Hold Me Tighter

‘You Really Got a Hold on Me’ was recorded by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles on their 1962 album The Fabulous Miracles and the single charted #8 in the US.  This million-selling song received a 1998 Grammy Hall of Fame Award.  It has also been selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.  It was the second #1 R&B hit for The Miracles as well as their second Top Ten Hit on the Hot 100, and the group’s second single to sell over a million copies, after ‘Shop Around’.  Miracles leader Smokey Robinson wrote this song while he was thinking about Sam Cooke’s song ‘Bring It On Home To Me’.  Cooke had performed at Robinson’s church with his group the Soul Stirrers, and Smokey was a big fan.  In Cooke’s song the singer apologizes to his girl after dumping her, and he promises to treat her right if she will come back to him.  ‘You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me’ carries a similar sentiment, but the roles are reversed, where the girl mistreats the guy, but he loves her unconditionally.

Smokey Robinson wrote this song when he was in New York City negotiating a publishing deal, and not pleased with the way the talks were going.  He says that he wrote the song in his hotel room with the intention of writing something controversial, which he accomplished with the first line, “I don’t like you, but I love you.”  There is another ambiguous line where he says that he wants to split, but he can’t quit yet.  Love is a crazy thing, and even when she treats him badly, he still loves her madly, which seems like a conflicted and unhealthy sentiment inside of a dysfunctional relationship, that was rarely heard in songs of this era.  The guy declares that his love will remain strong, and he doesn’t need to kiss her, but he wants her to hold him tighter and squeeze him.

When Motown was growing into a dominant label in 1962, they set up a tour where many of their acts performed together around the United States.  For many people, this was their first look at Motown acts like The Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.  This was the biggest Motown hit at the time, so The Miracles closed the shows with it.  The Miracles included Smokey Robinson, Claudette Rogers Robinson (Smokey’s wife), Pete Moore, Ronnie White, and Bobby Rogers.  Marv Tarplin played guitar and The Funk Brothers were used as the session musicians on this recording.  Smokey Robinson sang lead while second tenor Bobby Rogers is featured on harmony co-lead.  This song was originally slated to be the B-side to ‘Happy Landing’, but DJs and record buyers across the nation preferred the song on the flipside that explored the feelings of a man so in love with a woman that he can’t leave her despite the fact that she treats him badly.

Just six months after The Miracles hit the charts with this song, The Beatles on Parlophone chose to record this as their first song for their second British album With The Beatles and Meet the Beatles was the US release.  Their version featured John Lennon on lead vocals, with George Harrison providing close harmonies and Paul McCartney on backing vocals.

I don’t like you, but I love you
Seems that I’m always thinking of you
Oh, oh, oh, you treat me badly
I love you madly, you really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me, you really got a hold on me, you really got a hold, baby
I don’t want you, but I need you
Don’t want to kiss you, but I need you
Oh, oh, oh, you do me wrong now
My love is strong now you really got a hold on me

You really got a hold on me, you really got a hold on me, you really got a hold, baby
I love you and all I want you to do is just hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me

I want to leave you, don’t want to stay here
Don’t want to spend another day here
Oh, oh, oh, I want to split now, I can’t quit now
You really got a hold on me, you really got a hold on me, you really got a hold, baby
I love you and all I want you to do is just hold me, please
Hold me, squeeze, hold me, hold me
You really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
I said you really got a hold on me

Written for Do You Love Me – MM Music Challenge #196

7 thoughts on “Hold Me Tighter

  1. Love the song and I think Smokey belongs up with Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, and all the great songwriters. Some songs I don’t like the Beatles version better…like Rock and Roll Music and a few others…but some I do like this one and Twist and Shout….but they are oranges and apples really…completely different versions.

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