There’s no one better to tell Smokey Robinson’s story than the Motown legend himself.
The singer, songwriter and producer narrates the new audio memoir „Smokey Robinson: Grateful and Blessed,“ now available exclusively on Audible within the Audible Plus catalog. The 100-minute special features a mix of words and music as Robinson recounts his humble beginnings in Detroit, growing up with future icons Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross. He recalls his early days as frontman of vocal group The Miracles and his work with Motown artists Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations, writing the latter’s enduring 1964 hit „My Girl.“
Robinson, 80, calls up USA TODAY from quarantine, where he has been spending much-appreciated time with his wife, Frances Gladney, and their 5-year-old white lab, Shiloh.
Smokey Robinson: Back in those days, (Motown founder) Berry Gordy had a policy with all the producers at Motown: If you produced a No. 1 record, you got a $1,000 bonus check. I had been on the road with the Miracles for two weeks and come back to Detroit, and Berry calls me to his office. He said, „Here’s your check.“ And I said, „My check?“ And he was like, „Yeah, you’ve got a No. 1 record (with) ‚My Girl.‘ It’s only been out two weeks but it’s going to No. 1, so here’s your check in advance.‘ “
Robinson: If it hadn’t been for David Ruffin, I probably never would’ve even written „My Girl.“ The first hit I wrote for The Temptations was „The Way You Do the Things You Do“ with Eddie Kendricks on vocals, but I knew if I could get David Ruffin to sing something sweet, that’d be a hit, too. I didn’t know it’d become humungous around the world, but I knew it’d be a hit. I don’t regret giving it to them whatsoever. The reason the song became alive was because of them.
Robinson: It’s profound. If you listen to ‚What’s Going On‘ right now, it’s more poignant today than it was when it came out. Marvin and I were really, really close. I’d go to his house, and he’d sit at the piano. He looked at me one day and said: „Hey, man. God is writing this album. I’m just sitting here because God is writing this and it’s just coming out.“ When you listen to it, I believe him because it’s prophetic.
Robinson: When I was a kid, I used to watch every musical variety show on TV, especially „Ed Sullivan.“ I would see Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., and they’d all say, „We’ve been doing this for 25 years!“ And I would look at them and say, „Damn, how could somebody be doing something like that for 25 years?“ But 65 years, man. That’s amazing to me. I’m very grateful and very blessed to be able to live a life that I love like this for these many years.
Robinson: Charlie called me! We’ve been friends for a long, long time, and he’s had such a great resurgence. He called me and said, „Smokey, I got this song.“ I went down and sang it, we did the video and it was so much fun.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Lyrics
[Verse 1: Marvin Gaye]Listen, babyAin’t no mountain highAin’t no valley lowAin’t no river wide enough, baby [Tammi Terrell]If you need me, call meNo matter where you areNo matter how far (Don’t worry, baby)Just call my nameI’ll be there in a hurryYou don’t have to worryCause baby there [Chorus: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell]Ain’t no mountain high enoughAin’t no valley low enoughAin’t no river wide enoughTo keep me from getting to you, babe [Verse 2: Marvin Gaye]Remember the dayI set you freeI told you you could always count on me, darlingFrom that day on, I made a vowI’ll be there when you want meSomeway, somehowOh baby there [Chorus: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell]Ain’t no mountain high enoughAin’t no valley low enoughAin’t no river wide enoughTo keep me from getting to you, babe [Bridge: Marvin Gaye]Oh no, darling [Tammi Terrell]No wind, no rainNor winter stormCan’t stop me, baby [Marvin Gaye]No, no baby [Tammi Terrell]Cause you are my goal [Marvin Gaye]If you’re ever in troubleI’ll be there on the doubleJust send for me [Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell]Oh, baby! [Verse 3]My love is aliveWay down in my heartAlthough we are miles apart [Marvin Gaye]If you ever need a helping handI’ll be there on the doubleJust as fast as I can [Chorus: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell]Don’t you know that ‚t no mountain high enoughAin’t no valley low enoughAin’t no river wide enoughTo keep me from getting to you, babyAin’t no mountain high enoughAin’t no valley low enoughAin’t no river wide enoughAin’t no mountain high enoughAin’t no valley low enough
About “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” marked the first collaboration between soul artists Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell where it also appeared as the opening track on the record.
Although they kept their relationship as professional as could be, the two were practically inseparable with most describing them as “brother and sister.” At Terrell’s funeral after her tragic death at the mere age of 24, her mother barred everyone at Motown from attending except Gaye (who also delivered the eulogy) as she felt he was her only friend there. Perhaps there really was no mountain, valley or river that could ever come between them.
The song was listed by writers of the UK publication NME as one of the Top 150 Singles of All Time, and the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The song would go on to be covered by dozens of artists, including Diana Ross, The Supremes and The Temptations, as well as the songwriters Ashford & Simpson among others.
Soul Legends – Marvin Gaye
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