That Smiling Face

Album Cover: No Code

"Are you woman enough to be my man?"
Pearl Jam / Hail Hail

Posted on February 10, 2013 8:22 PM in Music

My dad taught me the art of making mixtapes probably before he taught me to ride a bike. He provided me with all the blank cassettes I could possibly need, and I used my little boombox to listen to the radio throughout the day and record songs that I liked. When I got a little older, I used a hand-me-down stereo system hooked up to a hand-me-down record player (hand-me-downs from my dad were one of the biggest perks of being the oldest son) to make mixtapes from my dad's collection of 45s. I enjoyed making mixtapes so much that I kept on doing it well into my teenage years, and eventually built up the collection of over a hundred tapes that currently sits up in my attic.

Of all the mixtapes I recorded, there was one that I might have listened to the most. Up until tonight, I could only gather that I had recorded it sometime in the 80s. I don't know if any of it came from the radio or if it was all sourced from my dad's 45s, but I know it ran the gamut from songs like Bill Haley and the Comets' "See You Later Alligator" to Johnny Preston's "Running Bear" to Barry Mann's "Who Put the Bomp". It was more eclectic than that, though, because it also featured an undeniably 80s synthpop song that has stuck in my head for decades.

Over the past several years, I've tried to find both that mixtape and the name of that one particular song to no avail. The latter has driven me more and more crazy as of late, since I'm usually pretty good at remembering or picking out a few lyrics in order to find a song via Google. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I had always misinterpreted the lyrics of the only part of the song I could truly remember, so it left me severely handicapped when trying to track down the song through lyrics alone. I even went so far as to try humming the tune into midomi, but no dice.

Tonight, I gave Google another try and searched for a portion of the lyrics I was pretty sure about: "if I am right or if I'm wrong." Buried among some Roberta Flack-related links was a single link to the lyrics to a song named "That Smiling Face." I was pleasantly surprised to read through the lyrics and realize that "That Smiling Face," a song by a German synthpop group named Camouflage that was released in the U.S. in 1988, was the song that had been eluding me for so long.

Here's a video of the band performing "That Smiling Face" in Dresden in 2006:

Long live the 80s!

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