Song of the Day #4,153: ‘Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands’ – Elliott Smith

This is the penultimate song on Elliott Smith’s great 1998 album, XO, and stylistically it’s a nice microcosm of the album.

XO was the album where Smith started broadening his musical palette from his lo-fi beginnings. Similarly, ‘Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands’ starts in a quiet, acoustic style before blowing up at its midpoint into a fully orchestrated coda.

This song was apparently written about an attempted intervention by Smith’s friends aimed at stopping his drug use. The final lines suggest it didn’t go over very well.

Everybody cares, everybody understands
Yes everybody cares about you
Yeah, and whether or not you want them to
It’s a chemical embrace that kicks you in the head
To a pure synthetic sympathy that infuriates you totally
And a quiet lie that makes you want to scream and shout

So here I lay dreaming, looking at the brilliant sun
Raining its guiding light upon everyone

For a moment’s rest you can lean against the banister
After running upstairs again and again
From wherever they came to fix you in, but
All this fair city’s finest follow right behind
You’ve got a pretty vision in your head
A pencil full of poison lead
And a sickened smile illegal in every town

So here I lay dreaming, looking at the brilliant sun
Raining its guiding light upon everyone
Here I lay dreaming, looking at the brilliant sun
Raining its guiding light upon everyone

You say you mean well, you don’t know what you mean
Fucking oughta stay the hell away from things you know nothing about

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,153: ‘Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands’ – Elliott Smith

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Wish he would have written an additional verse about how his friends’ were right and thank them for helping to get him clean.😔

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