The Genius of Charlie Chaplin
Most people are surprised to learn that the music to this favorite was written by the legendary silent film star Charlie Chaplin, whose “Little Tramp” character is perhaps the most enduring of all figures of the silent film era.
Chaplin composed the song to be used as the theme to one of his very last (and ultimately one of the best known) “silent” films, Modern Times, released in 1936.
The song didn’t become known as “Smile” until lyrics were added in 1954 by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons and it was recorded by Nat King Cole. It reached #10 on the Billboard charts that same year.
Chaplin also wrote the Academy Award winning (1952) score from his movie, Limelight.
“Smile” has been recorded and released countless times, including on the Tony Bennett / Barbra Streisand collaboration on Bennett’s 2006 Duets album.
INTERESTING NOTE ABOUT CHARLIE CHAPLIN: In 1919, Chaplin co-founded the film distributor giant United Artists, along with Hollywood heavyweights Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith. He remained on the board of UA until the 1950s.
Theme Music for Modern Times
(Music by Charles “Charlie” Chaplin — Lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons)
Smile tho’ your heart is aching,
Smile even tho’ it’s breaking,
When there are clouds in the sky
You’ll get by,
If you smile
thro’ your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow,
You’ll see the sun come shin-ing thro’ for you
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide ev-‘ry trace of sadness,
Al -‘tho a tear may be ever so near,
That’s the time,
You must keep on trying,
Smile, what’s the use of crying,
You’ll find that life is still worth-while,
If you just smile…