Everybody Hurts

Album: Automatic For The People (1992)
Charted: 7 29
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Most of this song was written by R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry. He quit the band in 1997 shortly before recording their album Up. After that album, the band almost broke up, but decided to continue as a trio. Berry became a farmer.
  • This is an anti-suicide song. Berry wanted to reach out to people who felt they had no hope.
  • On many R.E.M. songs, Michael Stipe purposefully sings indecipherably. He sang very clearly on this one though, because he didn't want his message getting lost. "I don't remember singing it," he noted in Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011, "but I still kind of can't believe my voice is on this recording. It's very pure. This song instantly belonged to everyone except us, and that honestly means the world to me."
  • While Berry wrote this, he did not actually play on it. A Univox drum machine took care of that for him. R.E.M. bass player Mike Mills claims he bought the drum machine for $20, but it was perfect for the song's "metronome-ish feel." He told Pulse magazine in 1992: "Mike (Stipe) and I cut it live with this dumb drum machine which is just as wooden as you can get. We wanted to get this flow around that: human and non-human at the same time."
  • The string arrangement was done by Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.
  • The Nevada legislature commended R.E.M. for "encouraging the prevention of teen suicides," noting this song as an example (Nevada has a high rate of teen suicide).

    Michael Stipe is proud that R.E.M. created a song that actually saved lives. He told Mojo: "It saved a few. People have told me. And I love hearing that. That's for me, that's my Oscar, that's my gold on a shelf right there... that something we did impacted someone's life in such a profound way. That's a beautiful thing."
  • The music video was directed by Jake Scott, son of movie director Ridley Scott, famous for movies like Blade Runner (1982) and Gladiator (2000). Filmed on Interstate 10 in San Antonio, Texas, the clip is set during a traffic jam where people's thoughts are revealed through subtitles.
  • The video won four MTV Video Music Awards: Breakthrough Video, Best Direction, Best Editing and Best Cinematography. When it won for Best Direction, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who were nominated for "Sabotage," got to the podium before Michael Stipe. Dressed in character as his Swiss alter ego Nathanial Hornblower, he went on a rant, calling it a "farce" before being ushered off.

    Disrupting an award for such a somber song is in poor taste, but it was hard to take this awards show seriously. Hosted by Roseanne Barr, it is best remembered for a cringe-worthy kiss between newlyweds Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley. MTV didn't harbor any resentment: they gave the Beastie Boys the Video Vanguard award in 1998.
  • The album title was inspired by Weaver D's soul food diner in Athens, Georgia. When you ordered food there, they answered by saying "automatic." They had a sign that said "Delicious Fine Foods - Automatic For The People."
  • This was used on an episode of The Simpsons when Marge is walking in a thunderstorm and thinks she has no friends. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dawson - Draper, UT
  • Peter Buck wrote in the liner notes of the album In Time - The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 that "the reason the lyrics are so atypically straightforward is because it was aimed at teenagers."
  • In February 2010 a charity cover was recorded by a collection of artists, Helping Haiti, to raise money for the victims of the earthquake that devastated the country. It sold over 200,000 copies in its first two days making it one of the quickest selling singles of the 21st century in the United Kingdom. Joseph Kahn directed a music video for the cover that features cameos from the performers and footage from the earthquake's aftermath. Kahn is known for directing clips for the likes of Eminem, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift.
  • This topped a poll compiled by PRS For Music, which collects and pays royalties to musicians in the UK, of the songs most likely to make a grown man cry. Second in the list came Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven" followed by Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." PRS chairman Ellis Rich said: "From this chart, it is clear that a well-written tear-jerker is one that people can relate to and empathise with. It is this lyrical connection that can reach deep down emotionally and move even the strongest of men."
  • In a rare authorized comedic use of this song, Mayim Bialik's character on The Big Bang Theory plays this on the harp when she is upset over being left behind by her two girlfriends, who are shopping for bridesmaids dresses. Her "boyfriend," played by Jim Parsons, comes by to cheer her up, resulting in an awkward cuddle scene.
  • Peter Buck likens the vibe of this song to Otis Redding's "Pain in My Heart." He wrote in the liner notes for Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011: "I'm not sure if Michael would have copped that reference, but to a lot of our fans it was a Staxxy-type thing."
  • This was used in the 1992 film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, starring Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry and Rutger Hauer. Speaking of the subsequent TV series, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Peter Buck said: "I've never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the idea that high school is a portal to hell seems pretty realistic to me."
  • Pink and Kelly Clarkson sang this to open the 2017 American Music Awards. They were introduced by Jamie Foxx, who said the purpose was to "pay respect to all those affected by the events of the past year," meaning the hurricanes, shootings and hate rallies that took place.
  • On February 15, 2019, US President Donald Trump retweeted a video set to this song showing his Democratic opponents looking demoralized during his State Of The Union speech 10 days earlier. R.E.M., vocal opponents of Trump, got it removed from Twitter the next day for copyright violation. The band sent a tweet asking congress and the media to "ghost this faker!"
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Comments: 59

  • Laura from SwanseaDoes anyone know of any media supporting the statement 'This is an anti-suicide song. Berry wanted to reach out to people who felt they had no hope.' ? I have also heard that Everybody Hurts was used in a 1995 Samaritans campaign but cannot find evidence of this anywhere online. I want to use these facts for my uni work but cannot cite my sources if I cannot find them... thanks in advance!
  • Bubba from PonokaAnyone who thinks the traffic jam has anything to do with "everybody hurting" is badly missing the point of the video. It has nothing to do with that. It's just a vehicle to be able to show that sometimes...everybody hurts. It's a powerful video, and to someone feeling depressed over anything, it provides a cathartic experience. I suffered from depression for a long time, and I found out during the course of my recovery that I shared the same thought that a lot of people suffering hold--that I was somehow unique. That no one was going through what I was going through. I used to look at people, anyone, and say, "man, why can't I be like that guy...without these problems...without feeling this awful way?" What the video tries to show (and does it beautifully), is that when you look around, almost everyone you see has some problem on their mind--something going on in their life that is bringing them down (or that CAN be bringing them down). As inconsequential as it seems, realizing that fact really can help. Life is series of problems--if you're really living. Beyond that message is the metaphor of "getting on with life...taking action...and overcoming the problems of life" (walking out of the traffic jam, instead of remaining "stuck"). I listen to the song often, and watch the video every once in a while. I don't regard it as a depressing video or song. It's a fantastic song that has helped a lot of people. Or, at least one...me.
  • Emmy from Bellville, OnSaddest song ever.
  • Kimberly from Landing, NjWe all feel the pain of life and dont we allways learn from it, if we didnt feel pain we would never learn from our mistakes.
  • Rocco from New York City, NyTo Terry in Vermillion, OH. Thanks for the link to the TAC. Very powerful video which I made my college students watch. It definitely leaves an impact.
  • Charlotte from Mission, TxSo sorry. Guess I was misinformed?:)
  • Charlotte from Mission, TxI thought Simply Red was the group who wrote the song and released it in 1992. They performed it way before REM did.
  • Terry from Vermilion, OhThis song is now used in a safety video for T A C (Transport Accident Commission) of Victoria, Australia!!
    This is the link for that video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2mf8DtWWd8#
    It is Very Intense and Real!! The song fits the video perfectly!! This video deals with serious subject matter and is not
    recommended for kids.
  • Michael Scott from Punta Gorda, FlI use to play a simular version of this music on piano since the early 80's. I was suprised when I heard it on the their soundtrack. I know there is no way it could have originated from me. I have always liked the harp from the Marx Bros. and when Eric Carmen used classical music for "All by Myself" I recognized it from the 70's. I only used 3 instead of the 6 notes that are used in this while I use the right pedal to recur the echo. I really have no idea how to play but since seeing Romeo and Juliet played and a couple others I would spend hours at public pianos where ever I found them in Athens.
  • Carlos from Guatemala City, GuatemalaI have a theory that probably someone has mentioned already somewhere. The video of this song can be partially inspired by the opening minutes of Fellini's "8 1/2".
  • Justin from Salem, NjThis song is featured at the end of the television series NCIS episode "Grace Period"
  • Joann from Portsmouth, Vathis song is so into the hardships people encouyer in everyday life, whether it a death of a family member, friend, breakups, anything that goes wrong in someone's life. I know cause been through heartache myself but it all gets better in time. So having someone to
  • Mj from San Antonio, TxIn response to this:
    You are incorrect, it was NOT filmed in Dalls/Ft. Worth..It was filmed here in San Antonio, TX...everyone may have been "stuck" as you put it, but I've been there more times than I care to admit, and people are always "stuck" in the cities that are plagued with traffic and construction...as you put it:The video to this song was filmed in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and all those people were really stuck. I'm sure that they had actors though.
    - Andi, I don't like it here, TX......that can be further from the truth.....this site tells the truth, it was filmed here in San Antonio.....see 7th paragraph from the top which states:::The music video was directed by Jake Scott, son of movie director Ridley Scott, famous for movies like Blade Runner (1982) and Gladiator (2000). It was filmed on Interstate 10 in San Antonio, Texas....get your facts straight dips--t
    oh, and now dont be depressed because it wasnt where you thought. If you do, listen to this song again, so it can help you
  • Heather from Middletown, Oh * The original R.E.M. recording was featured in the film Bewitched (2005) and TV series Party of Five.

    * The Scottish band Franz Ferdinand mentions the song in their song "You're the Reason I'm Leaving" from the album titled "You Could Have It So Much Better". The lyrics are "the radio sings that 'Everybody' song by R.E.M."

    * The song was also used in the television drama My So-Called Life (1994). By the time the Pilot episode aired, the song was a hit.

    * The song was also used on the show Daria (1997-2001) in the episode "Road Worrier". In a slow-motion scene taking place in traffic congestion, the character states, "This is like that R.E.M. video, except you can't read anyone's mind", and a subtitle articulates Daria's mind stating "Thank God".

    * In the second-season episode "The Fire" of the U.S. version of the television show The Office, Dwight listens to the song in his car after Michael has castigated him for not having attended business school.

    * The song was covered by Daniel Ho (as 'The Coconutz') for the Forgetting Sarah Marshall soundtrack, although it was not featured in the film. The lyrics were translated into Hawaiian for the soundtrack (the film is mostly based in Hawaii). Ho also covered other 'breakup songs' "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" and "Nothing Compares 2 U" in a similar style for the soundtrack - only the latter was actually featured in the film itself, in the end credits.
  • Hugh from Cambridge, United KingdomThis song is about depression. I can relate.
  • Abe from San Antonio, TxFYI: To the person who said this was filmed in Dallas Ft. Worth area, you are quite incorrect. I was part of this music video and citizens were paid extra for their time spent here, they weren't really "stuck". They had a choice to be there. I was one of the few that got a few seconds in the video. The funny part was they gave me a quote in Spanish because I must "look" Mexican, but I don't even speak spanish!!!!! haha. VATOS LOCOSSSS 4 ever!!!!!!!!! too funny
  • Daniel from Baunach, GermanyMandy from Smalltown, NY. I think that you mis-interpeted this Video.It's not about a bunch of people pissed off due to a Traffic jam.It's more to due with people having time on their hands due to the Traffic jam and thinking about troubles in their lives.
  • Scott from Boston, MaThis is one of my favorite songs and I loved the version with the 9/11 snippets mixed in, but I can't seem to find that version anywhere. Does anyone know where I can buy or download that?
  • Max from Laconia, NhMichael Stipe has such a cool voice. Especially in this song.
  • Hayley from Sydney, AustraliaThis has to be one of the best it real expresses the artists feelings u can tell when u here it that the artist believes in the subject! This song holds alot of meaning for me, i here it and it makes me feel as if everything will be okay, not to give up. It was played at my cousins funaral who actually commited suicide so i really really get what the band was trying to put out!!! This Song Is Legendary.
  • Ryan from Los Angeles, CaOne must hold on. Believe the very best. We are never alone. We are all interconnected, someone
    feels the same degree of pain you are in many parts of the world at the same synchronistic time.
  • Ashleah from Red Deer, CanadaThis song was played at my friend Matt's funeral. I remember hearing it while they played a slideshow of pictures of Matt and his family and friends during the buffet. I cry everytime I hear Everybody Hurts. Matt's death was a suicide, which makes this song appropriate for his funeral. Matt died on the 7th of June in 2005, and every time I randomly hear this song, it's on the seventh of any given month. It's kind of freaky, actually.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesI don't really like this song even though I am quite a big fan of REM. There's sad, there's emotive, and then there's just downright depressing, and this song falls into the third category. I cannot imagine why so many people like this song and proclaim it as one of the best ever written, because despite being a song - allegedly - about disuading people from suicide and offering thenm hope, all it does for me is make me feel even more down at heel. Different strokes for different folks as they say, I guess...
  • Matt from Cedar Hill, TxWhen asked who the most influential band was, Kurt Cobain replied R.E.M. It has also been proven that he listened to this song continuously before his death in 1994.
  • Cara from PerthIn You're The Reason I'm Leaving by Franz Ferdinand, there is the lyrics; "And as we ride along, under an optimistic sun, the radio sings that everybody song by rem" I was wondering if that was in reference to this song. Could someone help me out? Thanks!
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumI love this song and the lyrics are beautiful; when I'm feeling down I think about this song and maybe it can help me feeling better. It's really very top.
  • Ian from Melbourne, AustraliaThis song was definetly not written about Cobains suicide as it was written three years before his death. The song stipe wrote about cobain was off the following "Monster" album its called let me in .I think everybody hurts is the greatest ballad of the modern era .Its parent album"automatic for the people" in my opinion is the greatest album of all tim by the greatest band of all time.
  • Matthew from East Brunswick, NjAbsolutely terrific job done by these guys. It sends such a clear message, and really have the power to change you. What people don't realize sometimes is that music can change you, but its what you say that can move you.
  • Dawson from Draper, UtMy bad Brian. You're right.
  • Dawson from Draper, UtYes, Brian, you're right, but he still could listen to the song after the album was released.
  • Rick from Humboldt, Iait was on the b witched movie
  • Bernard from Caracas, South AmericaI used to watch the videoclip on MTV when I was working as a translator, sometime in 1994, very deep lyrics....
  • Craig from Madison, WiI like the un-Stipelike enunciation in this song and the swooning style that Stipe uses. It's kind of funny, like he's trying to do an impersonation of some crooning 50's teen idol.
  • Craig from Madison, WiGreat video except for the little coda at the end with the newscaster reporting on the abandonment of the cars. After a great concept and a powerful resolution, even the slowest viewer doesn't have to be told by some fake reporter that something out of the ordinary had happened. It's not like REM to condescend to their audience, and the fact that it happened cheapens the video and by extension (for this is the way of the video-world) the song is cheapened as well.
  • Robert from Puyallup, WaI disagree with Mandy; the video starts out being about people who are frustrated over a traffic jam, but the subtitles tell us what's really bothering them: An old man grieves for his dead wife; a truck driver tries to figure out how to put the moves on the attractive hitchhiker he has picked up; a son mentally begs his father to stop singing, a seething driver thinks "If I had a gun...." and could be thinking of something else that's troubling him.
    And above all this (literally and figuratively) a young missionary writes quotes from what I believe is Psalm 63 ("Lead me to the rock that is higher than I...) and drops them from the overpass onto the cars of the commuters below. It's a beautiful video. At the end, when they all get out and walk together off camera, it just takes my breath away. I've always considered this song the "Bridge Over Troubled Water" of the 1990's.
  • Mandy from Smalltown, NyNow, it is common opinion that the video to this song is amazing. I agree, to a limit. I think that the idea for this video was great, but it doesn't fit well with the message behind this song. People getting pissed off because of traffic backups is not what the song was written to expose. If traffic backups are your biggest problem, I envy you.
  • Roger from Los Angeles, CaThis is the type of song where if you are happy and hear it, then you will feel sad and if you are sad and hear it, then you may feel that you have some hope. If I am in a good mood, I certainly don't want to listen to this stuff.
  • Matt from Millbrae, CaAutomatic For the People was the album in Kurt's stereo when they found him dead. Whether he was listening to this song or not we will most likely never know. Kurt loved R.E.M. and was even thyinking of doing a record with them.
  • Chris from London, Englandthis song is one of the best ever written, thanks REM!
  • Rob from Santa Monica, CaI'm a huge REM fan, but this song struck me as overly maudlin from the start. It bores me on the record, although played live, Michael always sings his heart out on this one and takes it to a different level.
  • Josh from Pontypridd, Walesi dont like this much. i like sad songs, but this is a bit heavy handed for my taste. it tends to make me feel glum, rather that the intended glimmer of hope.
  • Ginette from Richmond Hill, CanadaIt's rumored that this is the song Kurt was listening to before he was killed. The cd was foung in his stereo.
  • Brian from Gregory, MiThis song had nothing to do with Kurt Cobain's death. Kurt was still alive in 1992. He died in April 94.
  • Bob from Apple Valley, MnAs the main message says, the video was filmed in San Antonio, not in Dallas/Fort Worth as stated in the comments
  • Wim from Melle, Belgiumno Kurt Cobain did not co-write everybody hurts. and this song was not written as a response to his suicide cause it was written before Kurt commited suicide. R.E.M. did write Let me in as a response to Kurts death.

    Berry wanted to reach out to people who felt they had no hope. Berry did write the music but Michael Stipe wrote the lyrics.
  • Luke from Martin, TnA wonderful song. I can say little else.
  • Mariah from Fort Worth, TxI heard that the song was written in response to Kurt Cobain's suicide, although I don't have any fact to back that up.
  • Epp from Pittsburgh, PaThis song is anti-suicide and says that there is so much to live for and that everbody feels horrible at once point or another but that doesnt give someone the right to take there on life. A touching song, it really is helpful when u have a problem and go "why is this happening to me"
  • Andi from I Don't Like It Here, TxThe video to this song was filmed in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and all those people were really stuck. I'm sure that they had actors though.
  • Rian from London, United StatesI love the video to this song!! When i broke up with my boyfriend and i was really unhappy, i put this song on repeat and layed on the floor listening to it
  • Meg from Worcester, MaVery good song. Yes, it has a kind of pop feel to it...but R.E.M. knew it as they were writing it. They wanted it out in the public. It has a wholesome message, that they wanted people to be able to relate to.
  • Raja from Austin, TxI hate this song with a passion. It is so commercial and whiney.
  • Kev from Glasgow, United Statesit is one of the most beautiful and musically masterful pieces of music ever to be written. there are so many sutle, yet vital touches of pure musicality which, although often go unnoticed, make this song one of the best pieces of music ever.
  • Kurt from Downers Grove, IlNo, it definitely was not co-written by Kurt Cobain, I have the album and music book, and he is not credited as a writer. I'm glad to put that myth to rest, Cobain could never write a song like this.
  • Anonymousnow people, i may be very wrong, but i heard that this song was writtien/co written by kurt cobain. could someone please tell me if this is or isn't true. thanks!
    mel xx
  • Patrick from Conyers, GaVery moving song with an equally moving video to match.
  • Adeeb from Dhaka, OtherThis song has, and this sounds absolutely pathetic, helped me a lot. Not because I'm suicidal, I'm most definitely not, but it's a beautiful song, it helps you through the blackest of moods and times.

    The funeral idea is cool though.
  • Chris from Hamilton, New Zealandthis has to go down as one of the greatest songs ever written. hard to pick from this and CAT STEVENS FATHER AND SON. the message is lound and clear. It may seem ironic to other people but it is the song i want for my funeral when they put me in the ground. As a message to those i will leave behind.
  • Shoshana from Toronto, CanadaThis song was featured on the MTV cartoon series "Mission Hill"!
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