In 1999, Baz Luhrmann, the much-acclaimed director of such blockbuster films as Romeo + Juliet (1996), Moulin Rouge! (2001), and The Great Gatsby (2013), released a spoken-word song entitled “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)“, the lyrics of which were sourced verbatim from Mary Schmich’s powerful, motivational column “Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted On The Young”. Schmich’s essay, which she wrote in the Chicago Tribune in June 1997, is presented as the commencement speech she would deliver if ever asked.
Narrated by Australian voice actor Lee Perry in Luhrmann’s number-one hit, the essay dispenses with real-life advice and warnings which are intended to aid people in living a happier, more fulfilling life, whereby circumventing the hardships and frustrations experienced on a daily basis. Schmich’s words are as hard-hitting, evocative, and pertinent to today’s society as upon first release.