♫ The Tracks Of My Tears ♫ (Redux)

Well, all last week was Neil Diamond Week here on Filosofa’s Word, and once it ended, David commented that now perhaps we could get back to some Smokey Robinson and some Gladys Knight!  I’m more than happy to oblige on those two, so let’s start with this gem from Smokey Robinson. 

One thing I learned from readers’ comments when I last played this back in October 2020 was that this version by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, recorded in 1965, didn’t really get much air time until two years later when white artist Johnny Rivers recorded it.  That, my friends, is unconscionable.  Mind you, Rivers version is also good, but the fact that it took a white artist to bring the song into the public eye is wrong … just wrong.  Ten years after Smokey’s original release, Linda Ronstadt also recorded it and it did fairly well, coming in at #2 in Canada, #42 in the UK, and #25 in the U.S.

Miracles leader Smokey Robinson came up with the concept when he was looking in the mirror one day, and thinking, What if a person would cry so much that you could see tracks of their tears in their face?

Miracles members Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore, and Marv Tarplin wrote this song. Robinson penned the lyrics; Tarplin, The Miracles’ guitarist, came up with the riff. Robinson recalled: “‘Tracks of My Tears’ was actually started by Marv Tarplin, who is a young cat who plays guitar for our act. So he had this musical thing [sings melody], you know, and we worked around with it, and worked around, and it became ‘Tracks of My Tears.'”

Robinson had the music Tarplin wrote on a cassette, but it took him about six months to write the lyrics. The words started coming together when he came up with the line, “Take a good look at my face, you see my smile looks out of place.” From there, it was a few days before he got the lines, “If you look closer it’s easy to trace… my tears.”

What to do with those tears was a problem, as he wanted to say something no one has said about tears.

“One day I was listening, and it just came – the tracks of my tears.  Like footprints on my face. So that was what I wrote about.”

This charted at #9 in the UK and #16 in the U.S.

The Tracks of My Tears
The Miracles

People say I’m the life of the party
‘Cause I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I’m blue

So take a good look at my face
You know my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

I need you
Need you

Since you left me if you see me with another girl
Looking like I’m having fun
Although she may be cute, she’s just a substitute
‘Cause you’re the permanent one

So take a good look at my face
You know my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

Outside I’m masquerading
Inside my hope is fading
I’m just a clown since you put me down
My smile is my make up
I wear since my break-up with you

Baby, take a good look at my face
You know my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

Songwriters: Marvin Tarplin / Smokey Robinson / Warren Moore / William Robinson Jr.
The Tracks of My Tears lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

30 thoughts on “♫ The Tracks Of My Tears ♫ (Redux)

  1. This song (the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles version) is one of my all time favorites. My girlfriend had just broken up with me and I tried to put on a brave and happy face for all of my friends, but deep down inside, my heart was breaking. I really related to this song.

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  2. In 1965 black artists got very little airplay in Canada. Just a fact, not a judgment. It took calling in to radio station request lines to bring black artists to the fore. Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, The Supremes all became big, but for some reason it took longer for Sam Cooke and Smoky Robinson to catch on, despite the fact their songs were being covered by many British Invasion bands.
    Whether it was racist on the part of radio stations I cannot say, but it was fact.

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    • Hmmmm … I find it strange, too, that the female Black artists seemed to be accepted before the males. Odd that. I have no doubt that the reason the Black artists got less air time was racism, but then I tend to be uber-suspicious of late.


      • The word “racist” in Canada tended to be applied to hating Red people more than Black people in Canada, at least at that time. But as l grew older, and more aware, it was just that Red overshadowed Black and Yellow. And then when there was an influx of Brown people, the truth began to come out. Then along came Trump, and we found out jow many racists there really are in Canada. And while they are not in the majority, there are far more than we ever knew.
        Where I lived as a kid, there were all colours of people, and all religions represented, so I thought that was normal. I cannot believe how naive I was.

        Liked by 1 person

        • ‘Tis a sad state of affairs that racism even exists, whether against Indigenous People, Black people, Jews, or whomever. Like yours, this country learned just how large a portion of the nation was racist when Trump came onto the scene and said, basically, “Hey, it’s okay to be racist, to hate ‘other’!” In your country and mine, they came slithering out from under the rocks of political correctness where they had been hiding, for now they believed it was ‘okay’ and that they would not be subject to ridicule … or worse. Yes, my friend, we were all naive at the time … that’s what childhood is … you start with a clean slate and add experiences to it, and eventually you become an adult with a full slate and still not understanding a damn thing. Sigh.


          • Understanding isn’t that hard, I don’t think. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the different. But teaching it to children who have no experience and trust the authorities in their lives, that is a crime against humanity!

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            • Then perhaps I’m a bit of a slow-learner, for I don’t understand it … don’t understand fearing someone simply because of the colour of their skin or the church they attend (or don’t), or who they choose to love. To me, that makes them more interesting, for we can exchange ideas and learn from each other. Who wants to live in a homogeneous world where everyone looks, acts, and thinks alike? Not me, thank you.


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