raincitygirl: (Jyn Erso (sleeting))
[personal profile] raincitygirl
I've been listening to the Harry Connick, Jr. cover of Smile a lot recently. Written originally by Charlie Chaplin as an instrumental piece, lyrics written by some people less famous than Chaplin called Geoffrey Parsons and John Turner (presumably not the same John Turner who was briefly Prime Minister of Canada back when I was in preschool). And it's a great song, don't get me wrong, but when you think hard about it, the lyrics are a little...fucked-up.

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
for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although 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 worthwhile
If you’ll just

But I love the song anyway, so I probably shouldn't put too much thought into it. Otherwise, I'll just end up giving myself a complex. And there are lots of hummable tunes out there with MUCH worse lyrics, after all!

So, what are people up to this fine Saturday evening?

Date: 2017-06-18 07:06 am (UTC)
sollers: me in morris kit (Default)
From: [personal profile] sollers
The lyrics are very typica l of the sort of thing that my parents' generation took a great deal of comfort from during WWII. They really needed someone telling them things like that when it got really bad; I was born after, but of course the stories were all around me, and in my mind I associated this song with the photos of the devastation left after Swansea was bombed.

Date: 2017-06-19 03:02 pm (UTC)
sollers: me in morris kit (Default)
From: [personal profile] sollers
There really wasn't any alternative; we would have needed therapists for half the country - even if nothing terrible had happened to someone, there was always the chance that it could. My mother, a schoolteacher, was sometimes in far greater danger than my father, a stores officer in the RAF. My father's home, where I grew up, was in a normally quiet residential part of West London: three houses a hundred yards away were destroyed by a bomb, and a V weapon landed half a dozen streets away.

People had to keep going, so "grin and bear it" was the usual advice. Anything else could have led to a total collapse of morale.

Date: 2017-06-18 04:47 pm (UTC)
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
From: [personal profile] twistedchick
I associate the words with Chaplin's life -- which started out desperately, desperately poor in London, and that early poverty affected everything else, including his Little Tramp.

Date: 2017-06-19 07:04 pm (UTC)
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
From: [personal profile] twistedchick
The common psychotherapeutic language that has crept into English did not exist before the mid-late 1980s. It just wasn't a part of common concepts. If you take all of that out, you may have a closer view of the way things were. There were other tactics besides 'toughing it out' -- and I think that song is not about being tough at all, but allowing yourself to feel happiness even when things around you are not good, which is a different though allied thing. It's like the Buddhist story of the poor guy who is chased over a cliff by a tiger -- high cliff, big tiger, and he's holding onto a root or branch and in front of him is a strawberry plant, with ripe berries so he eats one and says, "Mmmmm, how delicious!"

I wish I had a good biography of Chaplin -- I know I read one a few years ago -- if I find it again I'll mention it in my journal.


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