Song of the Day #310: ‘Tracks of My Tears’ – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

smokeyRecently I discovered that DirecTV has signed me up for free Showtime. Apparently this is something they do as an anniversary gift to subscribers who’ve been with them for a certain number of years. If they alerted me to it, I missed the note. And I have no idea how long I’ll have it.

I discovered this because my DVR, which I’ve set to record any program that mentions “Elvis Costello,” suddenly recorded his music/talk show Spectacle, which airs on The Sundance Channel (Sundance is part of the Showtime bundle). This was great news because I’ve been dying to watch the show, in which Elvis interviews his favorite songwriters and then performs with them.

The first (and so far only) episode I’ve recorded featured Smokey Robinson and it was a delight. He told wonderful tales about the early days of Motown and the Apollo Theater and was incredibly gracious in praising the men and women who influenced his work and made his career possible. The sheer volume and quality of songs that man has written and performed is astounding.

Following the show, I went immediately to the computer to seek out some of those great tunes. To my delight, I discovered that the YouTube fascism that has ripped so many songs from the Web has not (yet?) slithered into Motown. YouTube is a treasure trove of fantastic songs from the era.

So I hereby announce a new running feature on this site: Motown Weekends. I’ll highlight two Motown favorites every weekend until I run out. To start, I’ve chosen my favorite Motown song of the ones I know well, Smokey’s own ‘Tracks of My Tears.’ Enjoy.

People say I’m the life of the party
Because I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I’m blue

So 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
I need you, need you

Since you left me if you see me with another girl
Seeming like I’m having fun
Although she may be cute
She’s just a substitute
Because you’re the permanent one

So 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
I need you, need you

Outside I’m masquerading
Inside my hope is fading
Just a clown oh yeah
Since you put me down
My smile is my make up
I wear since my break up with you

So 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

7 thoughts on “Song of the Day #310: ‘Tracks of My Tears’ – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

  1. Amy says:

    You had to know this was coming ๐Ÿ™‚ The definitive moment when Adam became ADAM!

  2. Amy says:

    let’s see if this one works better ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Amy says:

    That’s better. Now….

    one of the funnier moments in this episode of Idol, for which Smokey served as mentor, was when Adam (who had chosen to perform this song before he knew Smokey would be the mentor) earnestly asked him what has inspired the lyrics. What he got was a very literal description of the way tears leave tracks on one’s face. The gentleman Adam is, he, of course, appeared fascinated.

    My beloved Slezak got to write about it the next morning:
    “My only other regret about ”Tracks of My Tears” was that Smokey missed the point of Adam’s question (”What inspired you to write [the song]?”) and gave an extremely literal explanation of what the song’s chorus means : ”I thought about ‘What if a person had cried so much until if you got really close up to them and looked in their face you could see that their tears had left tracks in their face?”’ Um, alrighty then!”

    Oh, how I shall miss my Michael Slezak fix for the next several months. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Anyway, I look forward to Motown weekends and will likely have at least nine other Idol performances from Motown week to share in the comments section ๐Ÿ™‚ (though I’ll certainly leave out those Idols I don’t like ;P)

  4. Amy says:

    Dana is upset that the version I put up is of such poor quality that he feels it does not do justice to Adam’s performance ๐Ÿ™‚ I think you can get the idea from the only performance video that is easily able to be embedded. One thing that upset me was that Motown made the contestants use the original instumentation for their studio versions. So the cool interpretations Adam and Kris did that week can only be appreciated by seeing the live performance. If you were to download the iTune recording, you’d get their vocals over the original music

    I’m guessing this was the way Motown insured its original session players got Idol royalites? If so, it’s good they have their back. Still, I wish the Idol machine could have come up with an alternative, as hearing songs reimagined is one of the more rewarding parts (next to reading Michael Slezak and getting to discover Jason Castro) of watching American Idol in the first place.

    Regardless, Adam slays (in a positive way, Heather ;P) any version of this song.

  5. Clay says:

    That’s hilarious (Smokey’s literal explanation, that is). Did you see him on Spectacle? He was much more forthcoming.

    Nice version… that second clip is hard to tell from the original, in a good way.

    Maybe it’s the grainy video, but he looks oddly like Christian Bale in that top clip. I’m waiting for the expletive-laced tirade!

  6. pegclifton says:

    I really enjoyed Adam’s version of the song. He has a great voice. I’m looking forward to Motown weekends!

  7. Dana says:

    I’m about half way through that Spectacle show with Smokey. Good stuff, and it amazing how many songs he has written for other artists. I mean, My Girl? Come on!

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