Friday, March 30, 2012

Sad Songs (Blogfest entry.)

When I first read the title of this blogfest I knew there was only one possibility for me.  There is one song which, when I'm sad, I return to again and again. It's simple, powerful, and beautiful. I enjoyed it so much I even wrote a paper on the symbolism of the music video. (The video is at the bottom of the post, by the way.)

In 1992 R.E.M. drummer, Bill Berry, was sickened by news of teenage suicides. He decided to write something specifically for teenagers contemplating suicide. What we got was "Everybody Hurts" from the incredible R.E.M. album Automatic For the People of that same year.

       When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
       When you're sure you've had enough of this life, 

       well hang on...

 It's worth noting that R.E.M. was well known for mumbling from the lead singer, Michael Stipe, and obscure lyrics with incomprehensible meaning.  In this song, however, Stipe sings clearly. Every word is delivered with care and distinction. The lyrics are simple. Sometimes ridiculously so.

        If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone...

Later, Berry and Stipe explained that because this song was written for teens they wanted to keep in clear and simple. What's amazing is how such a simple string of words turned into something so beautiful. A survey done in the UK created a list called "Songs most likely to make a grown man cry."  Everybody Hurts was at the very top of the list. Clearly there is some power there.

         Well, everybody hurts sometimes,
         Everybody cries. And everybody hurts sometimes...

 The addition of the music video, in my opinion, only heightens the profound feelings of the song. Whoever decided to add the thoughts of the people in the cars was a genius. The feeling of slowing into an impossible traffic jam, the people all sitting in their cars, next to each other without talking... It's powerful, but then you add some of the sentiments and you begin to feel a connection.  For me it's that first moment with the mother in her car with her child climbing over the seats. "I had no idea" are her unspoken words.

      'Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends
      Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand. 

      Oh, no. Don't throw your hand

 There are strong religious overtones in the video, which I don't pretend to understand the meaning behind. Maybe it was something from the band, maybe the director, son of Ridley Scott. I don't know if it was an encouraging or disparaging message.. who cares.   Just give this a watch and see how  you feel.

I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.  


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L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's a very moving song.

I have a friend who is a big REM fan and she can clearly sing It's the End of the World as We Know It.

Angela Brown said...

This is one of those songs that's just so universal. As I listened, I got that tingling in my skin. Shivers from the words.

baygirl32 said...

This song gives me goosebumps every time I hear it! great choice

M Pax said...

I have loved REM for a long time. I almost put this on my list.

Kate said...

Its an amazing song, very emotive and a great choice.

Jennie Bailey said...

I am now a new follower. I just turned to my husband and said in exasperation, "Everybody Hurts" which he replied, "Oooooh yeah. That's a GREAT song!" Cannot believe that I forgot about the BEST sad song EVER!

Denise Mitchell said...


What you've written about this song is fantastic and has made me see Everybody Hurts in a new light. I always loved it purely for the music and lyrics and hadn't given it much thought beyond that but now, after reading what you've written, it's even more poignant.

Thanks for enlightening me!

JeffO said...

Great post about a great song. I can't believe I left this one off my list, but you said this better than I could.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Fantastic choice. I could hear the song playing in my head while I read your post. Well done.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

you know, i never knew any of that about this song. i'd only ever heard it in films and whatnot when people were making jokes about sad stuff.
thanks for telling us about it.
touching. :)

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

What a great way to present your choice. Very nice.

Sarah Pearson said...

It's been to long since I watched the video. Thanks for making me teary!

N. R. Williams said...

It was very helpful that you added the lyrics to your post. Suicide is such a terrible thing.

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