‘I Second That Emotion’: Smokey Robinson Shops Around For A Hit Lyric
Inspiration for ‘I Second That Emotion’ struck when Smokey was out shopping with his friend and fellow writer Al Cleveland.
There’s really only one soul music lyricist with the linguistic imagination to think of the line “I Second That Emotion” – even if he did have some help from a fellow writer during a shopping expedition. That man, of course, is Smokey Robinson, and on October 19, 1967, the song of that title became a US single for Smokey and the Miracles.
The inspiration for the number struck when Robinson was out shopping with his friend and fellow writer Al Cleveland. Picking out some pearls for his then-wife and fellow Miracles member Claudette Rogers, he told the shop assistant that he hoped Claudette would like them. “I second that emotion,” said Cleveland, meaning to say “motion.” Both of them realised that they had the title of a potential hit, on which Claudette would add backing vocals with the rest of the Miracles.
Another of Smokey’s great friends and collaborators at Motown, Marv Tarplin, added the distinctive guitar, with the Funk Brothers providing the usual solid backbeat for the tune. Both parties would also play on the 1969 Top 20 pop hit cover of the song by Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations.
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The Miracles’ version of the song became their second R&B No.1, the first on that chart in the new year of 1968. By peaking at No.4 on the Hot 100, it also had the distinction of being the biggest of their 34 – yes, 34 — pop chart entries of the 1960s.
Buy or stream “I Second That Emotion” on The Ultimate Collection.