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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