- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - After five decades in show business, the man who shaped Motown with instantly recognizable hits like “My Girl” and “Tears of a Clown” says he can’t stop writing.

Smokey Robinson says he scribbles down lyrics on a pad or leaves a fragment of a tune on his own voice mail whenever inspiration hits.

“I write on the plane, on the bus, on the train, I write in the bathroom,” Robinson said in an interview. “I do have a bunch of songs that I’m very anxious to record.”

But you won’t hear any of that material on his latest album, “Smokey & Friends,” out Tuesday. The collection of Robinson tunes pairs the legendary singer-songwriter with Elton John, Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, CeeLo Green, Miguel, Steven Tyler and more.

Robinson, who is on a U.S. tour, talked to The Associated Press about his duets collaborators and his love of being on the road.

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GETTING A HOLD OF FRIENDS

On “Smokey & Friends,” Robinson sang “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” in-studio with longtime friend Steven Tyler, while the other tracks were pieced together electronically from separate recording sessions.

Each collaborator picked a favorite song written by Robinson. Elton John, a Robinson friend for three decades, chose “The Tracks of My Tears,” first recorded by the Miracles in 1965.

“When we’re around each other, we have a great time. Neither one of us is from affluency,” Robinson said of John. “So when you come up like that and your dream is to be in show business or to sing or play and you get the chance to really do it and earn your living, and it’s your life - it’s a wonderful thing.”

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BACK INTO THE STORM

Robinson heard John Legend cover his song “Quiet Storm” in concert and told the 35-year-old soul crooner backstage that he should record a version of it.

“I look at people like John and I know that the future of show business is in good hands,” Robinson said. The two join up on a new version of the tune, which in 1975 marked Robinson’s return to the industry after a brief hiatus.

“I’m very close to that song,” he said. “It became a radio format and there are ‘quiet storm’ stations all over the country now.”

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