3   58
2   52
2   42
4   51
4   52
1   23
4   14
4   55
2   37
4   82

Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

I heard this song (if that’s what you can call Baz Luhrmann’s “Sunscreen“) on the radio as I was driving into work this morning and immediately thought – that’s something I want to listen to every single day. It wasn’t the fact that the music was good (actually, I really didn’t like the music at all!) but the lyrics and the meaning behind it immediately resonated with me.
As soon as Chris Evans announced that Sunscreen was by Baz Luhrmann, my attention was caught. I am so in love with several Baz Luhrmann films – Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge and possibly my favourite film (and book) ever (or at least at the moment – I’m still obsessed, I read it again #sorrynotsorry) The Great Gatsby. So surely I had to love a song by him too, right? When the music started, I was disappointed, especially when I realised it was a spoken song. But I thought I’d listen a bit more to the lyrics as I’m quite a campaigner on wearing sunscreen as I get older, plus this is an influential man giving us all some advice on it. The line:

“If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it”

Seemed so trivial but has so much importance put on it. The song circles back round to it again at the end too. Just like Baz Luhrmann films, it’s playful and trivial but has a depth and importance in the meaning beneath it.

Sunscreen Baz Luhrmann

So let’s have a look at the lyrics in a bit more detail before I talk a bit more about it (it’s long, but I definitely recommend reading it or listening to it here):

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2007, wear sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
Than my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind
You will never understand the power
And the beauty of your youth until they’ve faded
But trust me, in twenty years
You will look back at photos of yourself

And recall in a way you can’t grasp now
How much possibility lay before you
And how fabulous you really looked
You are not as fat as you imagine

Don’t worry about the future or worry that know that worrying
Is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation
By chewing bubble gum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things
That never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday

Do one thing every day that scares you, sing
Don’t be reckless with other peoples’ hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours, floss
Don’t waste your time on jealousy
Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself

Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements, stretch
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with your life

The most interesting people
I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t
Get plenty of calcium
Be kind to knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the “Funky Chicken”
On your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own, dance
Even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room
Read the directions even if you don’t follow them
Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly

Brother and sister together will make it through
Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there
I know you’ve been hurting, but I’ve been waiting to be there for you
And I’ll be there just helping you out, whenever I can

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings, they are your best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go
But a precious few, who should hold on

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as the older you get, the more you need the people
You knew when you were young
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard
Live in northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft

Travel, accept certain inalienable truths
Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old
And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young
Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble
And children respected their elders

Respect your elders, don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you’ll never know when either one will run out
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty
It will look eighty-five
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
Wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
Painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the sunscreen

As I was listening to each piece of advice that was given throughout the song, I sat up a bit taller and thought about what it meant, how each thing could make a difference if I tried harder on everything. (See why it’s one of those things I feel like I need to listen to everyday?). I was actually thinking about how I could do a twist on this and write my own “song” or maybe poem-style blog post with similar advice, but realised it’s all said here.

The “song” actually needs attributing back to its original source in my opinion though: Mary Schmich’s column in the Chicago Tribune as an imaginary graduation speech (“A Guide to Life for Graduates”) she thinks every adult should try. And that’s possibly why it resonates with me so much. I’ve talked about entering the real world as a young adult in the Millennial generation and like so many others, not really feeling grown up, feeling like we need some sort of a guide to life for navigating the world of finances like these sites, learning how to accept compliments, not only accepting but celebrating your own body using it to its best advantages (yoga is my thing right now that’s really helping me to understand how my body works better – more on this soon), appreciating your youth and respecting your elders, just generally figuring out life without a rule book.

I’ve started thinking back every so often now – for example, these lines are so relevant to what I wish I could tell myself as a teenager, and imagine in 20 years’ time I’ll look back on myself now and say! (And on that note, I also think this article should be compulsory reading for ALL young women.)

You are not as fat as you imagine.

Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

So basically, this song has given me some new life mantras. There are some that will help me let go of certain things, ones that I wouldn’t even have thought about previously but I’m starting to discover are important, and ones that don’t mean a huge amount to me yet but probably will do one day – that’s the beauty of it.

Do one thing each day that scares you

Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself

Your body is your greatest instrument

Respect your elders, don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you’ll never know when either one will run out

get to know your parents

Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old
And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young
Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble
And children respected their elders

And of course:

Trust me on the sunscreen.

4 Comments

  1. July 28, 2016 / 8:39 pm

    I almost live my life by this song! I pretty much have it memorised. There’s almost a line for every life situation. It has certainly helped me through some less-than-perfect situations and I try to share it with everyone I know 🙂

    • Sian Thomas
      Author
      July 29, 2016 / 8:55 am

      I can’t believe I’d never heard it before – apparently everyone else has! I’ve never been up to date on music though 😀 Definitely agree with that 🙂

  2. July 29, 2016 / 8:55 am

    It’s SO important to wear sun cream. I try to stay out of the sun as much as possible, but when I am in the sun I smother it on.

  3. July 29, 2016 / 12:48 pm

    Yeah wear sun cream or you will have a burnt lobster shoulder and will look like a wally…. like me. lol

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