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Wear Sunscreen

"Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)"
Single by Baz Luhrmann
from the album Something for Everybody
B-side "Love Is in the Air"
Released 1997
Format CD
Genre Spoken word, Downtempo
Length 7:10 (album)
5:05 (radio)
Label EMI
Writer(s) Mary Schmich, Nigel Swanston, Tim Cox
Producer(s) Baz Luhrmann, Josh Abrahams, Nellee Hooper
Baz Luhrmann singles chronology
- "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)"
"Baz Luhrmann - Wear Sunscreen (Mau Kilauea's Tropical Remix)"
Single by Mau Kilauea
Released December 13, 2014
Format Digital
Genre Spoken Word / Minimal House
Length 6:48
Label Spinnin' Records
Writer(s) Mary Schmich, Nigel Swanston, Tim Cox, Mau Kilauea
Producer(s) Baz Luhrmann, Josh Abrahams, Nellee Hooper

"Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young", commonly known by the title "Wear Sunscreen", is an essay written as a hypothetical commencement speech by columnist Mary Schmich, originally published in June 1997 in the Chicago Tribune. The essay, giving various pieces of advice on how to live a happier life and avoid common frustrations, spread massively via viral email, often erroneously described as a commencement speech given by author Kurt Vonnegut at MIT.

The essay became the basis for a successful spoken word song released in 1999 by Baz Luhrmann, "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", also known as "The Sunscreen Song". The song inspired numerous parodies.

Mary Schmich's column "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" was published in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997. In the column's introduction Schmich presents the essay as the commencement speech she would give if she were asked to give one.

In the speech she insistently recommends the wearing of sunscreen, and dispenses other advice and warnings which are intended to help people live a happier life and avoid common frustrations. She later explained that the initial inspiration for what advice to offer came from seeing a young woman sunbathing, and hoping that she was wearing sunscreen, unlike what she herself did at that age.

The essay soon became the subject of an urban legend which claimed it was an MIT commencement speech given by author Kurt Vonnegut. In reality, MIT's commencement speaker in 1997 was Kofi Annan and Vonnegut had never been a commencement speaker there. Despite a follow-up article by Schmich on August 3, 1997, the story became so widespread that Vonnegut's lawyer began receiving requests to reprint the speech. Vonnegut commented that he would have been proud had the words been his.

Chart (1998–99) Peak
Australia (ARIA) 65
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 31
Canada Adult Contemporary Tracks (RPM) 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 11
Germany (Official German Charts) 44
Ireland (IRMA) 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 29
Norway (VG-lista) 8
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) 15
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 36
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 1
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard) 10
US Billboard Hot 100 45
US (Billboard Hot 100 Airplay) 24
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard) 17
Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI) Gold 400,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Preceded by
"Candle for Kosovo" by Rain / Various Artists
Irish Singles Chart
number one single

June 5, 1999 - June 12, 1999
Succeeded by
"That Don't Impress Me Much" by Shania Twain
Preceded by
"Sweet like Chocolate" by Shanks & Bigfoot
UK Singles Chart number one single
June 6, 1999 - June 12, 1999
Succeeded by
"Bring It All Back" by S Club 7

  • Wear Sunscreen (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1998)


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