Feb 272020

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

smokey robinson covers

The story goes that Bob Dylan called Smokey Robinson “America’s greatest living poet.” Not so, it turns out, but it sure seems like something he would say – it sounds a note of contrariness, but it also has the ring of truth.

Smokey Robinson turned 80 this month, and his legacy as one of the architects of the Motown sound has long been assured. Not only did he have a silken falsetto that conveyed sunshine and rain with equal ease, he also wielded a pen with a similar level of genius. Whether writing for The Miracles, the band that he led throughout the sixties, or the other members of the Motown stable, he came up with songs that became not just a part of music history, but a part of our nation’s history. As Smokey said, the Motown slogan was not “The Sound of Black America,” but “The Sound of Young America,” and that sound has rung down through the corridors of time as surely as the sound of the Liberty Bell.

No further proof is needed than the number of covers of Smokey’s songs – covers of his own recordings or covers of the original recordings by The Temptations or Marvin Gaye or the many other singers who benefited from his pen. His voice has spoken to other artists for decades, and when those artists tell us what he told them, those songs are just as fresh as they were the day he first set them down. We found thirty superlative covers of songs that Smokey wrote and/or sang, but, as we could have found thirty great recordings of “My Girl” alone, we know we’ve missed a few along the way. Whether you’re steamed at what we missed, or excited to discover what we found, we can agree on one thing: Smokey Robinson is one of the all-time greats, and we’re fortunate to have the privilege to listen to the songs he wrote for the rest of our lives.

– Patrick Robbins, Features Editor

The list starts on Page 2.

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  7 Responses to “The Best Smokey Robinson Covers Ever”

Comments (6) Pingbacks (1)
  1. That one by Loudon Wainwright and John Hiatt is insane, the best cover of any song I’ve ever heard!

  2. Big Country’s version of Tracks of My Tears belongs in the Top 10.

  3. Linda Ronstadt’s voice and vibe…sigh…especially Live. Divine.

  4. I have a longest train to nice Smokey and Aretha Franklin you know I feel him on that one yes it hurts a lot to see your friends go before you that you grew up with and yes Smokey is one of the greatest poets of all time

    • Sometimes we make mistakes but I meant to say I have one of the longest living friends like Smokey and Aretha Franklin and yes it hurt to see your friends gold you grew up with I feel you on that one Smokey

  5. There’s one comment about Smokey Robinson he’s been my favorite singer song write since was 12 years old l’m 68 years old l don’t care who has come before him or after he’s mine favorite for all times his music and his voice is therapeutic for spirit and soul and l love s Smokey Robinson and l always will.

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