If the name Baz Luhrmann sounds familiar and you're not a film buff, it's probably because he released "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)," a late-'90s song that's almost universally referred to as "The Sunscreen Song."
Luhrmann has, of course, quite a storied career in film. In addition to directing "Moulin Rouge" and "Romeo+Juliet," he's also the man responsible for the new adaptation of "The Great Gatsby," which lands in theaters (in 3-D) on May 10.
It's the story of the "Sunscreen Song," however, that's most curious. At the time, the speech that became the basis for the track was attributed to Kurt Vonnegut. Luhrmann's team found out that it was actually written by a journalist, Mary Schmich. Schmich was a fan of Luhrrman's movies, clearing the way for him to have a Sydney-based actor record the speech. "What I think is extraordinary, apart from the inherent values in the ideas, is that we were experiencing ourselves a historical moment in the life of the internet," Luhrmann wrote at the time. "An example of how massive publishing power is in the hands of anyone with access to a PC."
The backing track for Luhrmann's version of the speech is "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)," by Zambian musician Rozalla. Quindon Tarver, who covered Prince's "When Doves Cry" for "Romeo+Juliet," sings the chorus on the song.
There are a number of other versions of the essay, but Luhrmann's is by far the most popular. It was also followed by another mega-popular commencement-themed song, Vitamin C's "Graduation (Friends Forever)." For those old enough to have heard the songs when they first became popular, both tracks have endured as lightning rods of nostalgia. Watch the video for "Everbody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" above and go ahead, tell us you already knew all this in the comments.
The connection has inspired at least these three funny tweets: