There’s some things that I want you to know now,
A just as sure as the winds gonna blow now,
The women come and the women gonna go now,
Before you tell ’em that you love ’em so now,
My mama told me, ‘you better shop around’…
Smokey Robinson was born in Detroit on this day in 1940, as was Bobby Rogers, another member of the Miracles — in the same hospital, though the two do not recall meeting until the mid-1950s. When their 1960 hit “Shop Around” became a million seller, the Miracles became the first successful group for Berry Gordy’s legendary Motown Records, where Robinson went on to serve as vice president until the label was sold in 1988. In his memoir To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown, Gordy reflects upon the heady, hardworking early days at Motown, where everyone tried to honor the label’s quality control slogan: “It’s what’s in the grooves that counts.” After a quarter century, says Gordy, it wasn’t easy to shop Motown Records around to the conglomerates that had always been his competition, but the technology and the times were a-changing, and the thrill was gone: “When I started out I was doing about 90 percent Creative and 10 percent Business. As the years went on the percentages more than switched; and now, doing about 98 percent Business and 2 percent Creative, I was stuck and I hated it.”
Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.