This Motown group consisted of William "Smokey" Robinson, his wife Claudette, Bobby Rogers, Warren "Pete" Moore, and Ronnie White. At first the group was just called the Miracles, but in 1965 the name was changed to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Smokey wrote songs not only for the Miracles but also for other Motown acts, including Mary Wells and the Temptations; some of the Miracles co-wrote songs with him. Smokey also served as a producer and as vice president of Motown Records. After 1962 Claudette stopped touring with the rest of the group, but she still sang backup in the studio until Smokey left the Miracles in 1972. He retired for a year, then started a solo career. Meanwhile, the Miracles, led by Billy Griffin, had several hits including "Love Machine." Smokey continues to enjoy success as a solo artist; this list includes five of his solo songs. In 1986 Smokey and Claudette divorced, and in 1995 Ronnie died of leukemia. The surviving Miracles continue to perform together.
(You Can) Depend On Me (3:03) - The narrator tells the girl she can depend on him for comfort and reassurance when life becomes unbearable for her. The slow tempo is an apt match for such a theme. Mary Wells also sang a version of this song.
Shop Around (original version 3:01; hit version 2:45) - The original version starts off slow, then after the first four lines accelerates to moderate. The hit version is slightly faster. Also, some lyrics trade places when one version is played after the other. The narrator has just reached adulthood, so his mother advises him to be careful how he selects a bride. Smokey may not have intended this song as a moral lesson, but with nearly half of all marriages in the United States ending in divorce nowadays, parents could use this song as a tool to teach their children not to rush into marriage.
I'll Try Something New (2:36) - The narrator will do anything to make his girlfriend happy; if one thing doesn't please her, he'll try another, and another, and another until she's satisfied. The tempo is moderate. In the first several measures I hear a harp. This version is good, but I love the slower version by the Temptations with Diana Ross and the Supremes.
You Really Got A Hold On Me (2:58) - According to Smokey, the Sam Cooke song "Bring It On Home To Me" inspired him to write this song. The two songs do seem distantly related musically. The use of paradox in this song blows my mind: "I don't like you, but I love you," "I don't want you, but I need you / Don't wanna kiss you, but I need to." Although his girlfriend treats him bad, he just can't break away from her. The tempo is slow. The drums sound out the quarter beats while the piano plays in 12/8 time. This song was later covered by the Beatles and by country singer Mickey Gilley.
Mickey's Monkey (2:46) - This song, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland, Jr., is one of two songs listed here that were not written or co-written by Smokey. The song was named after William "Mickey" Stevenson, another Motown producer. At the start, Smokey shouts, "All right, is everybody ready!" Everyone else replies with yeas and clapping. Then Smokey counts and the song starts. Mind-blowers in this song include the fast tempo, the sax, and most of all, the words "lum de lum de lie."
Ooo Baby Baby (2:43) - The tempo is slow, in 12/8 time, with every second and fourth quarter beat accented. The narrator is sad because he had been untrue to his girlfriend and now he's lost her. Another version of this song was a hit for Linda Ronstadt.
The Tracks Of My Tears (2:54) - Now that the narrator's girlfriend has left him, he appears to be happy, but his heart is crying. The tempo is slow, with a tambourine accenting every even-numbered beat. This song was also a hit for Johnny Rivers and for Linda Ronstadt.
More Love (2:48) - The tempo is moderate. For the first 8 seconds, the drums and piano play softly; then the violin and backup vocals enter; finally at 0:18, enter Smokey and the tambourine. Smokey wrote this song for Claudette after she miscarried twins; he asks her to open her heart so he can fill it with "more love, more joy," enough to last for eternity.
I Second That Emotion (2:46) - My favorite song by Smokey and the Miracles. In this song and the next three, if you turn the balance knob all the way toward one channel (or unplug one speaker), you can hear Smokey but not the other Miracles; you can also hear some instruments but not others. The narrator is afraid that all the girl might want from him is a one-night-stand; if that is the case, he will not fall for her. But if she wants to give him love for the rest of his life, then he will accept it.
If You Can Want (2:43) - This is a good song, too. I couldn't agree more with the narrator that one who can want can also need, care, and love. He tells the girl that when she starts to want, need, care about, and love him, he will be there for her. The tempo is moderate, with every even-numbered beat accented.
Baby Baby Don't Cry (4:02) - In the previous two songs, the left channel was the one in which you could hear only Smokey; in this song and the next it's the right channel. The girl has been hurt by her most recent lover; the narrator urges her to stop crying and accept his love. The tempo is slow; again the second and fourth beats are louder than the first and third. I like the opening piano solo. Before each verse Smokey speaks two lines.
Doggone Right (2:57) - When the narrator feels down, the girl cheers him up. He promises her that if she were to accept his love he would be forever true to her; he uses the title to tell her he's positive. The tempo is a bit faster than in the previous song. The most interesting instrument is the one that sounds distantly related to a door creaking or a duck quacking; I have no idea what name that instrument has.
Abraham, Martin, and John (3:01) - Written by Dick Holler, this is the other song in this list not written or co-written by Smokey. The tempo is very slow for the first 37 seconds, with no drums. Then it becomes fast, with the drums emphasizing every second and fourth beat. Finally, at 2:34, it slows back down, and the song ends with rolls of drums and other instruments. This song was previously sung by Dion.
The Tears Of A Clown (2:59) - The group had plenty of Top Ten hits, but this song was their only #1. The tempo is moderately fast, and the instruments (including a bassoon) paint a picture of a circus. As in "The Tracks Of My Tears," the narrator is a happy clown in the public's eye, but in private he cries over the girl who has left him.
I Don't Blame You At All (3:10) - Apparently the narrator and the girl in this song had an affair, and he doesn't blame her for breaking it off. He is now paying the price for pursuing a paradise that turned out to be "hurt in disguise"; an adulterous relationship could certainly qualify as such. Musically speaking, the bell-like instrument is my favorite feature.
Baby That's Backatcha (3:40) - The tempo is moderate. I like how the flute plays, especially in the first 8 seconds. I also like the barely audible ending drum roll. One interesting lyric is: "If I could make it possible for the impossible to happen . . ." Listen closely, & you'll understand the rest.
Quiet Storm (3:58) - In the first few seconds of this slow, I hear the sound effect of a gentle breeze blowing. During the instrumentals I hear either a flute or a piccolo. In the first verse the narrator describes the storm as "quiet as flowers talking at break of dawn." Of course, flowers don't really talk. Perhaps the storm is too quiet to be easily noticed.
Cruisin' (4:27) - This song is slow also. It is quiet at first, but from the 1-minute mark on it is louder. According to Smokey, he was inspired to write this song after hearing the Rascals' "Groovin' " on his car radio one day. Although Smokey was driving when he was inspired, the couple in the song do NOT drive; they don't even leave the bedroom (or whatever place they choose for intimacy).
Being With You (4:07) - This song was released in 1981; I can tell it's an '80s song by the way the sax plays. Here's yet another song with a moderate tempo and accented second and fourth beats. The narrator doesn't care what other people think of him; all he does care about is being with the girl.
Back to My Oldies Homepage
Back to My Personal Homepage