Smokey Robinson surging at 82, with biopic and 2 new albums pending: 'Retirement doesn't work for me!'

George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

There is a very sound reason Motown music legend Smokey Robinson doesn't perform "The Impossible Dream," the classic song of hope and self-affirmation from the 1965 Broadway musical, "Man of La Mancha."

"Being able to have a musical career was my impossible dream. I always wanted a musical career, but I didn't think I'd get it," said the 1987 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, who is also a 1990 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and the 2016 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoree.

The singularity of his career — first as a staff songwriter at Motown Records and the leader of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, then as a solo artist — has long been a matter of record. Or, as Paul McCartney once described Robinson's impact on the early Beatles: "Smokey Robinson was like God in our eyes."

The fabled English band often performed the Robinson-penned Miracles' classic "You Really Got a Hold On Me" and featured their version on "The Beatles' Second Album" in 1964.

Some of the many other gems Robinson wrote or co-wrote include The Temptations' "Get Ready" and "My Girl"; Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" and "I'll Be Doggone"; and Mary Wells' "My Guy" and "You Beat Me to the Punch." Among his other credits are The Marvelettes' "You Don't Mess With Bill" and "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game"; The Four Tops' "Still Water (Love)"; and The Contours' "First I Look at the Purse," in which the six-man vocal group declares in song that they have only one requirement for their ideal woman: money.

Then there's the slew of hits Robinson made with The Miracles that have been embraced by several generations of listeners. The list includes "The Tracks of My Tears," "I Second That Emotion," "Tears of a Clown," "Going to a Go Go" (which was later covered by the Rolling Stones) and "Ooh Baby Baby" (which in 1978 became a Top 10 hit for Linda Ronstadt).


2 new albums coming

"I always want to start with a good song," Robinson, a Detroit native, said.

"I was mentored by (Motown Records founder) Berry Gordy and he stressed the importance of always wanting to have a good song right at the start. I want to write songs that, if I'd written them 50 years before now, today, or 50 years from now, it will mean something to you. When I start to write a song, I hope it's a hit."

Robinson recently completed a new album that he hopes will be released later this year. He is two songs away from completing a Spanish-language album.


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