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The Intersection of Science, Art, Music & Humanities

Quiet Storm: Sing It, Smokey

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Today's Sunday Morning Stop at the Intersection of Science, Art, Music, and Humanities features Smokey Robinson and his impact on the most always romantic, quiet storm genre of music, which combines new and old forms of rhythm and blues (R&B) and a bit of jazz. It was named after the title song on Smokey's 1975 album A Quiet Storm.

This music was often played late at night on stations like Washington, DC's WHUR-FM (now urban adult contemporary), or San Francisco's urban station KSOL, or on SF late night KJAZZ-FM, or San Mateo's KCSM. 

Smokey's Quiet Storm lyrics

Soft and warm a quiet storm
Quiet as when flowers talk at break of dawn
Break of dawn
A power source of tender force generating
Turn me on, turn them on

You short-circuit all my nerves
Promising electric things
You touch me and suddenly there's rainbow rings

Quiet storm
Blowin' through my life
Oh, quiet storm
Blowin' through my life
Oh, blow baby

Windy sigh
Weaken my
Butterfly caught up in a hurricane, hurricane
Lucky me, I'm better free
Suddenly I'm caught up in your somber rain

Shower me with your sweet love
I will bathe in every drop
Through all the seasons
Let it pour and never stop.

Quite storm music fell out of favor with many young listeners during the subculture resurgence of hip-hop in the very late 1970s and 1980s, but it never fell out of favor with more mature audiences. It's now back big-time on internet jazz / R&B stations reappearing around the country. They represent throwback classic soul, old school slow jams, jazz, and smooth R&B love songs.

In the early 1970s, quiet storm music was mostly devoid of any significant political commentary, and it maintained a strict aesthetic. 

Quiet storms in music and literature often represent apprehension around fear of the unknown. Many of these cultural storms have proven to repeat their enormous impact in the metaphoric Pantheon of influence over many decades. Smokey Robinson's music is included in that category.

Sometimes storms linger, sometimes they pass quickly, but every storm starts the same way: with an eerie, but exciting silence that eventually erupts into major chaos, before becoming a quiet storm again.

About Smokey Robinson

Smokey was the founder, frontman, singer, songwriter, and producer of the Motown vocal group, the Miracles, before he became the vice president of Motown.  

The Beatles' second album, You've Really Got a Hold on Me, was a cover version of a Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' tune, originally a hit in 1962  (see video below).

Smokey released a number of hits in the 1980s including “Just to See Her” and “One Heartbeat,” which were top 10 hits on Billboard. 

He also won a Grammy Award for “Just to See Her” in 1988 and released an album titled Smokey & Friends in 2014. This album includes duets with Elton John, Linda Ronstadt, and James Taylor. It reached number 12 on the Billboard chart.

Have a lovely and thoughtful Sunday morning.

Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff

Biosyntrx strongly believes that appreciation, exploration and commitment to science, art, music and humanities add significantly to the global greater good and are important parts of the intellectual whole.