Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Miracles - If You Can Want (1968/ No. 50/ 1 week/ Motown)

Normally with songs of devotional unrequited love, you're listening against the grain for one of three revelations; that the singer is a creep, that the beloved one isn't worth it, or that this is clearly a foolhardy exercise.

You don't get this here. Robinson's always-astonishing sweetness of voice manages to carry over some reasoning that looks pretty hopeless when written out;

"If you can want
you can need
and if you can need
you can care
If, baby, you can care
you can love
Whenever you want me
I'll be there"

There's a tremendous quality of openheartedness when the singer concedes that "this may take some time, but if time was money, then I would be a millionaire." Offsetting this is an arrangement that is not as light as it initially sounds, with a shuffling secondary drumbeat that adds a near subliminal sense of tension to the gentleness of Robinson's declaration. of love.

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