refrain and you hear a jet take off (I've always heard a seagull squawk too, though I could be wrong).
Though this record wasn't released in the summer, it still feels like a summer song to me — I have a distinct memory of standing on the midway at the Indiana State Fair, eating a corn dog, watching the Tilt-A-Whirl, standing transfixed while this song blared over the PA system.
Nobody writes letters anymore, I know — but I just can't imagine this song being updated to "My baby just sent me a text message." Just like Paul McCartney asking to hold your hand, that letter is code for the whole sexual shebang, and it's Chilton's gritty, earthy voice that puts in all the subtext. He may have just been imitating the Muscle Shoals and Sun Records r&b singers he'd grown up around, but that groan of longing, that husky urgency, means just one thing. I was even younger than Alex Chilton when I first heard this record, but I could feel the heat all right. Whew.