Writer(s): Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe (see lyrics here)
Released: April 15, 1993
First Charted: April 17, 1993
Peak: 29 US, 18 CB, 9 RR, 21 AR, 7 UK, 8 CN, 6 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK, 0.75 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 160.13 video, -- streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Everybody Hurts” was R.E.M.’s third top-40 hit from their eighth album, Automatic for the People. In the UK, it was even more successful. Its #7 peak made it the most successful song of the album’s four top-20 hits there. It was also a top-10 hit in Australia, Canada, France, Iceland, and the Netherlands.
While the song is credited to all four members of the band, drummer Bill Berry wrote much of it. He “wanted to reach out to people who felt they had no hope.” SF Singer Michael Stipe “purposely sings indecipherably” on many R.E.M. songs, but “sang very clearly on this one…because he didn’t want his message getting lost.” SF Guitarist Peter Buck noted that the lyrics – which Entertainment Weekly’s Greg Sandow called an “almost unbearable passionate argument against suicide” – are more direct than typical R.E.M. songs because it was aimed at teenagers. WK
Despite his lyrical contribution, Berry didn’t actually play on “Everybody Hurts.” Instead the task was covered by a Univox drum machine. Bassist Mike Mills says they “wanted to get this flow around…human and non-human at the same time.” SF The song is also notable for the string arrangement written by bassist John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin.
Sandow also said the song “surely will be played on radio for generations to come, right next to unforgettable anthems like ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’” WK Critic Troy J. Augusto said the “silky vocals and the song’s lush string section provide this track’s main appeal.” WK Billboard’s Larry Flick called the song a “spare, honest, and emotional track.” WK Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot said it was “a ballad that would border on the maudlin if Stipe didn’t sing with such conviction.” WK A poll by PRS for Music in the UK rated this the song “most likely to make a grown man cry.” SF
First posted 2/10/2021; last updated 10/15/2021.