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RS500 and some seriously awesome Motown and Oldies

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:38 am

I’ve been leafing through the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs list and I might post another time about how the list is dumb and how it could be better, what I’d put on it, etc, but it’s also got me listening to some songs I haven’t heard for a while.

Particularly some Sam Cooke stuff (“Dream Lover” and “Chain Gang” are just classic), Marvin Gaye (“Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” is a great song), Ronettes (“Be my Baby,” classic Phil Spector), Chuck Berry (“Maybellene,” the recording is crap and the verses are throwaway but the chorus makes it worth the listen), and Ray Charles (“What I’d Say,” I can’t get over the sounds from the keyboard and the band (and that crazy breakdown) in this recording).

But the most astounding track that I’m listening-to-again-for-the-first-time is “Tracks of my Tears” by Smokey Robinson. Dylan may have written world-changing protest songs and the Beatles sold a trillion records, including some that had meaningful songs, but I don’t think I’ve heard another song from that era with as much tortured-soul emotion in it. What gets me is that it’s more than just the song. Songs that really get me now (for example, “You will miss me when I burn” by Palace Brothers and “Sodom, South Georgia” by Iron & Wine) are delivered pretty flatly; the singer’s voice may crack or be whispered or whatever, but Smokey’s voice is a wail, a cry. Other people could sing this song but in part it’s his voice that makes this song great.

2 Responses to “RS500 and some seriously awesome Motown and Oldies”

  1. ipickmynose: an SF-centric indie music blog » top 10 songs in 60 seconds, no cheating Says:

    […] Smokey Robinson & the Miracles “Tracks of My Tears” I heard this song again for the first time a couple years ago and I’ve been in love with it since. As I said then: “I don’t […]

  2. ipickmynose: an SF-centric indie music blog » Henry Lumpkin - “Don’t Leave Me” and anguish in soul songs Says:

    […] Tracks of My Tears” is another example where the singer puts across pure anguish. What still gets me about it is that Smokey Robinson’s voice is a pure cry, a wail. It’s anguish in […]

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