Saturday, March 27, 2010

Come 'Round Here (I'm the One You Need), Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (1966)

Now when you need the love he's never shown you - come round here
And when you need some loving arms to hold you - come round here
Now I may not be the one you want
But I know I'm the one you need

If I ever needed proof that music becomes a part of us, I confirmed it a few days ago when I was compiling a playlist for an upcoming Dance Dance Party Party event here in Akron. 

I sensed that a certain soul song from my early teens was straining to break out of my brain, its driving rhythm close by but still lurking just out of reach. I knew it was a song that was somewhat rare, not the biggest hit that this artist had ever had, but recalled that, whatever it was, it had rearranged my molecules when I first encountered it.

My mind kept fixating on Stevie Wonder, and I checked over his early discography, but nothing was jumping out. Then suddenly my thoughts drifted to Smokey Robinson.  That man's been everywhere on my radar screen lately - keynoting at SXSW, guesting on Elvis Costello's Spectacle show, tweeting, singing the heartbreaking eulogy for the Melvin Franklin character in the Temptations miniseries. Could it have been a Miracles song? 

Checking out his early discography with the Miracles, I saw Come 'Round Here (I'm the One You Need). That title stirred the embers of something deep within me, but I still wasn't sure if it was what I was thinking about.  Was it on YouTube?  It was!  And then I clicked on it ...

I'm always rediscovering songs that I once loved and had forgotten all about, but my reaction to this one was intense. To literally excavate something like that from the fiber of one's being produces a feeling that's hard to describe. I doubt that I've heard it more than a handful of times in the 44 years that have elapsed since I listened to the vinyl single obsessively and danced my heart out in my room at the age of 13.  It is probably the most underrated song in the Smokey-Miracles canon.  Now that it's back in my life, I know it will never leave.

As pretty much everyone knows, Robinson was and is a prolific songwriter for himself and the Miracles as well as any number of the Motown fixtures, such as the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and the Marvelettes.  But this song was not one of those.  It was written by Motown's legendary writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  The works of Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says, "epitomized the Motown sound: a fluid, uptempo style that combined catchy lyrics with the fervor of gospel, the groove of R&B and the polish of pop."

I am guilty of overusing the word "masterpiece," but what can I do?  This is one.  Robinson's near-desperate pleas, half sung, half wailed ... Marv Tarplin's juicy riffs piling on the tension ... the inimitable James Jamerson on bass along with the rest of the Funk Brothers.  All in all, an almost otherworldly synthesis of astounding talent among young men who were the building blocks of the Motown empire that blessed us with, as it was known, "The Sound of Young America."

   

3 comments:

Holly A Hughes said...

More and more, when I find myself dwelling on a Motown song, it's either a Miracles song or something Smokey wrote for some other Motown artist. He was such a team player, I don't think he insisted on the level of stardom he deserved. Without Smokey Robinson, Motown would never have been as much of a force as it was.

Alison said...

Thank you for inspiring younger generations to look back at the classics of your time. You know this already, but you've opened me up to so much musically that I would have otherwise missed. Thank you, thank you!

Wade said...

Are you on hiatus?