"Smile" is an instrumental by Charlie Chaplin, originally appearing in the movie, Modern Times, in 1936. The song title and lyrics were added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons in 1954. It was covered by Dave Gahan and Soulsavers and is the ninth track on Imposter.


(from Nat King Cole's version)

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 smile
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 smile

Dave's Take

"This also goes back to my childhood. I was enamored by [Charlie Chaplin]. He was the ultimate imposter, having created this character who made us laugh and cry. I could identify with him being a sad clown with a dark presence. Plus, I think the song is one of the best ever written — there's real space and simplicity that allows the listener to create their own narrative. My one stipulation was to keep the arrangement as minimal as possible, and I did it in one take. All of the songs on Imposter wound up being just like that, but this one being so bare, I wanted to hit it in one performance. By the end of that song, I'm either laughing or crying, or a bit of both at the same time. When I was done with that in the studio, I had to go for a walk. I felt as if I had no clothes on."1

Dave also talks about this song in this video at the 14:17 mark:

My Take

For this, I listened to the original 1936 instrumental by Charlie Chaplin, the 1954 version by Nat King Cole which was the first recorded with lyrics, and the 1995 version by Michael Jackson (because why not? He said that it was his favorite song). All of these versions employ the heavy use of strings, giving it that old-timey, romantic feel. It is also clear that this song requires a simple crooning tone, so no embellishments and definitely no rock-and-roll shouting. I can say that if Dave employs that beautiful and simple sound in his version of the vocals, then he is going to have us all absolutely melting! He has done it before in songs like "Stay", "Bitter Apple", "Presence of God", and many more. This song is a very popular choice to cover by many artists, so now that it is Dave's turn, let's see what he does with this!

Okay, let me just say upfront that Dave's version of this managed to put me in tears! The way he sings this is so gentle and deliberate that I feel like he is right there next to me giving me comfort and encouragement. I also feel like I can almost see every facial movement of his as he sings this, right down to his lips turning up into his signature smile at the very end. I also really like the lounge-y ambience that the soft piano and standup bass give here; the whole thing just feels so intimate, making the listener really feel like he is singing this just for them. And this is such a classy and classic song for Dave to cover...I mean, who could've imagined years ago that the lead singer of Depeche Mode- the one who salaciously prances around singing numbers like "Blasphemous Rumours," "Master and Servant," and "Stripped" could do justice to a Charlie Chaplin original? I never could've imagined it, but here we are.

Music Video

There is no music video for this song.


  1. "In Conversation: Dave Gahan on Finding His Voice with 'Imposter'", Flood Magazine (November 16, 2021)