The Way You Do The Things You Do

Album: Meet The Temptations (1964)
Charted: 11
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • One of the most memorable lyrics in music history, this song is a great bit of romantic poetry, listing all the wonderful things about the lady. It's not Shakespeare, but it's very effective. From the first lines, it's clear the singer is on to something:

    You got a smile so bright
    You know you could have been a candle


    Some other analogies for the lady:

    Broom - she sweeps him off his feet
    Perfume - she smells so sweet
    Flower - she's pretty
    Crook - she stole his heart
    Schoolbook - she's smart
    Money - she made his life rich
    Honey - she's sweet
  • Smokey Robinson wrote this after Berry Gordy implored his Motown writers to come up with something for The Temptations. Gordy wrote his own song for the group, but he put it on the shelf when enough people at Motown told him that Smokey's song was better. Robinson became the primary songwriter for The Temptations.
  • This was the first hit for Temptations, whose previous seven singles all flopped. It established a template for more hits by the group, which became a marquee act on the label.
  • A dancer named Cholly Atkins was brought in to do choreography for The Temptations, which was particularly effective on this song, where they did literal interpretations of the lyrics, miming sweeping the floor or putting on cologne, for example.
  • This was the first song on the first Temptations album, which was a collection of their singles released in 1965. At the time, Motown focused on releasing hit singles, and album sales were secondary. Singles were more profitable because more people bought them.
  • Otis Williams of The Temptations recalled in Mojo magazine February 2009: "The first time we heard the song, we loved it. The melody swung, and the lyrics had lots of charm. They were silly in a way, talking about a girl you loved as a candle, a handle, a schoolbook, a cool crook, a broom, a perfume, but, typical Smokey, he made it work. It got a good response whenever we did it live, so our hopes were up. We knew from past experience that even the best tracks don't always click."
  • Bobby Rogers, who was a member of Smokey's group, The Miracles, helped him finish writing this song and is listed as the co-writer.
  • Smokey Robinson told Mojo October 2014 that Curtis Mayfield was his inspiration for this tune. "He had a song out with The Impressions called 'It's Alright' and they sang with this great harmony and I knew The Temptations could sing like that because they had a great harmony sound," Smokey explained, "and Curtis had this high voice like Eddie Kendricks and I wanted to simulate that if possible."
  • UB40 covered this in 1990. Their version hit #6 in the US.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 23rd 1964, "The Way You Do The Things You Do" by the Temptations entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #76; and on April 5th it peaked at #11 (for 1 week) and also spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...
    See next post below...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 8th 1978, "Way You Do The Things You Do" by Rita Coolidge entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 5th it peaked at #20 {for 2 weeks} and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #9 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Of course the original version was released by the Temptations; their version peaked at #1 on *Cash Box's Top R&B Singles chart and #11 on the Top 100...
    * From Nov. 1963 to Jan. 1965 Billboard did not publish an R&B Singles chart}.
  • Clubber Lange from Ocean Gate, NjI love the term "cool crook"....Oh Smokey....
  • P.a. from Paris, --I heard the idea for the song came when playing a little game on the bus to pass time (while touring with the Miracles). They were trying to come up with pickup lines like the ones that make up all the verses.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThis was featured in the 1990 TV film "It", based on the Stephen King novel
  • Kenneth from Cleveland, OhThis is the only song to be a pop hit in four decades.The Tempts original in the 60's.Rita Coolidge in the 70's,Hall and Oates with Ruffin and Kendricks in the 80's and UB40 in the 90's.
see more comments

Rebecca St. JamesSongwriter Interviews

This Australian Christian music star found herself a California surfer guy, giving new meaning to her song "Wait For Me."

The Truth Is Out There: A History of Alien SongsSong Writing

The trail runs from flying saucer songs in the '50s, through Bowie, blink-182 and Katy Perry.

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"Songwriter Interviews

Ian talks about his 3 or 4 blatant attempts to write a pop song, and also the ones he most connected with, including "Locomotive Breath."

Francis Rossi of Status QuoSongwriter Interviews

Doubt led to drive for Francis, who still isn't sure why one of Status Quo's biggest hits is so beloved.

Millie JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Outrageously gifted and just plain outrageous, Millie is an R&B and Rap innovator.

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top ProverbSong Writing

How a country weeper and a blues number made "rolling stone" the most popular phrase in rock.