Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Tracks of My Tears

Berry Gordy met Smokey Robinson in the summer of 1957, and during a drive from Detroit to Flint, Michigan several years later, Robinson convinced Gordy that he might want to think about starting his own label. Following the founding of Motown, Robinson became one of its most essential employees, producing and writing several of its most memorable hits — including "My Girl" (The Temptations), "Ain't That Peculiar" (Marvin Gaye), "My Guy" (Mary Wells), and many more for his group The Miracles.

But it was this song that might be his greatest achievement. Listen to that plaintive opening guitar lead into Smokey's near falsetto, then follow him to the heartbreaking chorus ("Take a good look at my face/You'll see my smile looks out of place/If you look closer it's easy to trace/The tracks of my tears) — near perfection. And look at how smooth Smokey looks here. It's hard to believe it was him getting his heart broken, and not vice-versa.