Skip to main content

Smokey Robinson Rates Children’s Music, Retirement and Gasms

In this episode of Over/Under, Smokey Robinson rates retirement, weed, and his new record “Gasms.”

Released on 05/09/2023


Do I have any opinions at all?

[Producer] Yeah.


I might have a few.

[upbeat music]

[cymbal crash]

Well, Gasms, I think that the first thing

that people think about when they hear that word,

which is why I used it

because it's controversial, is orgasms.

And not realizing that there are many, many, many gasms.

Gasms is defined as anything makes you feel good.

Christmas could be a gasm, you know.

People could be a gasm.

Something that someone says to you could be a gasm.

Or a gasm could be a gasm.

I really don't think that a gasm could be underrated.


It's something that makes you feel really good.

How could that be underrated?

So, I think it's definitely rated where it should be.

It's rated way up there somewhere.

So, I hope that the album makes people feel good

when they hear it and they have gasms.

[cymbal crash]

It's according to when you get it and what kind,

how potent it is.

It can be overrated.

You can get some weed that's really overrated

and it's absolutely nothing.

And then you can get some that's underrated

and they didn't warn you exactly what it was.

So yeah, as a weed smoker, I say yeah,

it's both of those many times.

And I'm so happy now that they have dispensaries

because many times when you had to get it, you know

just where you got it, it was overrated.

But now, they have the dispensaries

and it's legal and you can go just get it

and you have a choice of several kinds and whatever.

The first time I got one of those feelings

from smoking weed that I felt like, Oh man

this is too much for me.

I want to stop this, you know,

please let me come down.

You know, I was paranoid.

So, but then later on in life, it would happen again.

Or it's happened a few times.

'Cause like I said, you never know what condition

yourself is in when you smoke, you know

you could be in your physical self

or your mental self could be in a place, whereas, okay,

it's not cool for you right now.

But normally it's great, it's relaxing.

And I never, ever understood, even before we became legal,

I never understood why it was illegal and drinking wasn't.

Drinking is a violent kind of,

alcohol is a violent kind of, killer kind of thing

that eats your liver

and your kidneys and your organs

and people get violent and want to do all kinds

of violent things many times on alcohol.

I've never seen anybody do that on weed.

I've never seen anybody do that.

So I didn't understand why alcohol could be legal

and weed not be.

[cymbal crash]

Many times.


Orgasmic experience smoking weed many times.

That's why I do it

because, and I've had experiences

that have been negative with it too.

You know, I think it's according to what your body

is like at that moment,

what your metabolism is doing or whatever it is, you know

because weed affects you different ways at different times.

You know, I've smoked some weed

whereas I swore if I ever came down

I would never smoke again in my life, you know. [laughs]

But the very first time I ever smoked after

I was just getting ready to graduate from high school.

I always played sports in high school.

I played football and basketball and baseball

for my high school and stuff like that.

So my friends that I grew up with

and I tell my kids this all the time

don't tell me about peer pressure because if you did it

you did it 'cause you wanted to.

Because I grew up with some gangsters, man,

you know what I'm saying?

And you know, they be robbing people.

I'm not gonna do that.

They'd get me in a little room about as big as this area

that I'm sitting in right now

and blow smoke in my face.

We gonna get you contact high.

We gonna do it.

But the very first time I ever smoked with them

and got high, it was on a Christmas day.

And I'll never forget that because it was beautiful.

I mean, it was just a beautiful, beautiful feeling

and a beautiful day.

Had a wonderful time.

Everything was funny, you know.

It was one of those highs.

So, it was great.

That's what enticed me to do it again

because I told my friends, I said,

I didn't know it was like this

'cause I might have started sooner than this.

But it was beautiful and I enjoyed it.

[cymbal crash]

One of the things that I enjoyed the most

about going to work is being there with the people

and having them react to what we're doing

and we're reacting to them.

And I tell people all the time, we have a two hour party

and it kills me when people come

and because you're in show business,

they think that your life is wine, women, and song

and after the concert they'll come and say,

Okay, where's the party, man?

I just had the party.

For two hours, I just had the party.

But the people make it a party.

I think that if it gets outta hand violently,

yes, I think it could be, you know.

I've been doing this for a long time

and I've played most places you could even think of

and there's a thing back in the day

especially called the Chitlin Circuit,

where you'd play some gigs

that you be afraid to go in there.


And so, I played a few of those

and I played some where actually violence did break out.

I played those, too.

I played everything you can think of,

especially in the early days going to the south, you know.

I've been shot at for trying to go to the toilet.

So it's, you know, it's according to where you are

and what the circumstances are

as to whether or not it's underrated or overrated.

I think that if you're talking about happiness

or joy in a situation like that, that's really underrated.

[cymbal crash]

Well, when you start talking about kids,

there are a lot of things that I think

are overrated or underrated.

And I think it's according to the author

and what they're trying to portray to the kids.

I think about back in the day, the old nursery rhymes.

They were all negative, when you think about 'em.

Rock-a-by baby on the tree tops,

when the wind blows the cradle will rock,

when the bow breaks the cradle will fall,

and down will come baby cradle.

How pleasant is that for a child to think about that?

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king horses, all the king's men

couldn't put Humpty together.

So Humpty is destroyed.

How pleasant is that?

You know what I'm saying?

Jack and Jill went up the hill

Jack fell down, broke his crown.

All those were negative, you know what I'm saying?

So, I just don't know how people got away

with calling those nursery rhymes

because they're morbid.

So I don't know how people got away with that.

But I think that nowadays people are trying to do things

or write stuff for children that's constructive,

that gives them hope,

and gives them the idea

that they can be whoever they want to be.

If you've ever been a parent, which I have,

there are a lot of things that you do as a parent

or that you participate in

that you're not necessarily wanting to participate in.

Like a lot of little TV shows and stuff

that come on in the morning.

I would sit there and watch that Natasha and Boris

and all those people like that, you know.

I didn't really wanna be there, Bullwinkle all that.

I didn't want to be there, but my kids were watching that,

so they wanted me to watch it with them.

So I had to kind of participate in what they were loving

and what they were liking for their benefit.

[cymbal crash]

Well, for me as a songwriter, I couldn't say anything

except for it would be,

the best explanation I could give on that

it would be underrated.

'Cause there's no feeling for me as a songwriter

than to have someone singing my songs.

You know, I remember when the kids first came out

and they were sampling people's songs

and putting your music into their music.

And people say to me, Oh man, they're sampling your songs.

Another drag.

No, no, no, no.

Sample all of my, sample every song I ever wrote

in my entire life.


Because man, there's a billion songs on earth, you know.

If one of mine meant enough to you

for you to include it in your music

or whatever you do to replicate it, that's fine with me.

Please, do all of mine.

Because as a songwriter, I think you can't beat that.

And I want people to sing my songs.

I want people to enjoy them forever and ever.

I tell people all day, I wanna be Beethoven.

I want 500 years from now for them to be playing my music

and singing it and all that.

[cymbal crash]

Right now we're working on a biopic for me.

We've done the script and we're the people,

the powers that be are looking at it now

to see what we're gonna do.

But I think that if you're gonna do a biopic

as someone who people know, then you should be candid.

If not, just keep it

because who wants to know what they already know.

My two top biopics of all times for me

are Ray and The Temptations miniseries.

Because you see, I knew Ray

and I grew up with the Temptations.

So the accuracy in those biopics were,

they just made them them.

And I knew Ray well, and I know Jamie,

and when I see Jamie, I tell him,

I have never seen you in 'Ray' because he was Ray.

He was Ray, so that's two of my favorites.

And they rate right up there with each other.

[cymbal crash]

I'm an early riser and I always have been

because I used to run.

I used to run every morning.

I used to have a bargain with myself

that no matter what I had done the night before

I had to get up and run at least five miles.

And I did that for years.

I got to the point where I was running marathons

and that stuff like that.

So I'm an early riser and I play golf.

There's really nothing else

you could probably call me at five o'clock in the morning

and say, Hey Smoke, let's get up and go do this.

And I'm gonna say, Where?

'Cause if you tell me let's go play some softball

or some basketball,

I'm gonna hang up on you, really.

But if you say golf, I wanna know where immediately.

So I'm an early riser, so it doesn't bother me.

But now, being an early riser

and it's ironic that I'm in show business, man,

because I'm an early bedtime person, too.

And when it comes to 11 to 12 o'clock

and this has been me all my life,

11, 12 o'clock at night, I'm sleepy now.

Let's go to the club at two o'clock the morning.

No, no, no, no, not me.

I'm sleepy.

So, I normally, when I can, go to bed early too.

See, I'm a good sleeper

and I can go sleep on a dime normally.

It's very seldom that I get into a place

where I really can't sleep.

A flight from LaGuardia to Kennedy, I go to sleep.


[cymbal crash]

Well, for me, it was too soon.

I retired too young.

I retired because my two oldest kids were born finally.

My then wife and I had had seven miscarriages, okay?

And so, she was in the group, she was in The Miracles.

And she came off the road and we finally had two kids.

And I didn't want my kids not to know me,

'cause The Miracles and I traveled all the time.

90% of that we were gone.

So, I didn't want them not to know me.

I wanted to be there so I could see them walk

and say their first words and things like that.

So, I retired for that reason.

So at that point, for me, it was underrated

because I was getting ready to spend the time with my family

that I wanted to be and have them know me and all that.

That was my thoughts of it at first

because I said, Okay, The Miracles and I have done

everything a group would do, okay, so I'm retiring.

That's good.

That was great for me.

But that was an overrated statement for me,

an overrated thought for me because it wasn't.

I made an album after a year because I had written a song

to The Miracles called Sweet Harmony.

And I wanted to make disks for each one of them

and give it to them.

And the lady who was our A and R director

at Motown at that time convinced me, in fact,

to make a record of it so the world could know

this is how I feel about The Miracles.

And so, I finally agreed to do that.

And then she came to me and said, well, you know,

you got this record, you need an album.

So I did that, but it was not on my own need

or want to do that 'cause I wanted to retire forever.

I thought I would never be

in the outer edges of show business again.

And after three years I was climbing the walls.

I was miserable.

So, it became overrated.

Retirement was definitely overrated,

because it wasn't what I expected

nor was it what I could cope with.

[Producer] This was so much fun.

Okay. [laughs]

I had a ball, man.

Up Next