A Professor's Diatribe ... Set To Music
GUY RAZ, host:
You know those annoying, forwarded emails you get from your mom or a slightly unhinged relative, the ones with the stupid jokes or conspiracy theories? Well, most of them probably end up in your trash bin, but every once in a while, something comes through that's practically gold, and one of those golden moments came in the late 1990s.
It was from an essay in the Chicago Tribune, an imagined commencement address to graduating seniors that was mistakenly attributed to writer Kurt Vonnegut. That essay was so powerful it was emailed around the globe, and when Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann read it, he decided to set it to music. He called the song "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)."
Mr. BAZ LUHRMANN (Filmmaker): (Singing) 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. Travel. 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.
RAZ: Another kind of essay in that genre has been making the email rounds lately. This one, though, is substantially less gentle.
It all started when a student at NYU's business school walked into the class of Professor Scott Galloway a full hour after the lecture had started.
Galloway stopped the lecture, and he asked the student to leave. The next day, the professor received an email. The student wanted to offer a little feedback about how the professor could improve his demeanor.
So Professor Galloway wrote back, and the letter went viral online. So we asked our own Baz Luhrmann, producer Phil Harrell, to set Galloway's letter to music.
JIM HOWARD(ph): Thanks for the feedback. I, too, would like to offer some feedback: Get your (BEEP) together.
(Soundbite of music)
HOWARD: There is a baseline level of decorum that we expect of tomorrow's business leaders: getting a good job, working long hours, keeping your skills relevant, navigating the politics of an organization, finding a life-work balance. These are all really hard.
In contrast, respecting institutions, having manners, demonstrating a level of humility, these are all relatively easy. Get the easy stuff right.
HELENA JOHNSON-McNEELY: (Singing) Get your (BEEP) together. Get the easy stuff right. Get your (BEEP) together. Get the easy stuff right.
HOWARD: In and of themselves, they will not make you successful. However, not possessing them will hold you back, and you will not achieve your potential, which you must have in spades. It's not too late.
Again, thanks for the feedback.
RAZ: The words of NYU professor Scott Galloway in a letter to an unnamed student. It was read by our own Jim Howard with vocals by Helena Johnson-McNeely. The music, by The Golden Palominos.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.