Stephin Merritt – Smile

Stephin Merritt – Smile! No One Cares How You Feel (Chords)

The collision of rictus-grinned morning TV host and the morose wit of Stephin Merritt was always going to produce hilarity. The look on Merritt’s face seems to shoot the words, “I’m going to set fire to your house and watch the smoldering remains through a huge spyglass.” I can only pray that the song’s final line of, “Everyone you despise will die so smile,” was followed by the words, “Here’s Tom with the weather.”

Merritt and Daniel ‘Lemony Snicket’ Handler have worked on a number of projects together and have, apparently at least, been friends since childhood. Handler is a fine accordion player and appeared on The Magnetic Fields’ (Merritt’s main band) album 69 Love Songs. Merritt returned the favour by forming The Gothic Archies with Handler and recording songs to accompany the Series of Unfortunate Events books. The two are a partnership made in heaven (and also a fine comedy duo).

Smile! No One Cares How You Feel has a simple repeating uke figure throughout – making it ideal for anyone learning to fingerpick on the ukulele.

Smile Stephin Merritt Ukulele Tab

The best approach to picking this is to assign a finger (or thumb) of the right hand to each string. The thumb on the g string, the index finger on the C string, the middle finger on the E string and the ring finger on the A string. The picking pattern is:

Thumb, index, middle, ring, middle, index, thumb, index (then repeat… a lot)

Once you can pick that pattern without thinking, you shouldn’t have any problem playing the song and scaring TV hosts.

View Comments


  1. Brian May 23rd, 2007 7:57 am

    absolute genius!-so dry my breakfast cup of tea dehydrated!

  2. Woodshed May 23rd, 2007 7:39 pm

    That’s a very good way of putting it. He is a genius. I half suspect that it’s him that Lemony Snicket.

    On an entirely different matter, whatever happened to Katy Hill?

  3. Mike May 25th, 2007 2:15 pm

    Thanks so much for posting that! It sounds great on my tenor with a low G, and Merritt’s voice is in my register, so even the singing isn’t too bad. If you come across the chords for any more of the songs from the Tragic Treasury collection, I’d love to know; no luck finding them online so far.

  4. Woodshed May 25th, 2007 6:12 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, Mike. I’ve got a huge list of stuff I plan to work out and post. Stephin Merritt is well represented on the list. You can definitely expect Scream and Run Away to turn up sometime in the near future.

  5. susan tobacco May 26th, 2007 5:18 pm

    thanks so much for that, I’ve been listening to the live recordings of the booksignings and swooning over Merritt’s uke playing. If anyone nails the chords to shipwrecked I’ll be eternally grateful.

  6. Woodshed May 27th, 2007 10:53 pm

    I’m not sure about the chords for the record version of Shipwrecked – there isn’t a uke on it and there are notes flying all over the place. But I will give the live version of it a go. I hope that’s good enough.

  7. Uke Hunt » Gothic Archies: Part Two - Scream and Run Away May 28th, 2007 6:34 pm

    […] I posted Smile, I was overwhelmed by a flood of/floored by a barrage of/inundated with two requests for more. In […]

  8. susan tobacco May 28th, 2007 6:38 pm

    The live version would be perfect thankyou so much – i can sort of fudge the chorus as G, C, D (changing chords on each ‘you, shipwrecked with YOU’) but the rest eludes me and I’ve probably got it wrong anyway. Fantastic site by the way.

  9. Nina Coquina May 28th, 2007 7:49 pm

    I don’t know which just about killed me more, the video or your writeup. I am still giggling.

  10. maduke June 26th, 2007 11:32 pm

    thanks! this is so convenient. video and tabs. keep on posting, this is perfect…

  11. Woodshed June 26th, 2007 11:37 pm

    Thanks, maduke. I intend to.

  12. Uke Hunt « Arts Queensland Poet in Residence August 9th, 2009 9:15 am

    […] in the sunshine down Brunswick Street today, I’d like to offer this – the amazing Stephen Merrit from Magnetic Fields, and an accompanying article from the site with the most appropriate name I could think of right now, ‘Uke(lele) […]

  13. enola d! November 20th, 2009 7:03 am

    i saw a video of stephin merrit playing this song and it looked like the first chord he was picking in was Em. plucking the g, e, g, e, g, a string. do you think that’s possible? is it the same thing?

  14. Nate Guimond May 6th, 2011 6:31 am

    This was the first song ever recorded.

  15. Woodshed May 6th, 2011 7:01 am

    Nate: I’m pretty sure that was Mary Had A Little Lamb.

  16. UKey August 7th, 2011 5:07 pm

    I have had my uke for 3 years now and it was around 100$ i still cant get it to tune…… HELP!!!!!!!!! what do i do??

  17. Woodshed August 9th, 2011 11:06 am

    UKey: Have you got a clip-on tuner? Does your uke have friction tuners? Are they tightened?

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