"Why Not Smile?" as written by and Michael Mills Peter Buck....
The concrete broke your fall
To hear you speak of it
I'd have done anything
I would do anything
I feel like a cartoon brick wall
To hear you speak of it
You've been so sad
It makes me worry
Why not smile?
You've been sad for a while.
Why not smile?
I would do anything
To hear you speak of it.
Why not smile?
You've been sad for a while.
You've been sad for a while.


Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst

"Why Not Smile" as written by Michael Mills Peter Buck

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Why Not Smile? song meanings
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  • 0
    General Commentthis song gives me shivers everytime i hear it. i wish so much that someone (and i have someone very specific in mind here) knew enough to say any of these things to me at the time when i most needed to hear them said.
    faded24on June 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful song.
    nikitarioon September 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is a great little song, and pretty straightforward in its message for R.E.M. I love it, it's gorgeous
    oldshoeon April 10, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentabout seeing someone in a depression, hitting rock bottom (the concrete broke your fall)
    Tomeron January 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSomething which breaks your fall is somthing which makes it softer. If the thing which breaks your fall is concrete, imagine how much harder you fall would have been without it?

    Simply a genius lyric.
    solenton April 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFeels very much like a sequel to "Let Me In," Stipe's reflection in the wake of Kurt Cobain's death (and arguably the most brilliant song on "Monster").

    This month, we lost another very good person, David Foster Wallace, to suicide, and it truly sucks. I wish this song could have been there for him.
    raffishtenant2on September 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe concrete broke your fall


    such an amazing line oh my gosh,
    I just love how he sings this song. its just so beautiful and has so much meaning.
    By the way he sings it he just sounds so innocent and honest i just love it its one of my favouites by r.e.m

    x
    pheephoxon July 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo paraphrase Michael Stipe: The protagonist of this song is well-meaning but overly naive in their attitude towards a friend who's suffering from a serious issue such as mental illness/depression/drug addiction.

    The lyrics are like the equivalent of a person saying "turn that frown upside down" to somebody in the midst of a serious crisis and expecting such a trite platitude to "fix" the person's problem.

    The brilliance of this song is that the protagonist's (ultimately) empty message hides behind a sweet melody and a veneer of kindness and concern.
    Lantaon August 21, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about a friend's or relative or parent's suicide.

    "The concrete broke [his] fall".

    Mike did not cope with this person's depression: Mike "[had] done anything", "would do anything", actually "would have done anything" in order "to hear [him] speak a verse".

    He had been "sad for a while". So, Mike is inviting him to cheer up, to approach life another way. That's why he's saying "Why not smile?!" (instead of getting prey to depression and committing suicide, eventually).

    Great song. Yet so sad.
    javier7julyon March 06, 2014   Link

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