Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – I Second That Emotion

Smokey has one of the best voices ever and he can write like no one else. Everyone from John Lennon to Bob Dylan was a fan. I had the single “Tears of a Clown” given to me as a kid by my cousin along with this one.

This song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

Al Cleveland and Smokey Robinson wrote this song. It was inspired by a trip to a department store. Robinson and Cleveland were shopping at a Detroit department store. Smokey found a set of pearls for his wife, Claudette. “They’re beautiful,” he said to the salesperson. “I sure hope she likes them.” Cleveland then added, “I second that emotion.” and the song was born.

From Songfacts

“I second that motion” is a common phrase heard at meetings in America where policy is being determined. It’s what Motown producer Al Cleveland meant to say when he was on a shopping trip with Smokey Robinson.

Robinson and Cleveland produced the song, and it was released in October 1968, entering the US Top 40 in December, about a year after it was written. The song was also a #1 R&B hit.

This was the first Top 10 hit for the group after their 1967 name change from The Miracles. Robinson and Cleveland teamed up to write several more hits for the group, including “Special Occasion” (#26 US, 1968), “Yester Love” (#31 US, 1968), and “Baby, Baby Don’t Cry” (#8 US, 1969).

Robinson and Cleveland wrote a third verse for this song, which pushed the length to 3:15. Acutely aware that songs longer than 3 minutes were often denied airplay, Motown head Berry Gordy had them eliminate the verse and bring the song down to 2:38, which was much more palatable for radio programmers. Robinson was OK with altering the song, as he had tremendous respect for Gordy’s judgment and wanted the song to be a hit. He felt that he could tell a story in a song in whatever time he was allotted – even under 3 minutes.

In songwriting circles, this one is often studied for its use of secondary rhymes and melodic intricacy. Smokey Robinson sprinkled in words like “notion” and “devotion” to compliment the title, all while rhyming verses with phrases like “kisses sweet” and “no repeat.” The guitar line also perfectly accents the vocal. Robinson credits Berry Gordy for his songwriting evolution. Gordy was a songwriter before he started Motown (he wrote song for Jackie Wilson), and he taught Robinson how to write intricate, yet accessible songs like this one.

This was featured on the soundtrack of the 1983 film The Big Chill. 

This song was a favorite of Jerry Garcia; he often performed it with the Grateful Dead and with the Jerry Garcia Band. These versions show up on a variety of bootleg recordings.

I Second That Emotion

Maybe you’ll wanna give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat.
And maybe you’ll go away and never call,
And a taste of honey is worse that none at all.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Maybe you’ll think that love will tie you down
And you don’t have the time to hang around.
Or maybe you’ll think that love will make us fools,
And so it makes you wise to break the rules.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

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