Illustration by Ratomir Ruvarac from Miodrag Borisavljevic's children's book Riverbanks of the Forest, 1961
I was thinking about Smokey Robinson (see my non-sequitors about him in yesterday's Sam Cook writeup), and I realized that I had mentioned one of my favorite "Why Does This Exist?" songs a while ago, a song called "It" by written Smokey Robinson. In 1959, Motown's Barry Gordy was releasing cheap rip-offs of novelty hits to get some quick cash, and he tasked up-and-comer Robinson to write a song like "The Flying Purple People Eater", which had been a hit in '58. This was several months before "Shop Around" broke as a hit, so Smokey was willing to take a break from the Miracles to record the song with fellow Miracle Ronnie White under the name Ron & Bill (Robinson's first name is William, apparently.)
The resulting song, "It", is surprisingly awesome - Robinson and White replicate the sound of the Everly Brothers over a calypso backing track, singing about a monster that showed up at Robinson's house in the middle of the night. After running away, the monster (called It) apparently called Robinson on the phone to sing him the song's wordless chorus. I like to imagine a world where "It" was a smash hit, and Ron & Bill toured the land as the country's preeminent acoustic folk duo, singing close-harmony versions of "Shop Around", "Tracks of My Tears", and "I Second That Emotion." Alas, it was not to be, and Ron & Bill never recorded a second single.
"It" by Ron & Bill