Even if you don’t know Smokey Robinson by name, you almost definitely know his work. The 1960s were sort of his golden era as a songwriter — during that period of time, he wrote or co-wrote some of the most enduring hit songs of his generation, including “My Girl,” “I Second That Emotion,” and “Ain’t That Peculiar.” And then there was “Cruisin’,” the song featured in the Allstate commercial. “Cruisin'” was released in 1979 on the solo album Where There’s Smoke…, and offered Robinson a return to the spotlight following a few relatively quiet years. With a backing track by Marv Tauplin and Smokey’s lyrics and vocals, it peaked at number four on the Billboard Top 100 before going on to be included in the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack and, no kidding, experience a re-release as a duet sung by Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis. Yes, seriously.
Robinson, in an interview shared by SoulTracks, has stated that “Cruisin'” was a challenging and time-consuming song to write. “When [Marv Tauplin] gave me this particular tape of music, I loved it… I played it forever -– in my car, when I got home, over and over. I wrote two or three other songs to that music but they didn’t work. Nothing fit this music. This song came in bits and pieces. ‘Cruisin” took five years to write.” With that much work having gone into it, he must be grateful to see that his music is now in good hands.