One Heartbeat

Album: One Heartbeat (1987)
Charted: 10
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Songfacts®:

  • This was the second single and title track from Smokey Robinson's 1987 album. The song was written by American session musician Brian Ray along with one-time Tommy Tutone keyboardist Steve LeGassick.
  • Brian Ray told the story of the song during a 2010 interview with Gibson.com: "I had two brilliant friends who were in the band Crackin' with me, who went on to produce The Temptations and Smokey Robinson. So they called me up and said they were producing Smokey Robinson. And I had been a very serious songwriter for a couple of years straight, giving my whole self to songwriting. So I said, 'Great, I would love to submit a song.' They said, 'Hey, you know what? Thanks, but Smokey's pretty good and he doesn't need your songs.' [laughs] And I was all dejected and I came back to my writing partner, Steve LeGassick, and I said, 'Hey, Steve. They said, "No thanks.'" And he said, 'Well, you've got a great title, "One Heartbeat." Let's just do it anyway and submit it anyway even though they said 'no.'" And I said, 'You're right, let's just do it.' And that's a 'just say yes' moment. We finished the song, finished the demo for the song, turned it in – even though we knew we had been told not to – on a Friday, on a cassette. It was 1986. We turned it in on a Friday and we get a call Sunday night saying, 'Smokey loves the song. Bring all the stuff you used for the demo' and 'We're going to do it just like the demo on Thursday. 32 track digital at Conway.' That's one of those crazy moments. Then it becomes an album cut. It's definitely in. Then it becomes the album title, and then it becomes the second single. And now it's up to three million air plays – all because we didn't take 'no' for an answer and we said 'yes.'"
  • This was the second single from Robinson's One Heartbeat album, following "Just To See Her." The songs marked a comeback for Robinson, who hadn't had a Top 10 hit since "Being With You" in 1981, and had been struggling with his personal life since the death of his close friend Marvin Gaye in 1984.

    Robinson's resurgence coincided with a song in his honor by the British group ABC, whose song "When Smokey Sings" was also a Top 10 hit in 1987.
  • The music video, which was directed by Greg Gold, follows the Kenny G formula for VH1 domination: Performing on a beach. Robinson was never an MTV star, but he was perfectly suited for VH1, which launched in 1985.
  • Kenny G played the saxophone on this song, although that's definitely not him playing it in the video. The song's writer Brian Ray handled drum programming and guitar, and the song's other writer, Steve LeGassick, played keyboards along with Robbie Buchanan.

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