At the risk of looking a dead gift horse in the mouth while simultaneously beating him, here is my eleventh hour review of the “Everybody Hurts” video.
I did not comment on the video when it was released. I watched it once with sound, once without sound, and then logged off my computer. Days later I returned to see many praising it, but not all. Among the dissenters was HG’s honest review and Silverfox’s on this site. I gathered from other comments that there was some controversy brewing over the matter but I didn’t go there. I make it a rule to stay away from drama that is not of my own making, for if I create it, I can hardly avoid it. For that reason, I try not to create it. But feigned indifference, my stance of choice on all but the most pressing issues, will not do. I don’t know why it won’t do but it just won’t. I don’t know why the video affected me so strongly but it did. Maybe by writing down my thoughts it will become clearer, at least to me.
I know they were pressed for time. I suspect David probably had very little to do with the making of the video other than laying down the vocals and allowing himself to be filmed doing so. He probably then left, trusting that others would do it justice and, with more important things on his mind, not much caring how it turned out. The music was the thing that mattered, a parting gift for his fans and he worked so hard and put so much love into it.
What does one video matter? It matters because to a fan of David, nothing will ever be good enough for him unless it reaches his level of excellence. In the song, “Everybody Hurts,” he descended emotionally far below anything portrayed on that video. Lyrically the song echoes the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Where in the video was this truth made plain by the lines, “when you feel like giving up…when you feel like letting go…don’t throw your hand!”? Not in a father giving his daughter away in marriage with much joy in store, or childhood friends parting but still keeping in touch by phone and text. And surely the mother in combat was not about to throw her hand or let go of life, so long as she could make it back to her child.
In an afterthought while writing this, I wondered how a video like MJ’s “Stranger in Moscow” would work with David’s cover of “Everybody Hurts.” It was edited hastily and in places is choppy. Since he was singing another song, I removed the frames containing Michael which necessitated some repetition of images and I added something of David. It is only meant to be a rough draft to illustrate the difference between sentimentality and seriously good work. Good enough even, for David.