Today’s song is ‘Everybody Hurts’. This song is by American rock band R.E.M. and was originally released on the band's 1992 album ‘Automatic for the People’ and was also released as a single in 1993. It peaked at Number 29 on the US ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart and reached the top ten on the charts in Australia, Canada, France, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Much of the song was written by drummer Bill Berry, although as R.E.M. share song-writing credits among its members, it is unknown how much he actually wrote. Commenting on the making of the track, guitarist, Peter Buck said, "’Everybody Hurts’ is similar to ‘Man on the Moo’. Bill brought it in, and it was a one-minute long country-and-western song. It didn't have a chorus or a bridge. It had the verse... it kind of went around and around, and he was strumming it. We went through about four different ideas and how to approach it and eventually came to that Stax, Otis Redding, ‘Pain in My Heart’ kind of vibe. I'm not sure if Michael would have copped that reference, but to a lot of our fans, it was a Staxxy-type thing. It took us forever to figure out the arrangement and who was going to play what, and then Bill ended up not playing on the original track. It was me and Mike and a drum machine. And then we all overdubbed.”
In 1995, British emotional support listening service ‘The Samaritans’, in response to the high suicide rate but low-crisis-service take-up amongst young men, launched a UK press advertising campaign consisting solely of the lyrics to ‘Everybody Hurts’ and the charity's hotline number. Warner Bros. placed the song on R.E.M. ‘In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003’ in 2003’.
Never was there a saying so true as ‘Everybody hurts, sometime’. There are many ways a person can be hurt, whether physically, mentally, psychologically or emotionally. Just as everyone pains differently, so it is where ‘hurt’ is concerned also. Whether one is hurt by the actions of another person deliberately or by accidental means or by unusual and unexpected events and circumstance, there is no time span that a person’s hurt may remain with them.
As a Probation Officer for 26 years in West Yorkshire, I have worked with and have seen first-hand, the hurt that is felt by an individual whose person has been deeply wounded. I have worked with people who have both committed or had committed to them the most horrendous of deadly assaults or who have experienced the most unspeakable abuse imaginable. I have worked with individuals who witnessed terrible events or have attempted suicide on many occasions. I have seen people attend the hospital bedside of a relative who was dying with cancer or who has had to bury a child or grandchild of theirs or view the corpse of a family member in a cold mortuary. I have worked with men and women who hurt with the pain of a broken heart at the ending of a relationship when the other person has betrayed, deserted, divorced or dumped them. I have also worked and known of many elderly people who live on their own, and who rarely step outside their front door or have a visitor step inside their house. I have known family members refuse to speak to one another for years and years; indeed, for so long that neither party can remember precisely what caused the initial rift and why they fell out!
Then, there is all the unnecessary hurt experienced by millions of people across the globe that is daily visible when we turn on the television. There is all the hurt that is caused by internal strife in war-torn countries, civil unrest, world food shortages and famine caused by failed crops, mass migration of individuals and families crossing dangerous waters in unsafe crafts in search of a better life or dangerously stowed by traffickers in the fridges of continental lorries. Add to all this suffering, the daily struggles of individuals sleeping rough in the doorways and on the streets of England, families who are dependent on food banks and sub-standard, cramped accommodation to live in and persons of ill-health who cannot get the medical treatment they require to be pain free: add all this hurt throughout the world and feel the destructive forces of human desperation in its wake.
There is so much ‘hurt’ all around us that I would have to conclude that ‘hurt’ is a natural part of life, however unwelcome it may be and in whatever form we might experience it. If the experience is used in its most positive way instead of focusing solely on its destructive elements, it can strengthen us instead of weakening us, and make us more able to withstand and endure future ‘hurt’ we might experience.
As a person who has had to cope with physical pain since the age of 11 years, after a wagon run over me down and left me with multiple life-threatening injuries, I know that pain can represent both a good thing as well as a bad thing in one’s life. My injuries included a damaged spine that led the doctors to tell me and my parents that I’d never walk again as I had no feeling beneath the waist. I didn’t walk again for three years after my accident, but for those three years, I did engage in a number of meditational activities, along with visual imagination exercises. I knew that my damaged spine had left me without any movement or feeling beneath my waistline. I knew that my legs wouldn’t enable me to walk again until I could feel pain in them again. For me, ‘feeling pain in my legs again was feeling life in my legs again’. When eventually I started to feel the pain return to my legs, I knew that I would walk again. For whatever reason, my nerve passage from brain through to the spine and to legs had reconnected.
Over the immediate years following my accident as a young boy, my legs were broken and reset over fifty times. All my life I experienced pain in my legs and had to retire at the age of 53 years on the grounds of immobility. All my leg breaks and operations left me with severe osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis which had gradually worsened over the past twenty-four years since my early 50s. My legs have always given me pain that increases in intensity year-upon-year. I know that it is the constant presence of pain in my legs since my childhood which has given me a high pain threshold level. The pain in my legs also act as accurately as any barometer and my legs tell me in advance to the television weather forecasts, when the weather is changing and will be damper and colder.
Of all the different ways that pain hurts, I can tell you that a broken arm or leg hurts infinitely less than a broken heart and heals much faster. I can tell you that pain created in the mind is just as physically painful as pain produced by breakage of bones or infection of the body. I can tell you that the loss of a loved one through death, divorce or desertion can hurt every bit as much as the loss of a limb. I can tell you, that not being told as a child by one’s parent that you are loved creates a hurt that never heals.
Of all the hurts one can ever experience, the greatest hurt of all is ‘to feel unloved’. Look to your nearest and dearest at the earliest opportunity and tell them, ‘I love you’. Do not let your children go to bed tonight (whatever their ages are) without telling them that you love them. Do this one thing and you will deny them of the greatest hurt they could ever feel.
I dedicate my song today to Nick Kirkby of Lafayette in Tennesee, America, for whom Halloween is certainly no treat. If you look at the ‘Introduction Section’ of Nick’s Facebook page, the very first words one reads are, “I don't do Halloween anymore. My Dad died on Oct 31 and my Mom died on Oct 30. It just depresses me.”
I hope that you can get through this Halloween period, Nick, in the knowledge that there are many people who are spread near and far, all over the world who love you. ‘Everybody hurts sometime’ as the song says. Please know that the hurt you feel at this time of the year is borne from the love you felt for your parents when they lived and will be shared alongside you today by many people from your Facebook Family whom you may not know or ever meet. Bill x
Love and peace Bill xxx