Ed. Note: Settle in for a roundup of different versions of the same song. Check out our rankings and then weigh in on your favorite!
Smokey Robinson wrote this song in the early 1960s, recorded and released it with The Miracles, and it quickly became a hit. Most famously covered by The Beatles on their second album, it has made its rounds through several music acts. I have long loved this song about a tortured love affair even though if this was my friend singing this song, I’d be like “Girl, get out of this relationship!!!” rather than singing and jamming along. Nonetheless, my rankings are below:
Gold Medal: She & Him
Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward give all of their songs a vintage vibe, so covering a Motown song should seem less than fresh. Yet, they slow and strip down the song, which I think makes it sound pre-1960s. It’s sadder than ever in this version and the vocals are incredibly desperate. I have to admit that I’ve never been in a relationship like the one in this song, but this version convinces me that I have, and I just want the jerk to hold me. This version is my favorite because 1) I adore M. Ward and 2) in my opinion, it best marries the original sound with reinvention.
Silver Medal: Small Faces
To appreciate this version, I have to force myself to forget this song is usually recorded as a pop song. Once I do, I can’t believe how fantastic it is. Bluesy and raw, this version invariably breaks my heart. Seriously, I’m crying as I listen to it right now. If The Beatles had covered this song on a later album than they did, this is what they would have done with it. Small Faces reinvent this song, and they reinvent it well.
Bronze Medal: The Cast of Roseanne featuring Bonnie Bramlett
Deal with it. This show was awesome. Bonnie Bramlett knocks you outtttttttttttttttt. Hear her recorded version here. She’s a revelation.
Lots of other Motown artists recorded the song, including The Supremes and Michael Jackson, and those versions are good but a little tired and well-known. Thus, I didn’t want to include any of them. And if you feel so inclined, you can go to YouTube to find lots of versions of Smokey singing it with other artists.
Now to revel in the original:
Take issue with my rankings? Should Smokey Robinson and The Miracles stand alone? Comment below!