Assembling this post made me think of my favorite cousin. We lost her this year. One bond we shared was a love of movies, especially old ones. In fact, she’s the one who introduced me to so many classic films that I’ve lost track. One of them was Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.
Chaplin wrote the melody that became Smile in 1936 for Modern Times. The lyrics were written in 1954 by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. They were inspired by lines and themes from Chaplin’s movie. Smile is a bittersweet song that tries to convince you that everything will be okay as long as you smile. Perhaps that’s why Joe and Kamala are so smiley.
As with last week’s tune, Nat King Cole was the first artist to record Smile. He did the Little Tramp proud:
Judy Garland used to feature Smile in her act. The opening verse summed up her woes and her attempts to rise above them:
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
Here’s Judy on a Sunday night singing it to a grateful nation:
Smile has been recorded many times over the years. One of my favorites is by the long, tall Texan himself, Lyle Lovett:
Eric Clapton used Smile as the opening number on his 1974 comeback tour. The comeback was from the heroin addiction that nearly cost him his life:
What’s the Friday Cocktail Hour without a instrumental version by a Jazz great? This time around, my favorite pianist, Oscar Peterson.
Finally, some musical lagniappe with another song titled Smile. In this case, it was written by Gary Louris and was the title track of a 2000 album by The Jayhawks:
I usually call Smile The Jayhawks’ Sgt. Pepper because of the Beatlesque songs and lush arrangements. The strings on their Smile slay me every time. “Chin up, chin up.”
That’s it for this week. Pour yourself a drink before walking into the sunset with Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard.