"The Tracks of My Tears" is a multiple award-winning and much covered love song introduced in 1965 by The Miracles on Motown's Tamla label. This song is considered to be among the finest recordings of The Miracles, and it sold over one million records within two years, making it The Miracles' fourth million-selling record.[1] It has also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and is listed by Rolling Stone magazine as #50 in its listing of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


 [hide*1 Original version

Original version[edit]

"The Tracks of My Tears" was written by Miracles members Smokey Robinson (lead vocalist), Pete Moore (bass vocalist), and Marv Tarplin (guitarist).

In the five-LP publication The Motown Story, by Motown Records, Robinson explained the origin of this song in these words: "'Tracks of My Tears' was actually started by Marv Tarplin, who is a young cat who plays guitar for our act. So he had this musical thing [sings melody], you know, and we worked around with it, and worked around, and it became 'Tracks of My Tears'." Tarplin's guitar licks at the song's intro are among the most famous in pop music history.[2][3]

"The Tracks of My Tears" was a number 2 hit on the Billboard R&B chart, and it reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Belatedly released in the UK in 1969, it became a Top Ten hit that summer, reaching number 9 (the UK release was credited to "Smokey Robinson and the Miracles").[4]

The Miracles can be seen performing "The Tracks of My Tears" on their 2006 Motown DVD release, The Miracles' Definitive Performances.

Cover versions[edit]

"The Tracks of My Tears" is not among the seven Miracles' tracks to reach the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100, and the highest charting pop version of the song was the 1967 cover version by Johnny Rivers which reached number 10.

Aretha Franklin recorded the song for her Soul '69 album from which it was issued as a single although as the B-side. Franklin's version of "The Weight", became the favored track with "Tracks of My Tears" peaking at number 76 Pop and number 21 R&B.

"Tracks of My Tears" became a pop Top 40 hit for the third time, when the version recorded by Linda Ronstadt for her 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise, was issued as that album's second single. The track was not one of Ronstadt's biggest hits peaking at #25 ("Tracks of My Tears" reached #11 on the C&W chart in tandem with its B-side: the Emmylou Harris duet: "The Sweetest Gift"). Conversely, Ronstadt would score one of her biggest hits with her 1978 single "Ooo Baby Baby" which was a remake of the Miracles' hit single release precedent to "The Tracks of My Tears". Ronstadt and Smokey Robinson performed both "The Tracks of My Tears" and "Ooo Baby Baby" on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special broadcast on May 16, 1983.

In 1993, Go West reached number 16 in the UK Singles Chart with "Tracks of My Tears".[5] In that country, after the Miracles' original had reached the UK Top Ten in 1969, the song has been a minor chart item via the Linda Ronstadt remake (number 42 in 1976)[6] and a 1982 version by Colin Blunstone which reached number 60.[7]

The Jackson 5 recorded the song for Steeltown Records in 1968, and it was to be part of an 11 track studio album but remained unreleased until The Steeltown Sessions was released in 2008. Others who have recorded the song include:

It has also been notably covered by: Soul AsylumBilly BraggSusan CadoganThe ContoursMartha and the VandellasThe Mighty DiamondsQ-TipDianne ReevesBrenda RussellMongo Santamaría, and Paul Young.

Awards and accolades[edit]

The Miracles' recording of "The Tracks of My Tears" ranked at #50 on Rolling Stone Magazine'The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004;[8] the track was also a 2007 inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame. On May 14, 2008, the track was preserved by the United States Library of Congress as an "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significance" to the National Recording Registry. The song "The Tracks of My Tears" was also awarded "The Award Of Merit" from The American Society of Composers, Authors,and Publishers (ASCAP) for Miracles members/composers Pete MooreMarv Tarplin, and Smokey Robinson.[9]

Ranked by the RIAA and the National Endowment for the Arts at #127 in its list of the Songs of the Century - the 365 Greatest Songs of the 20th Century - "The Tracks of My Tears" was also chosen as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Additionally the song ranked at #5 of the Top 10 Best Songs of All Time by a panel of 20 top industry songwriters and producers including Hal DavidPaul McCartneyBrian WilsonJerry Leiber, and others as reported to Britain's Mojo music magazine.[10] A 2006 poll for Britain's Favourite Break-up Songs, a Network 5 TV program, "The Tracks of My Tears" ranked at #16.[citation needed]

Film and television[edit]

"The Tracks of My Tears" by the Miracles is a soundtrack item in the films The Big Chill (1983) and Platoon (1986).

The 17 February 1983 broadcast of the sitcom Gimme a Break! entitled "The Return of the Doo-Wop Girls" featured an a cappella performance of "The Tracks of My Tears" by series star Nell Carter collaborating with the Pointer Sisters.

Credits: The Miracles[edit]

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