Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 336
Tues, Dec 18, 2012

“Everybody Hurts”
Patti Smith


“♫ Hang
on/ don’t
let yourself
go […]
you’re not

Patti Smith once said, “Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.” With the events in Connecticut, our nation is grieving now and during times of mourning many of us seek to the hand of music to ease our pain. I’ve been spinning Patti Smiths very eloquent rendition of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” One of the songs that Michael Stipe composed in 1992 as he explained when he said, “The idea was tow rite something that would appeal to someone who is having trouble…so they might be able to say, ‘God, that’s me,’ and I feel some sense of hope or that someone might care about them.”

Not many Patti Smith fans know it was Michael Stipe who was there for Smith and he convinced Patti to tour with Bob Dylan in 1995. [a year before Smith would record her vocals with Stipe on R.E.M.’s “E-Bow The Letter.”] It was the least Stipe could do, for twenty years before, with the release of her seminal album Horses, Smith was the one who changed Stipe’s own life. Patti Smith, herself, admitted to Uncut UK that she wrote her critically acclaimed and highly influential 1975’s album Horses for ‘Alienated teenagers, sensitive waifs, artistic misfits’ like Stipe as she explained, “They were my people. They were exactly the people I had in mind. I wrote “Horses” for Michael Stipe. I wrote “Horses” for Morrissey. And they found it.”

Stipe discussed why he was drawn to Patti Smith while describing the night he first listened to Horses when he told Mojo Magazine in 1996, “She looked like Morticia Addams. Horses pretty much tore my limbs off and put them back together in a different way. I was fifteen when I heard it, and that’s pretty strong stuff for a fifteen year old American middle-class white boy, sitting in his parents living room with his headphones on so they wouldn’t hear it. It was like the first time you went into the ocean and got knocked down by a wave. It [Horses] killed. It was so completely liberating. I had my parents crappy headphones and I sat up all night with a huge bowl of cherries listening to Patti Smith, eating those cherries and going Oh My God!… Holy Shit!… Fuck!… Then I was sick.”

I imagined Stipe probably got sick in 2007 when he found out his heroine was recording one of R.E.M.’s original songs on her cover album Twelve. Buck claimed that “Everybody Hurts” had an Otis Redding influenced when he said, “We went through about four different ideas and how to approach it and eventually came to that Stax, Otis Redding, “Pain in My Heart” kind of vibe. I’m not sure if Michael would have copped that reference, but to a lot of our fans it was a Staxxy-type thing.” Stipe himself described “Everybody Hurts” as a “very fucking ballsy song, It could be and can still be heard as one of the sappy, maudlin, sentimental, cry-in-your-coffee songs. But it succeeded. For Some reason, the majority of people think the song speaks to them in someway.”

I believe that Patti liked that same ballsy spirit of “Everybody Hurts;” which is probably the reason she choose to cover this hit song. Of the all R.E.M. songs, I would have never thought that Patti would have covered “Everybody Hurts.” I have to admit, “Hurts” is probably my least favorite song on Automatic. “Everybody Hurts” is the modern day pop anthem that Smith gives new life on her very stirring rendition of this hit song from Automatic for The People.

Although, the original may have seemed a little over sentimental, Patti’s cover of “Everybody Hurts” is a song we really need to feel right now. It’s been a very stressful weekend for all us. Patti Smith’s R.E.M. cover is the perfect song to mourn and put all in our lives in sound introspective. “Everybody Hurts.” Patti Smith said it best when she said, “For life is the best thing we have in this existence. And if we should desire to believe in something, it should be a beacon within. This beacon being the sun, sea, and sky, our children, our work, our companions and, most simply put, the embodiment of love.” Sometimes singing wisdom from songs like “Everybody Hurts” is the first step towards healing with the sounds we truly love.

Press the button to experience Patti Smith’s eloquent cover of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.”
Everybody Hurts (Album Version)