Sunscreen and Success: How Mary Schmich’s words can change your life

If you’ve heard our latest playlist in class, you will have noticed that we take our final stretches to ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’.

Not only is it great at putting life into perspective in a fun way, it has an interesting story about how it came to being.

It all began when Mary Schmich, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, penned a heartfelt essay filled with advice for graduates. 

She wrote it in a light hearted tone, offering pearls of wisdom on life’s journey, all centred around the simple act of wearing sunscreen. 

Despite never actually delivering the speech herself, her words struck a chord with readers when it was published in 1997.

Over time, the essay took on a life of its own, circulating widely on the internet. People couldn’t get enough of its timeless advice and witty insights. 

Many mistakenly attributed it to others, such as Kurt Vonnegut, an American writer or even claimed it was an MIT commencement speech!

In 1999, Australian film director Baz Luhrmann adapted the essay into a spoken-word song titled ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).’ 

The song was released as a single and became an instant hit, spreading its message of self-care and life lessons to even more people around the world.

It featured a voice over by Australian actor Lee Perry, who recited Schmich’s essay over a musical background.

So, while Mary Schmich’s words started it all, it was Baz Luhrmann’s musical adaptation that really made ‘Wear Sunscreen’ a cultural phenomenon. 

To find out how it came to being on our playlist and a little more chat about life, tune into my ”Just a Thought” Podcast

Listen via my website, Spotify or your WhatsApp group.

Sam ‘looking for some sunscreen’ Hobbs