DEAR JERRY: Here is a quirky question, one I would not ask very many people for fear of being ridiculed.
In the summer of 1970, mostly due to the hit single “The Tears of a Clown,” I got on a Smokey Robinson and the Miracles kick.
For Christmas that year, I got their two most recent albums, “A Pocket Full of Miracles” (Tamla 306), and a Christmas LP, “The Season for Miracles” (Tamla 307).
Then in January '71, I bought “The Tears of a Clown” album (Tamla 276), and then a few months later “One Dozen Roses” (Tamla 312).
The quirky part is how the numbers appeared to be consecutive at least 306, 307, and 312.
So why is what is probably their biggest hit ever, “The Tears of a Clown” (No. 276) completely out of sequence?
Peter Gaines, Huntsville, Ala.
DEAR PETER: I think you'll like our new motto: “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and your quirky questions.”
Tamla 276 originally came out in perfect sequence, in 1967 right between 271 and 280.
That is when the LP you know as “The Tears of a Clown” originally came out, but with the title “Make It Happen.”
How Tamla-Motown first underestimated a compelling track like “The Tears of a Clown” we don't know, but they failed to release it as a single.
The two single hits on “Make It Happen” are “The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage” and “More Love,” neither of which climbed any higher than No. 20 nationally.
Meanwhile, “The Tears of a Clown” languished seemingly unnoticed for three years!
Then all it did, as you pointed out, was become the biggest hit ever for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
In December 1970, Motown repackaged “Make It Happen,” keeping the same 12 tracks and cover art, simply replacing the old title with “The Tears of a Clown,” to take advantage of what was at that time the No. 1 hit in the country.
Perhaps unaware of your quirky observation ability, they recycled the same selection number as used three years earlier for “Make It Happen.”
DEAR JERRY: It's funny how certain lyrics can stay with you for a lifetime, especially if you occasionally put them to use.
For example, I have a girl friend who is sometimes down in the dumps. As a joke of sorts, I sing these words to her, inspired by an old song: “You go 'round moping and you go around blue.”
However silly, it always makes her smile.
She has never heard the actual song, but if you will identify it I can buy it for her.
Mary Eastman, Atlanta, Ga.
DEAR MARY: Your story strengthens my belief in the therapeutic value of music, and now you shall have the information needed to assist with your practice:
The medicinal song is “Come Back, Silly Girl” (Capitol 4699) a Top 20 hit in early 1962 for the Lettermen.
Aside from the need to modify the personal pronouns, from “I go 'round moping and I go around blue,” your recollection of the opening lyrics is just what the doctor ordered.
Most of the “Greatest Hits” and “Best of” Lettermen albums include “Come Back, Silly Girl.” I have it on “The Lettermen - Collectors Series” (Capitol 077779853724), which usually turns up for under $10.
IZ ZAT SO? Very, very few '60s music lovers would connect anyone but the Lettermen with “Come Back, Silly Girl,” but the song came out over a year earlier (September 1960) by Steve Lawrence.
For the four singles and 12 months between late 1959 and '60, Steve went two for four.
“Pretty Blue Eyes” (ABC-Paramount 10058) and “Footsteps” (ABC-Paramount 10085) both made the Top 10, but neither of the next two ABC singles charted at all: “Why, Why, Why” (ABC-Paramount 10113) and “Come Back, Silly Girl” (ABC-Paramount 10146).
The ups and downs of the record business no doubt had ABC and Steve both asking the musical question, “Why, Why, Why?”