Saturday, January 30, 2010
What I'm Listening to--Right Now!
Oh, I just love it the thrill of discovery, and I've received it thanks to taking a chance on Smokey Robinson's new release, Time Flies When You're Having Fun. I've never paid close attention to the man, but he is one terrific singer!
I was drawn to this release when I saw Robinson interviewed on one of the musical segues (called the "Inspiration Sessions") that they feature on Elvis Costello's Spectacle show on the Sundance Channel. Not that he said anything especially interesting. It was just the setup: there Smokey was, talking about how he had an idea for song ("Love Bath"), and his two producers--these two young white guys--nodded and smiled as he told his story. It amused me. The song had no appeal to me, but I got caught up in the reverence being paid to Smokey. I mean, he is deserving of it, but I still thought, "So how did he snag this promotional opportunity here?"
So I gave the CD a try and oh my, from the first notes of the opening track ("Time Flies") I was a goner. This is a gorgeous ballad rendered so smoothly by Smokey. Allow me to share some lyrics.
Break of day
Why you comin’ so fast?
I don’t want to have to leave her yet
Here we lay
And we want it to last...
Like the old sayin’ goes
When you’re havin’ fun
I'm glad that Smokey Robinson is still around to create this sound and feeling. If you wish to belittle it, you could call it "smooth jazz" or, even worse, the "quiet storm" kind of music so memorably lampooned by Garrett Morris on those old SNL skits.(You know, the one where he's swilling his "Ca-va-see-ay" and inviting you into his love nest. Hmm...just checked. Turns out Smokey coined the term when he released an album by that name in 1975!)
But over time this style of music has achieved a certain integrity. Furthermore, it's not like the Time Flies CD is besotted with it. Smokey digs in for some silky rhythmic soul numbers here ("Girlfriend") and shares the studio with some big names: Joss Stone, India.Arie, and Carlos Santana.
It's delicious, and it stands out. A diversion for me, and a welcome one at that. Trolling on the Internet, I was also reminded that Smokey Robinson took a swing at the Great American Songbook four years ago. After hearing his singing of "I'm Glad There Is You", I am totally motivated to check out the remainder of 2006's Timeless Love.
This is the kind of serendipity that keeps me in love with searching out and listening to music!
Here's another review of the album that's worth reading.