Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY7:49 p.m. EST January 28, 2014
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Motown legend Smokey Robinsonis known for signing or writing some of the greatest songs of all time, including “My Girl,” “Shop Around,” “Tears of a Clown,” and “I Second That Emotion,” but it’s “The Tracks of My Tears” that is arguably his greatest composition.
The song, co-written with Marv Tarplin, is listed at No. 50 on Rolling Stone’s chart of the 500 greatest songs of all time, and has been covered by artists as diverse as Linda Rondstat, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton.
We met up with Robinson recently at the National Association of Music Merchants convention here, where he was awarded the coveted “Music for Life” award, and asked him about songwriting. He recalled how he came up with the lyrics to “Tears,” while shaving. Watch the accompanying video for more.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Legendary Motown singer/composer Smokey Robinson thinks texting, Facebook and Twitter have a real hold on young people. “Social media is out of hand,” he told us recently at the National Association of Music Merchants convention here, where he was awarded the “Music for Life” award.
“Social media is running rampant,” he says. “We could get to the point where without those phones or iPads or whatever kids are texting or typing on, they (young people) won’t even know how to communicate, how to sit down and have a conversation with each other verbally.”
Robinson, who either wrote or co-wrote such classics as My Girl, Tracks of My Tears, Shop Around and I Second That Emotion for both Motown performers and Robinson and the Miracles, does say he’s comfortable with technology. His Windows Phone is his lifeline, and he’s all over Facebook and Twitter himself. But that’s just for professional reasons, as he explained to us in our NAMM interview.
With more than 300,000 likes on Facebook and nearly 75,000 followers on Twitter, he doesn’t check in or talk about his favorite spots. “I don’t want someone to know I’m sitting at such and such restaurant. That could be dangerous. Or see people Twittering that we’re going on a vacation — that lets your house turn into prey. I don’t believe in it.”
He does post photos from awards shows like the Grammys, TV appearances and plugs for upcoming dates. ”I want them to know where I’m playing.”
“I’m in the entertainment business. I have to be visible. I want people to know I’m still in the entertainment business. I’m not sure I’d do it if I wasn’t in show business.”
LIVING WITH A SMARTPHONE
“The phone has become our lives.” He has recorded new melodies and lyrics while driving by singing them directly into his phone. “If I’m in the car and get a great idea for a song, I can call my voice mail and sing it.”
Before this, “You’d lose them, no way to put them down immediately.”
LISTENING TO MUSIC ONLINE
He still prefers CDs over MP3s. ”I’m still a buyer, and like having the music in my possession on a disc.”
WRITING SONGS WITH TECHNOLOGY
He doesn’t collaborate on writing by e-mail (“I’m old-fashioned. I’m at the piano.”) but he is using remote tech tools for his new upcoming album of duets. Some singers are too busy to get to the studio, so he’s having them record their parts and send them in.
“My preference would be to be in the studio with them, but you have to roll with the punches. It’s wonderful to get their voices any way you can.”
Jhaton Robinson Posted January 23, 2014 www.vibe.com
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) honored Motown legend Smokey Robinson with the Music for Life award. NAMM recognized Robinson for his five decades in music and as one of the founders of the Motown movement.
“So much of what we at NAMM stand for is exemplified in the career and life of the legendary Smokey Robinson,” said NAMM president and CEO Joe Lammond. “His influence on musicians, producers, writers and even sound engineers continues to be profoundly felt today. He is a symbol of creativity and a beacon of inspiration to many. His music is authentic and emotionally real, and it is his ability to touch so many people with this talent that makes Smokey Robinson a true ambassador for music.”
Robinson will release a duets LP in 2014, which will feature him singing his own tracks alongside an all-star duet partner.