On this episode of All Songs Considered, legendary R&B singer Smokey Robinson joins host Bob Boilen to share some of the songs and events that shaped his career as well as songs from his new duets album, Smokey & Friends.
Smokey remembers a series of musical milestones in his life: "Lonely Teardrop" by Jackie Wilson who he remembers seeing for the first time when he was ten years old; Sarah Vaughan, the first singer he ever remembers hearing; and the first record he ever bought, The Spaniels' 1953 hit "Baby, It's You." Alongside these influential artists he talks about some of the most famous songs he performed with The Miracles, including "I Second That Emotion" and "Got a Job."
Smokey & Friends, which is out Aug. 19, includes collaborations with artists like Miguel, John Legend and Cee Lo Green on songs written by Robinson (some that were originally performed by other artists, like Marvin Gaye). In the show, you can hear his duets with Elton John, Mary J. Blige and James Taylor. Does revisiting his own classics so many years later make him feel nostalgia? No, he says. "I've been doing concerts now for over fifty years," Smokey says. "Every night [those songs] are new to me."