Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – “I Second That Emotion”

Second Emotion

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – “I Second That Emotion,” Pop # 4, R&B # 1

By Joel Francis

Smokey Robinson was Christmas shopping with fellow Motown songwriter Al Cleveland when Cleveland let slip the malapropism “I second that emotion.” Intrigued, Robinson penned a lyric about a man disinterested in flirting, fishing for long-term love. In other words, it’s the complete opposite of every Kiss song ever.

The arrangement and delivery is relaxed and easy. Never a forceful singer, Robinson lets the horns punctuate his pleas. His vocals are soft and comforting as a pillow, while Miracle Marv Tarplin’s guitar pulls the song over the unusually subdued percussion. There’s no climax or resolution to the number – the horn breakdown in the final moment is as close as we get. It’s almost like Robinson is auditioning the idea.

The song fades before we learn the woman’s reaction, but audiences were delighted, sending “I Second That Emotion” into the Top 5 and earning the Miracles their sixth million-selling single.

Less than two years later, Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations teamed up for a television special and album. “Diana Ross and the Supremes Join the Temptations” featured their interpretation of “I Second that Emotion,” which was a Top 20 UK hit (the single was not released in America). The album marked the debut of new Temp Dennis Edwards, who replaced the troubled David Ruffin. Miracle guitarist Tarplin reprised his role for the all-star revision. The song has a diverse cover life, with performances issued by Jerry Garcia, ‘80s synth band Japan, and “Stand By Your Man” country singer Tammy Wynette.

One thought on “Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – “I Second That Emotion”

  1. hello everyone,
    I love this song and I’ve heard some great renditions, in addition to the wonderful original.
    my favorite of these are the many performances by Jerry Garcia Band– mentioned above, to whom I’ve had a Lifetime of Devotion :)
    Jerry’s band played it 154 times in addition to other wonderful “motown” songs like How Sweet it Is”. He also played the song a handful of times with his careers primary band Greatful Dead.
    Please check some these out by JGB. not all of them were great, Jerry being on road so much for so long, but if you Poke around a bit you’ll be richly rewarded.Jerry wasn’t the singer of some of the Motown/Soul greats… but his guitar playing together with the instrumental prowess of his Troubadours really give life to these songs in long, wonderful interpretations that sometimes blow you away. in the the 70s they could be both gritty and jazzy with incredible endurance, performing the songs in a different unique way almost never exactly the same twice. by the late 80s & 90s Jerry was so polished and his newer bandmates so beautiful and full sounding he had become one of the best bands ever often with the help of these very Motown historic songs. and his female vocal section made it perfect Gloria Jones & Jacky Lablanch. another awesome contribution making him in some ways superior musically to the originals was the keyboard work as well as the master bassist John Kahn.
    again, most readers here probably unfamiliar with Jerry’s work, especially his JGB work and man your in for a treat.

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