Now and Then: A Conversation with Smokey Robinson

Some people would ask, after 50 years in the music business, why not just take it easy?  Well, ask that of legendary R&B artist Smokey Robinson and he’ll tell you why he’s still recording and performing – it’s because he’s been given the chance to live his wildest, most impossible dream.  “I am extremely blessed,” said Smokey while he was in Nashville recently to talk about his newest CD, Now and Then, which is available only at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations nationwide.  “Ever since I was a child, since I was four or five years old, I wanted to be in show business. It seemed impossible from where I was growing up.” He adds, “I’m just blessed and that keeps me going.”

Smokey has had great success with his group The Miracles and as a solo artist, and he has

logged 37 Top 40 hits in his career, earning a number of significant awards along the way including a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award, a Grammy® for “Best R&B Performance, Male,” and the Soul Train Music Award for Career Achievement. For a short time, he retired from performing to focus on his role as Vice President of Motown Records. But after three and a half years of being an executive and of writing songs for others, he says that he was starting to climb the walls. “It was so obvious – Berry Gordy, my best friend and the man who started Motown – came to me one day and asked me to do him a favor. I thought he had some trip he wanted me to take or some deal he wanted me to handle.” Laughing, Smokey explains, “Berry told me to go get a band and make a record and get out of the office because he could see I was miserable. And he said that seeing me miserable made him miserable, and he didn’t want that. So I got back into performing.”

And Smokey is still performing and still releasing albums. His newest CD, Now and Then, has 12 songs on it. Six are live versions of well-known classics, including “Going to a Go-Go,” “I Second That Emotion,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” and “The Tears of a Clown,” recorded in 2010 during various performances. The other six are from his 2009 CD, Time Flies When You’re Having Fun, including “Time Flies,” “Don’t Know Why,” and “Girlfriend.