Throwback Friday: Baz Luhrmann's Graduation Advice + Lyrics

Throwback Friday: Baz Luhrmann's Advice

Ahhh...1998. I was 17, our very own Pat was in his late 40's, and Baz Luhrmann put out a song that I liked because of the beat. And every year that I get older, it makes more sense.

The Background

The song came from an article called "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" written by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997. She described the article as a commencement speech she would give if she were asked to give one.

How It Became A Sensation

Australian film director Baz Luhrmann used the lyrics on an album of his in 1998. Baz has directed Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby among others. The speech was narrated by an Australian voice actor named Lee Perry, and the backing music is from a song used in the movie William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet which Luhrmann also directed.

Why You Should Check It Out

Whether you graduated in 1999 or you're graduating in 2019, there's some great advice in it. Check out the video, and enjoy the beat. It's pretty catchy.

Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen): Circa 1998


Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '99 Wear sunscreen

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable Than my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth Until they've faded but trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back At photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now How much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked You are not as fat as you imagine

Don't worry about the future or worry that know that worrying Is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation By chewing bubble gum The real troubles in your life are apt to be things That never crossed your worried mind The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday Do one thing every day that scares you


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours


Don't waste your time on jealousy Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind The race is long and in the end, it's only with yourself Remember compliments you receive Forget the insults, if you succeed in doing this, tell me how Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements


The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't Get plenty of calcium, be kind to your knees You'll miss them when they're gone

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the 'Funky Chicken' On your 75th wedding anniversary Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much Or berate yourself either Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can Don't be afraid of it or what other people think of it It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own, dance Even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room Read the directions even if you don't follow them Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly

Get to know your parents, you never know when they'll be gone for good Be nice to your siblings, they're your best link to your past And the people most likely to stick with you in the future

Understand that friends come and go But a precious few, who should hold on

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle For as the older you get, the more you need the people You knew when you were young Live in New York City once but leave before it makes you hard Live in northern California once but leave before it makes you soft


Accept certain inalienable truths Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you, too, will get old And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble And children respected their elders

Respect your elders

Don't expect anyone else to support you Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse But you never know when either one might run out

Don't mess too much with your hair Or by the time you're 40 it will look 85

Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past From the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts And recycling it for more than it's worth

But trust me on the sunscreen

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Ray is the founder of Stray Monkey, and as a shameless plug he wants to remind you to check out the Research the News podcast.