A profound exchange on a new, favorite podcast moved me to write this post. SongCraft is a podcast around the stories of the greatest songs in modern day history. Their tagline: “You probably know their names, and you definitely know their songs. We bring you their stories” sums it up nicely. Many people on the show are the folks behind the music: the writers and producers. The exchange from the episode I’m about to share comes from the well-known Smokey Robinson. Within 10 years starting in 1960, Smokey Robinson lead the Miracles as the lead singer, songwriter, and producer to 26 top forty hits. As the success came, Smokey’s focus on the music remained paramount. The following exchange is how his mind frame and perspective lead him to maintain focus on what mattered.
Paul from SongCraft: “Any time you have a company that starts out like a family, it starts out organically, it becomes a multi-million dollar business, you wind up with hurt feelings, you wind up with broken relationships, you wind up with lawsuits, that’s just the nature of humanity but you always have seemed to rise above all that, what is it you think that allowed you to sort of avoid getting dragged in to some of that drama and be all about the music?”
Smokey Robinson: “Gosh, I don’t know man because I have a different viewpoint of success and especially in show business. I have seen thousands of people come through show business, you see I’ve been doing this for sixty years man. So I’ve seen thousands come through and the great majority of the thousands that have come through and who you no longer know ‘where they are’ or ‘if they are’ was because they came in and got a hit record or got some notoriety and they thought that they started it. They thought now the world is around me and can not possibly do without me and that’s a bad mistake. So I’ve always known that it’s a blessing. You see I have a great great great relationship with God and it’s a personal one. You know I’m not a religious man. You know what I mean but I know my source. You know what I mean. So I have never forgotten that and if you could see where I came from, especially now that Detroit is so devastated, I came from deep shit man and for me to have had the opportunity to be in a business like show business, because it was my dream, it was my impossible dream. So God said “okay man, I’m going to let you have this and see what you do” and I am always aware of that. I am always aware of that and I’m not going to ‘Smokey Robinson trip’ on that, you know because, shit, I’m just a link in the chain. You know I didn’t start it, I ain’t gonna finish it. There are millions of people behind me and there will be millions in front of me. So I know that and I respect it and I’m not going to trip on success because it’s fleeting and it’s here today and gone tomorrow if you don’t respect it and know why it is.”