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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Smile/What A Wonderful World by Ima & Figure Skater, Mao Asada

Thought for the Day: As the northeast of the United states braces itself for yet another winter storm, today's two classic songs, "Smile" and "What a Wonderful World," offer a ray of sunshine as does the message from a great Olympic skater who performed an amazing long program with no possible medal in sight.

Last week while watching the closing ceremony for the ice skating competitions of the Sochi Olympics, there were some amazing performances. It was a pleasure to watch the skaters relieved of the pressures of competition enjoying themselves on the ice. Many of the performances were superior and could have placed some of the athletes higher on their final standings. I chose a clip of Japan's Mao Asada. The back story is that Asada came in a shocking sixteenth place in the ladies short program at the Olympic Games in Sochi. Although Asada who had been a medal favorite coming into the Sochi Olympics since she had been the silver medalist at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, had no chance of a medal, she excelled in the long program. Skating twelfth of the 24 competitors in the event she performed a breathtaking flawless free skate to Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2." She landed all of her jumps including the triple axel on which she fell in her short program. At the end of the free skate, Asada who plans to retire after this Olympics, broke down in tears of joy.

      In the clip below Japan's Mao Asada, who had been criticized by her nation's Olympic committee, sent a message that she is still smiling! She shook hands with a photographer while skating to a medley of "Smile" and  "What A Wonderful World." In this clip, taken from the photographer's perspective, you do not see how surprised he was, but it was very funny. I did not recognize the singer, but especially loved the rendition of "Smile," a classic song presenting a psychological tactic of smiling to help pull through tough times. Her name is Ima and the tune is from an album called "Smile."

When I looked up the Song Smile, I discovered that the melody was written by the great Charlie Chaplin for the film Modern Times! I did not know that Chaplin composed the music to many of his films and was an accomplished, creative piano player.. The lyrics were  written later by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. This classic has been covered by Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Justin Bieber, Eric Clapton, Janelle Monae and Michael Jackson, to name a few. I decided to share this version, with Vocals & Guitar: Gord Jantzen. Click to see this version (I could not download it from YouTube, but it is well worth viewing):

"What a Wonderful World" is a children's song written by Bob Thiele (as "George Douglas") and George David Weiss. It was first recorded by Louis Armstrong and released as a single in 1967. It has also been recorded by a long list of great singers.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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