Smokey Robinson Mitchell Cohen - Essay

Mitchell Cohen

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Being With You is marked with the rapturous possibilities and elegance of expression that characterized the finest 60's work of the Miracles. Three of the four Robinson originals—the title song, "You Are Forever," and "If You Wanna Make Love (Come 'Round Here)"—are temperamentally and lyrically akin to such indestructible songs as "I'll Try Something New," "More Love," and "If You Can Want."…

[In the past] Smokey Robinson's songs were built on clever metaphorical conceits….

What they're up to now is an extension. Even when they're saying almost the same thing, the difference is in the approach….

Robinson produced only one song on Being With You … and wrote but half of the eight (one, a cautionary calypso, "Food For Thought," is negligible). "Who's Sad," composed in emulation of the Smokey school of smiles-masking-heartbreak (and lifting its opening line straight from Bacharach and David's "Walk On By"), is the best of the ringers; "I Hear The Children Singing," pious pap about finding the child inside the man, is the worst.

Being With You is something of a slip-up after 1980's semimiraculous Warm Thoughts (in a barren year, I gratefully accepted Smokey's resurgence as a personal gift)….

For two-thirds of my life, I've believed in the gospel according to Smokey. It hasn't worked all the time, but I still figure it's worth a shot.

Mitchell Cohen, "Records: 'Being with You'," in Creem (© copyright 1981 by Creem Magazine, Inc.), Vol. 13, No. 1, June, 1981, p. 52.