The One '90s Song That Never Got Any Love
When thinking back to the massively wonderful catalogue of '90s music available for our listening pleasure, it's easy to assume that, along the way, some of our favorite songs were lost in the popular milieu or simply weren't as widely beloved as we thought. This is the case with Baz Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)," the one '90s song that not only has its roots in cinema, but is also wholly emblematic of the optimism and nostalgia of the era. It's a song that may not have gotten as much air time as "Wannabe" or "Good Vibrations" but damn, it's so full of wisdom and meaning — and written with a unique pop sensibility — that it's a crime it flew low on our radar.
"Everybody's Free" is the brainchild and baby of perennial fave Baz Luhrmann circa 1997. Back then, Luhrmann was known as he is known now: the director and writer of some truly great films like Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann has, to date, made only one foray into music: The 1998 album Something For Everybody, which housed "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" and cemented Luhrmann's status as a man of many talents. The song itself actually has a intriguing history but, moreover, it's rife with advice and written in such a way that it is unlike any other pop hit of its time. Take my word on this: merely listening to "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" will make you too cool for school.
Framed as a commencement speech for the graduating classes of 1999, the song is a spoken word, voiced by Luhrmann in a rather stout American accent. With an upbeat electronic score pulsing underneath it, the omniscient speaker delivers lines of wisdom from the more mature position he holds to those a generation or two younger than him. The advice encompasses as diverse range of topics, is often quippy in its delivery but all of it holds water. Here's a little taste:
Remember compliments you receive; forget the insults
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters
Throw away your old bank statements
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life.
"Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" is a truly inspiring song. It's the perfect time to discover or re-discover this classic, especially in the depths of a hot summer where you might be reclining poolside with a cold drink. It's a song that will relax you, inspire you and take you on a cheerily contemplative mental journey. Have a listen below and be prepared to fall in love with this '90s gem.