When I See You Smile – Bad English | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 2 weeks) & Mainstream Rock (#10); 1989

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Like Damn Yankees, the membership of Bad English included some already-successful musicians. Guitarist Neal Schon had been a founding member of Journey, in which he was joined by keyboard player Jonathan Cain in 1981.

Cain’s resume included a stint with the Babys, a power-pop band that included bassist Ricky Phillips and vocalist John Waite. Waite had also hit #1 with Missing You as a solo act in 1984. After Schon recruited drummer Deen Castronovo, the band’s lineup was complete.

Taking their name from a term used in pool and putting their own “bad” spin on it, the group had seven tracks in the can when John pitched the band on tackling a song penned by his friend, Diane Warren.

Two takes into recording his vocal for When I See You Smile, Waite still wasn’t pleased with his performance, yet, his producer was. As it turned out, the producer was right. Smile matched Missing You‘s chart topping performance and brought Bad English a gold record.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Richie Zito

Lyrics Written by:

  • Diane Warren