♫ I Second That Emotion ♫

Just one more Motown and then I’ll switch to something else, I promise!  This one was sort of a request after I played My Girl on Saturday night, and since after hearing it mentioned it has been bouncing about in my head, I figured I needed to exorcise it from my mind, and at the same time, give our friend David something to tap his toes to!

As Robinson recalls in his 1989 autobiography, he and Motown producer Al Cleveland went to a Detroit department store called Hudson’s to do Christmas shopping in December 1967. Smokey’s wife, Claudette, had recently given birth to twins that didn’t survive the premature birth, and he was looking to get her a gift.

As Robinson recalls in his 1989 autobiography, he and Cleveland went to a Detroit department store called Hudson’s to do Christmas shopping in December 1967. Smokey’s wife, Claudette, had recently given birth to twins that didn’t survive the premature birth, and he was looking to get her a gift.

This was the first Top 10 hit for the group after their 1967 name change from The Miracles. Robinson and Cleveland teamed up to write several more hits for the group, including Special Occasion (#26 US, 1968), Yester Love (#31 US, 1968), and Baby, Baby Don’t Cry (#8 US, 1969).

I Second That Emotion
The Miracles

Maybe you’ll wanna give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat.
And maybe you’ll go away and never call,
And a taste of honey is worse that none at all.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.

So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.
Maybe you’ll think that love will tie you down
And you don’t have the time to hang around.
Or maybe you’ll think that love will make us fools,
And so it makes you wise to break the rules.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.

So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.
In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Songwriters: Alfred Cleveland / William Robinson Jr.
I Second That Emotion lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ My Guy ♫

On Saturday night, I played My Girl by the Temptations, and it only seemed natural to follow it with My Guy by Mary Wells, right?  So, on Sunday night I started working on a post featuring that song, but not having slept much the night before, I kept falling asleep.  Finally, I looked at what I had written, realized it was gibberish and I didn’t even have the embed code right, so I gave up and went to bed.  Let us try this once again …

Mary Wells’ smash hit My Guy was her last solo recording for Motown. The first female star for the record label and known as “the Queen of Motown”, she also became the first to dare to leave when 20th Century Fox wooed her with a $200,000 advance and potential movie roles. She officially left in 1965.

Mary Wells’ fellow Motown star, Smokey Robinson, wrote and produced this song. Robinson helped Berry Gordy form Motown Records after they realized how little they were paid by the labels that distributed their songs. In addition to fronting the legendary group The Miracles, Robinson also wrote and produced many of the label’s early numbers, including other Wells hits like The One Who Really Loves You, You Beat Me to the Punch and Two Lovers.

My Guy was the defining hit of Mary Wells’ career, but it was also memorable as Motown’s first British hit. When it was reissued in the UK and went to #14 in 1972, it brought a renewed interest in Wells. Although she had no problem performing her old numbers for her fans, the singer longed to make a name for herself apart from her Motown roots.

Unfortunately, the mainstream public wasn’t digging Wells’ new sound and, although she would re-emerge from retirement in the 1980s, she never regained the success that made her the “Queen of Motown.”

In 1990, Wells recorded an album for Ian Levine’s Motorcity Records, but her voice began to fail, prompting her to visit a local hospital. Doctors diagnosed Wells with laryngeal cancer. Treatments for the disease ravaged her voice, forcing her to quit her music career. Since she had no health insurance, her illness wiped out her finances, forcing her to sell her home. As she struggled to continue treatment, old Motown friends, including Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, members of the Temptations and Martha Reeves, made donations to support her, along with the help of admirers such as Dionne Warwick, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt.

That same year, a benefit concert was held by fellow fan and Detroit R&B singer Anita Baker. Wells was also given a tribute by friends such as Stevie Wonder and Little Richard on The Joan Rivers Show.

In the summer of 1992, Wells’s cancer returned and she was rushed to the Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital in Los Angeles with pneumonia. With the effects of her unsuccessful treatments and a weakened immune system, Wells died on July 26, 1992, at the age of 49.  Smokey Robinson performed a softer rendition of this song when he delivered the eulogy at Mary Wells’ memorial service in 1992.

My Guy
Mary Wells

Nothing you could say could tear me away from my guy,
(My guy)
Nothing you could do ’cause I’m stuck like glue to my guy.
(My guy)
I’m sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter,
Like birds of a feather we stick together,
I’m tellin’ you from the start I can’t be torn apart from my guy.

Nothing you could do could make me untrue to my guy,
(My guy)
Nothing you could buy could make me tell a lie to my guy.
(My guy)
I gave my guy my word of honor to be faithful, and I’m gonna,
You best be believing I won’t be deceiving my guy.

As a matter of opinion I think he’s tops,
My opinion is he’s the cream of the crop;
As a matter of taste to be exact he’s my ideal as a matter of fact.

No muscle-bound man could take my hand from my guy.
(My guy)
No handsome face could ever take the place of my guy.
(My guy)
He may not be a movie star, but when it comes to bein’ happy we are.
There’s not a man today who could take me away from my guy.

No muscle-bound man could take my hand from my guy.
(My guy)
No handsome face could ever take the place of my guy.
(My guy)
He may not be a movie star, but when it comes to bein’ happy we are.
There’s not a man today who could take me away from my guy.
(What you say, Tell me more)

No muscle-bound man could take my hand from my guy.
(My guy)
No handsome face could ever take the place of my guy.
(My guy)
He may not be a movie star, but when it comes to bein’ happy we are.

Songwriters: Ronald White / Smokey Robinson
My Guy lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ My Girl ♫

A couple of weeks ago, I played Nightshift by the Commodores, and in comments, my friend Cheryl, aka Calensariel, mentioned that her favourite Motown song was My Girl, by the Temptations.  And … since I always aim to please my friends, this one’s for you, dear friend!

This was written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, who were both members of The Miracles. Robinson wrote the lyrics – he was married at the time to his first wife, Claudette (they were wed from 1957-1986), but Smokey said that the song is not about a specific girl, but “written with all the women in the world in mind.”

This song was written in the Apollo Theater when The Temptations were playing as part of a package tour with The Miracles. According to Robinson, he was working out the song on a piano at the theater when his bandmate Ronald White joined him and they hashed out the song. When The Temptations heard it, they convinced Robinson to let them record it instead of The Miracles. Robinson, who was Berry Gordy’s right-hand man at Motown agreed, and rehearsed the song with The Temptations over the next week. When they returned to Detroit, Robinson and White produced the session on December 21, 1964 when they recorded this song.

The previous year, Robinson wrote My Guy for Motown singer Mary Wells. That song carried the same sentiment of unconditional love, but from a female perspective. Hmmmm … I’ll have to play that one soon, for it’s great, too!  Somebody remind me, for we all know that my memory is gone!

This was the first of four US #1 hits for The Temptations. It was also the first #1 for a male vocal group on the Motown label.  The Temptations were a groundbreaking act in terms of choreography, doing precise movements to accentuate their songs. This one used big, expressive gestures that became widely associated with the song – it was not uncommon to see people doing the moves while listening to it. The Motown choreographer was a dancer named Cholly Atkins.

One thing I didn’t know is that Mr. ‘Sittin’-on-the-Dock-of-the-Bay’ Otis Redding had also done this song.  Now, I love Otis, and I was prepared to offer his rendition up as a second tonight, but after I listened to about 30 seconds of it, I said … “Nah, sorry Otis, you flubbed this one”.  Nobody can do everything well, and he will always have my heart on Dock o’ the Bay!

My Girl
The Temptations

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day
When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May
Well I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl)

I’ve got so much honey the bees envy me
I’ve got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees
Well I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl ooh)

Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey
Ooh yeah

I don’t need no money, fortune, or fame (ooh hey hey hey)
I’ve got all the riches baby one man can claim (oh yes I do)
I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl)

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day
With my girl (My girl)
(Talkin’ ’bout my girl my girl) I’ve even got the month of May
With my girl (My girl, woah)
She’s all I can think (my girl)
(Talkin’ ’bout my girl my girl)
Talkin’ ’bout, talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl, woah)

Songwriters: William Smokey Robinson / Ronald White
My Girl lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

♫ Tears Of A Clown ♫

I find that when I am disturbed or sad, I turn to Motown.  I suppose I have always done so, or for many years anyway, but I only noticed it since I started doing these music posts.  Tonight I am still suffering the after effects from the afternoon post I did, the one titled Darkness, that took every bit of the wind out of my sails.  And so, I turn once again to one of my favourite Motown groups, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

I always learn something new when I research the background of the songs I play here, and tonight I learned that Tears of a Clown was written by Hank Cosby, Smokey Robinson, and Stevie Wonder!  I had no idea Stevie Wonder had a role in it.  I also had no idea that it was based on the Italian opera Pagliacci, which is about a clown who must make the audience laugh while he weeps behind his makeup because his wife betrayed him.

Stevie Wonder came up with the music for this song with Motown producer Hank Cosby. They recorded an instrumental demo and asked Robinson to complete the song – it was common practice for Motown writers to work on each other’s songs at the time.

Robinson listened to the song for a few days and decided it sounded like a circus – he came up with the lyrics based on the clown …

“I was trying to think of something that would be significant, that would touch people’s hearts, but still be dealing with the circus.  So what is that? Pagliacci, of course. The clown who cries. And after he makes everyone else happy with the smile painted on his face, then he goes into his dressing room and cries because he’s sad. That was the key.”

First released in 1967, this one was a hit on both sides of the pond, and reached the #1 slot in both the U.S. and UK, though Smokey had not had much luck in the UK up to that point.

Tears of a Clown
The Miracles

Oh yeah yeah yeah
Now if there’s a smile on my face
It’s only there trying to fool the public
But when it comes down to fooling you
Now honey that’s quite a different subject

But don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Really I’m sad, oh I’m sadder than sad
You’re gone and I’m hurting so bad
Like a clown I appear to be glad (sad, sad, sad, sad)

Now they’re some sad things known to man
But ain’t too much sadder than
The tears of a clown when there’s no one around, uh
Oh yeah, baby

Now if I appear to be carefree
It’s only to camouflage my sadness
And honey to shield my pride I try
To cover this hurt with a show of gladness
But don’t let my show convince you
That I’ve been happy since you
‘Cause I had to go (why did you go), oh I need you so (I need you so)
Look I’m hurt and I want you to know (want you to know)
For others I put on a show (it’s just a show)

Now they’re some sad things known to man
But ain’t too much sadder than
The tears of a clown when there’s no one around, uh
Just like Pagliacci did
I try to keep my surface hid
Smiling in the crowd I try
But in my lonely room I cry
The tears of a clown
When there’s no one around, oh yeah, baby
Now if there’s a smile on my face
Don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Don’t let this smile I wear
Make you think that I don’t care
‘Cause really I’m sad

Songwriters: William Jr. Robinson / Stevie Wonder / Henry Cosby
Tears of a Clown lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ The Tracks Of My Tears ♫

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.”

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

♫ Just To See Her ♫

I haven’t posted a song for a couple of days … not because there was no song in my heart, but simply because I save this pleasure for the end of the day, when the comments are all answered, morning post written & scheduled, family finances taken care of … and the past two nights I have simply been too exhausted to do a music post.  Tonight, though, I am ahead of the game and that soul music is calling to me.  Actually, this one is classified R&B (rhythm & blues), but I still think of it as soul, as music that reaches deep down and pulls out something we may have forgotten existed.

The song written by Jimmy George and Lou Pardini in 1987 and recorded by none other than Smokey Robinson.  Smokey was in a bit of a funk … well, more than a bit, actually … at the time.  His last big hit had been Being With You in 1981, and then in 1984, his friend Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his own father.  Robinson was already addicted to drugs, and Gaye’s death just put the final straw on the camel’s back.  Then in 1986, he and his wife Claudette divorced.  But this record put him back on top.  Surprisingly, Robinson’s only Grammy win came for this song; he won for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male.

Jimmy George and Lou Pardini would go on to join the band Chicago in 2009.

Apropos of nothing, but I found Smokey’s explanation of how he came by his name fascinating:

Smokey-4“My Uncle Claude was my favorite uncle, he was also my godfather. He and I were really, really close. He used to take me to see cowboy movies all the time when I was a little boy because I loved cowboy movies. He got a cowboy name for me, which was Smokey Joe. So from the time I was three years old if people asked me what my name was I didn’t tell them my name was William, I told them my name was Smokey Joe. That’s what everyone called me until I was about 12 and then I dropped the Joe part. I’ve heard that story about him giving it to me because I’m a light skinned Black man but that’s not true.”

Just to See Her
Smokey Robinson

Just to see her
Just to touch her
Just to hold her in my arms again one more time

If I could feel her warm embrace
See her smiling face
Can’t find anyone to take her place
I’ve got to see her again

I would do anything
I would go anywhere
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do
Just to see her again

I can’t hide it no
I can’t fight it
It’s so hard to live without the love she gave to me

Doesn’t she know it
I tried hard not to show it
Can’t I make her realize that she really needs me again

I would do anything
I would go anywhere
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do
Just to see her again
She brightened up my everyday
Made me feel so good in every way
If I could have her back to stay
I’ve got to see her again

I want to see her
(Just to see her)
Hold her hold her hold her
(Just to see her) see her
Just to touch her

Touch her
I would do anything
I would go anywhere
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do
Just to see her again
She brightened up my everyday
Makes me feel so good in every way
If I could have her back to stay (today)
I’ve got to see her again

it would it would it would
(Just to see her) make me feel so good
(Just to see her)if I if I could only see her again
Just see her again
Just to see her theres nothin’ I wouldn’t do
Just to see her oh don’t you know its true
Just to see her (if I could only see her again oh)

Songwriters: Jimmy George / Louis Joseph Pardini
Just to See Her lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ You Really Got A Hold On Me ♫

Tonight’s song is either going to take you back … way back … else leave you scratching your head and saying, ‘huh?’  Go back, if you can, to 1962.  I was eleven … how old were you?  In ’62, the Beatles, the Stones, and the Turtles weren’t yet around, and the sound of the day, at least for most of us, was Motown.  And there was none better than Smokey Robinson and his Miracles.

Smokey wrote and produced this one that was released in November 1962 under the Motown Tamla label.  It zoomed to #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart in the U.S.  It has been featured in at least 12 films and a television special,  Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever.  

Smokey Robinson said he was thinking about Sam Cooke’s Bring it on Home to Me (another great one, in my book) when he got the idea for this song.  Cooke’s song finds the singer apologizing to his girl after casting her off, promising to treat her right if she comes back. You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me is the same sentiment but with the roles reversed: the girl mistreats the guy, but he loves her unconditionally.  Gender equality, even in the ’60s.

The Beatles recorded this in 1963 and performed it in their last movie, Let It Be. The Beatles were the first big British band to come to America and admit they were influenced by black music. Robinson admired this admission, and felt they helped black artists by covering their songs.

The quality of this video isn’t the best, but hey … it was 1962 … YouTube and digital photography hadn’t even been invented yet.  There are more recent versions, but I felt this one had the most authenticity.  And now I give you …

You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me
The Miracles

I don’t like you, but I love you,
Seems that I’m always thinking of you.
Oh, oh, oh, you treat me badly,
I love you madly, you really got a hold on me.
You really got a hold on me, baby,
I don’t want you, but I need you,
Don’t want to kiss you, but I need you.
Oh, oh, oh, you do me wrong now,
My love is strong now you really got a hold on me.

You really got a hold on me, baby,
I love you and all I want you to do is just hold me,
Hold me, hold me, hold me.

I want to leave you, don’t want to stay here
Don’t want to spend another day here.
Oh, oh, oh, I want to split now, I can’t Baby,
I love you and all I want you to do is just hold me,
Hold me, hold me, hold me.
You really got a hold on me.
You really got a hold on me.
You really got a hold on me.
You really got a hold on me.
You really got a hold on me.

Songwriters: William Robinson Jr.
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ What Becomes of the Brokenhearted ♫

This song was written by Motown writers Jimmy Dean, Paul Riser, and William Witherspoon. They wrote it for The Detroit Spinners, but Jimmy Ruffin convinced the Motown writers to let him try it, and they liked what they heard. Ruffin is the brother of The Temptations’ David Ruffin, by the way.  Smokey Robinson produced the track.

Now, while many artists recorded this song, including The Supremes, I have two favourites and I am torn between the two, so I’m interested in your opinions.  The first is the original by Jimmy Ruffin, released in 1966.  This version hit #6 in the US and #10 in the UK.

In 1992, Paul Young recorded the song and, while it didn’t do as well as the Ruffin version, I still like it.  What do you guys think?  The Jimmy Ruffin version …

Or the Paul Young …

What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted
Jimmy Ruffin/Paul Young

As I walk this land with broken dreams
I have visions of many things
But happiness is just an illusion
Filled with sadness and confusion
What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind
Maybe

The roots of love grow all around
But for me they come a-tumblin’ down
Every day heartaches grow a little stronger
I can’t stand this pain much longer
I walk in shadowsm searching for light
Cold and alone, no comfort in sight
Hoping and praying for someone to care
Always moving and goin’ nowhere
What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind
Help me

I’m searching, though I don’t succeed
But someone look, there’s a growing need
Oh, he is lost, there’s no place for beginning
All that’s left is an unhappy ending
Now, becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind

I’ll be searching everywhere
Just to find someone to care
I’ll be looking everyday, I know I’m gonna find a way
Nothing’s gonna stop me now
I’ll find a way somehow
And I’ll be searching everywhere
I know I gotta find a way
I’ll be looking

Songwriters: James Anthony Dean / Paul Riser / William Henry Witherspoonn
What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC