Monday, June 18, 2012
ADVICE, LIKE YOUTH, PROBABLY WASTED ON THE YOUNG
Mary Schmich's "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" was published in the Chicago Tribune as a column on June 1, 1997. In her introduction to the column, she described it as the commencement speech she would give if she were asked to give one.
The column soon became the subject of an urban legend, in which it was alleged to be an MIT commencement speech given by author Kurt Vonnegut in that same year. Despite a follow-up article by Schmich on August 3, 1997, in which she referred to the "lawless swamp of cyberspace" that had made her and Kurt Vonnegut "one", by 1999 the falsely attributed story was widespread.
Schmich's column, in time, was well-received by Vonnegut. He told the New York Times, "What she wrote was funny, wise and charming, so I would have been proud had the words been mine."
The essay was used in its entirety by Australian film director Baz Luhrmann (pictured above) on his 1998 album Something for Everybody, as "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)". The song sampled Luhrmann's remixed version of the song "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" by Rozalla. Subsequently released as a single, the song opened with the words "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of '99".
Luhrmann explains that Anton Monsted, Josh Abrahams and he were working on the remix when Monsted received an email with the supposed Vonnegut speech. They decided to use it but were doubtful of getting through to Vonnegut for permission before their deadline, which was only one or two days away. While searching the internet for contact information they came upon the "Sunscreen Controversy" and discovered that Schmich was the actual author. They emailed her and, with her permission, recorded the song the next day.
The song features a spoken-word track set over a mellow backing track. The "Wear Sunscreen" speech is narrated by Australian voice actor Lee Perry. The backing is the choral version of "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)", a 1991 song by Rozalla, used in the film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. The chorus, also from "Everybody's Free", is sung by Quindon Tarver.
The song was largely obscure until Aaron Scofield, a producer in Phoenix, Arizona, edited the original 12" version into a segment of a syndicated radio show called 'Modern Mix'. This show played many stations in the United States. In Portland, Oregon - where 'Modern Mix' played on KNRK -- listeners began requesting the track. KNRK Program Director Mark Hamilton edited the song for time and began playing it regularly. He distributed the song to other PDs that he networked with and the song exploded in the US.
The song was a worldwide hit, reaching number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and number one in the United Kingdom and Ireland. I for one, am often moved by the words and the music.
And as I turn 49 years of age this very day and as my body more and more begins to remind me that I am not the indestructable force I once thought I was, it seems an appropriate time to share the song with you.
mp3 : Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (edit)
mp3 : Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (Mix)
mp3 : Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (geographic's factor 15+ mix)
Listen and weep. Or rave.
Oh and as I've had to revisit the post to put the mp3 links in....I thought it useful to left folk hear Rozalla:-