The Smokey Robinson and the Miracles song George Harrison thought was ‘fabulous’
George explained, “He’ll probably laugh at this, but it was on I think the first album they ever did and it’s called ‘I’ll Try Something New.’ Fabulous song. Great words, ‘Give you lovin’ warm as mama’s oven/ And if that don’t do/ I’ll try something new.'”
George is right; the lyrics to “I’ll Try Something New” are fabulous.
Robinson inspired George to write a song
The Beatles covered Robinson’s songs and tried to adopt his songwriting style on a couple of songs. However, George’s love for the singer never faded. In the late 1970s, Robinson inspired George to write a song called “Pure Smokey.” It was about the Beatle’s love of the Motown star.
In his 1980 memoir, I Me Mine, George talked about the origins of his song “Pure Smokey,” which appeared on his 1976 album, Thirty Three & 1/3.
“‘Pure Smokey’ started out with nice chord changes,” George explained. “I’ve always liked Smokey Robinson and he’s probably one of the best songwriters around. He writes great lyrics and great melodies, and he is fantastic to see in concert, because one tends to forget how many good tunes he has written.
“He brought out an album called ‘Pure Smokey,’ and I’ve met him once or twice. Sometimes you get an idea and write a specific song, but other times—often—it turns itself into whatever it’s going to be—with the effort put into it—and this turned into ‘Pure Smokey.’
“I’m trying to make the point—if I like someone I want to say, ‘I like you.’ I don’t want to die and then to think, ‘Oh, I forgot to tell them I liked them.’
“‘Throughout my lifetimes I’d hesitate/ I’d feel some joy/ But before I’d show my thanks it became too late.’ So this song turned into an all-purpose thing of generally trying to show appreciation, and then to focus on my appreciation of Smokey.”
During his interview with Warner Bros., George said he didn’t know if Robinson knew about the song. However, the reporter said she knew that he did. During an interview with Hazy Rock (per Something Else!), Robinson revealed that he and George eventually got close.
“The Beatles were a very unique group, as we all know,” Robinson said. “I had the pleasure of meeting the Beatles, you know. And George, I had the pleasure of spending more time with him than any of the other guys. I just met the other guys briefly. George, for a time, was living in Los Angeles, and I had the pleasure of being in his company a few times. We got to know each other kind of well.
“That was a wonderful, flattering thing for him to feel like that, and to write about it, so that the world could know that he felt like that. It was wonderful to me, and I’m very flattered by that,” Robinson said of “Pure Smokey.”
The former Beatle was ‘madly in love’ with Robinson
It’s safe to say George never lost his love for Robinson.
During a press conference in 1974 (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters), George revealed his favorite contemporary artists. He had a hard time liking popular music. However, there were a few artists that astounded him, including, of course, Robinson.
“Smokey Robinson, I’m madly in love with Smokey Robinson,” George said.
In a 1975 interview with WNEW-FM’s Dave Herman (per George Harrison on George Harrison), George said Robinson’s music made him feel good. Most music made him feel uptight.
“I like people who just convey in their music some sort of sincerity,” George said. “I’m a big fan of Smokey Robinson just because musically he is so sweet, he makes you feel nice, he makes me feel good, whereas a lot of music I listen to, which is popular music, just makes me uptight.”
With the love that George had, how could Robinson not be honored?