Today’s post is, once again, thanks to Youtube. While watching one of my favourite videos, I was intrigued by this little gem that appeared on the side. I’d never heard of ‘The Sunscreen Song’ so, of course, had to look it up.
The original piece was written by Chicago Tribune columnist, Mary Schmich, back in June 1997.
She wrote it as a hypothetical graduation speech; here’s her explanation in her own words:
“Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who’d rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there’s no reason we can’t entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.”
In her speech, she gives different pieces of advice and warnings on how to live a happier life and avoid common frustrations, all the while insisting on the wearing of sunscreen. (Here's the full version.)
In 1998/99, Baz Luhrmann decided to use it, with Schmich’s permission, in his spoken word song, ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’. Instead of opening it with the ‘class of ‘97’, Luhrmann’s version opens with the words, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of ‘99’. The spoken words are done by Lee Perry, an Australian voice actor, while the backing is the choral version of ‘Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)’ sung by Rozalla, from Luhrmann’s film ‘Romeo + Juliet’; the chorus, from the same song, is sung by Quindon Tarver.
Strangely, Schmich’s words have a habit of being misattributed. When this essay first went viral, it was mistakenly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut. Schmich’s quote – ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’ (which are part of this essay) – has been wrongly credited to Eleanor Roosevelt.
There are so many versions of this song on Youtube but this is my personal favourite; hope you enjoy it too.