Perhaps R.E.M’s most popular and successful song, “Everybody Hurts” has become a modern rock classic, and it’s easy to see why. The song is built around a slow, chiming guitar figure – it’s simple, direct and very moving. Musically, the song is rather unconventional, especially in the bridge section, yet the melody is logical and almost hymnal in it’s rise and fall. What makes the song outstanding, however, is Michael Stipe’s vocal and lyric. Unusually for Stipe, the song’s sentiment is not hidden behind pseudo-poetic ramblings, instead he sings “When you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on/Don’t let yourself go, everybody cries, everybody hurts sometimes” with delicacy and tenderness. The lyric may be the finest of Stipe’s career, it’s certainly the most beautiful. A hugely popular song, “Everybody Hurts” succeeds in being heart-warming and ethereal, and without question one of R.E.M’s greatest moments.