"The Tracks of My Tears" is a song written by Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore, and Marv Tarplin. It is a multiple award-winning 1965 hit R&B song by The Miracles on Motown's Tamla label. Linda Ronstadt recorded a hit cover of the song in 1975. "The Tracks of My Tears" has been covered by many artists.
The Miracles version
"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.
"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"). 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.
The Miracles can be seen performing "The Tracks of My Tears" on their 2006 Motown DVD release, The Miracles' Definitive Performances.
Awards and accolades
The Miracles' recording of "The Tracks of My Tears" ranked at #50 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004; 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 Moore, Marv Tarplin, and Smokey Robinson.
Ranked by the RIAA and the National Endowment for the Arts at number 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 number 5 of the "Top 10 Best Songs of All Time" by a panel of 20 top industry songwriters and producers including Hal David, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Jerry Leiber, and others as reported to Britain's Mojo music magazine. A 2006 poll for Britain's Favourite Break-up Songs, a Network 5 TV program, "The Tracks of My Tears" ranked at number 16.
Linda Ronstadt version
"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 single was a minor hit for Ronstadt peaking at number 25 on Billboard Hot 100, reaching number 11 on the C&W chart in tandem with its B-side: the Emmylou Harris duet: "The Sweetest Gift"), and number 42 in 1976 on the UK Singles Chart. Conversely, Ronstadt would score one of her biggest hits with her 1978 single "Ooh 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 "Ooh Baby Baby" on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special broadcast on May 16, 1983.
- "The Tracks of My Tears" is not among the seven Miracles' tracks to reach the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100; 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.
- In 1993, Go West reached number 16 in the UK Singles Chart with "Tracks of My Tears". 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) and a 1982 version by Colin Blunstone which reached number 60.
Coryton, Demitri; Joseph Murrells. Hits Of The Sixties: The Million Sellers. p. 131.