‘Pure Smokey’ is the eighth song on George Harrison’s seventh solo album Thirty Three & ⅓.

‘Pure Smokey’ started out with nice chord changes. I’ve always liked Smokey Robinson and he’s probably one of the best songwriters around.
He writes great lyrics and great melodies, and he is fantastic to see in concert, because one tends to forget how many good tunes he has written. He brought out an album called Pure Smokey, and I’ve met him once or twice.

Sometimes you get an idea and write a specific song, but other times – often – it turns itself into whatever it’s going to be – with the effort put into it – and this turned into ‘Pure Smokey’.

I’m trying to make the point – if I like someone I want to say ‘I like you’. I don’t want to die and then to think ‘Oh I forgot to tell them I liked them’.

Throughout my lifetimes I’d hesitate
I’d feel some joy
But before I showed my thanks
It became too late

So this song turned into an all purpose thing of generally trying to show appreciation, and then to focus on my appreciation of Smokey.

George Harrison
I Me Mine

‘Pure Smokey’ was Harrison’s second tribute to Smokey Robinson, following ‘Ooh Baby (You Know That I Love You)’ on 1975’s Extra Texture (Read All About It).

The Beatles had covered Robinson’s ‘You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me’ for their second album With The Beatles in 1963. Harrison mentioned the song in ‘Pure Smokey’: “And anyone who hears, hears that voice so free/He really got a hold on me/And I thank you Lord for giving to us pure Smokey”.

That was a wonderful, flattering thing for him to feel like that, and to write about it, so that the world could know that he felt like that. It was wonderful to me, and I’m very flattered by that.
Smokey Robinson, 2014

‘True Love’ was released as a single on 18 February 1977, with ‘Pure Smokey’ on the b-side. It failed to chart.

Previous song: ‘True Love’
Next song: ‘Crackerbox Palace’
Published: |