Song Review: R.E.M. – “Everybody Hurts”

“Everybody Hurts” was a single from R.E.M.’s 1992 album, Automatic for the People. The single was released in 1993. The single peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Everybody Hurts” is a very powerful song, with a message about trying to hold on in your life, even if the pain and obstacles seem to be too much, as well as turning to friends if you need help.

The music video shows the members of R.E.M. in a car, stuck in a traffic jam. There are subtitles that are shown on the screen as the camera shows various vignettes going on in the various cars stuck in the traffic jam. Some of the subtitles are humorous, while others are very serious. There’s even a guy on an overpass quoting scripture as he rips pages out of a book and throws them down. At the end of the video, the people in the cars suddenly get out of their cars and start to walk off.

Call me slow, but the symbolism of the video finally clicked in when I watched it on YouTube before writing this up. The traffic jam symbolizes how people can feel stuck and trapped in life, and the people getting out of the cars and walking symbolizes that they are no longer allowing themselves to be victimized by their circumstances and are taking action in order to overcome their situation.


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