The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

When You’re Smiling


Louis Armstrong is considered one of the most dominant jazz artists of all time. Beginning his rise to fame in the 1920s, his unique singing voice and take on trumpet playing took the world by storm. With its slow tempo and joyful lyrics this song encouraged the people to keep on smiling. When this song was first written in 1928 the world was a wonderful place full of wealth and cheerful citizens. However, when recorded over a month beforehand by Louis Armstrong in 1929 “When You’re Smiling” became the unintended encouragement hymn of the Great Depression. With the stock market crash and the economy plummeting, families gained hope and strength through their smiles. This song was also sung by many other famous artists including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Micheal Buble. “When You’re Smiling” has been featured in many pop-culture settings as well. We have heard the song in television shows such as Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and even in the commercial for the new Apple iPhone 4 in 2010.

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