This past week, the Library of Congress recognized Smokey Robinson as the winner of this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Smokey Robinson is probably most remembered as being the leader of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Hits for The Miracles included “Shop Around,” “Going to a Go-Go,” and “Tracks of My Tears.” Robinson also wrote songs for other acts, like The Temptations, The Marvelettes, and Marvin Gaye.
Smokey Robinson was born in Detroit in 1940. Growing up, he had performed in a Doo Wop group named the Five Chimes – an early group that would later evolve into The Miracles. In 1959, a few personnel and name changes later, The Miracles were signed by Tamla Records, a label later incorporated into Motown, making them Motown’s first signed artist or group. Just a short year later in 1960, The Miracles provided the label with their first million-selling hit, “Shop Around.” From that point forward, it would seem, Smokey Robinson was unstoppable—in both his hits with The Miracles, but also in his prolific and uncanny songwriting ability. Robinson soon became integral to Motown, as he penned numerous hits for other groups signed to the Motown label, and also acted as Vice President.
Clearly, Smokey Robinson’s contribution to American popular music is huge, and his talent as a songwriter has stood the test of time—his songs sound as fresh today as they did over 50 years ago.
Luckily, for those Smokey Robinson and Motown fans, we have just the book for you!
A few months ago, my colleague wrote a blog post about a new acquisition, the Motown: 50th Anniversary Songbook (BRM36141), which contains 100 hits spanning Motown’s Best Years. It is six volumes of braille and includes voice (words), melody, and chords. Now it is available in the collection for download from BARD and in hard copies. In this collection alone, Smokey Robinson has written or co-written 13 songs, nine of which were hits for The Miracles. There are also a few songs that Robinson wrote for other groups, such as the number-one hit “My Guy” by Mary Wells. The anthology also includes “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” and “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” all by The Temptations. The song “My Girl” is also available in audio instruction for the guitar (DBM03124).
There are also nine songs written by Smokey Robinson for The Miracles, including “Cruisin’,” “Going To A Go-Go,” “I Second That Emotion,” “More Love,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “Shop Around,” “The Tears Of A Clown,” “The Tracks Of My Tears,” and “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me.”
I don’t know about you, but to me, summertime is the best time for Motown—and no one did Motown better than Smokey Robinson!
Please contact the Music Section if you would like to learn more about this material.