I first become aware of this 1988 song — and Leonard Cohen — in the 1990 Christian Slater vehicle, Pump Up the Volume. If you don’t mind your humor scatological and you don’t mind your truth-to-power messages a little obvious, then it’s a teen movie that’s held up better than most over nearly a quarter century. And no, I’m not remembering the movie so fondly only because of 20-year-old Samantha Mathis with her hair black, and getting totally and gratuitously topless at the 1:13:56 mark.
It’s impossible to convey my disappointment that long-ago summer when I picked up the soundtrack, only to find it featured an inferior Concrete Blonde cover of “Everybody Knows.” They even cut out the best, most bitter lines from this incredibly bitter song. The second half of the fifth verse is missing:
And everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows
Brutal stuff, and I don’t know why an alt-goth band like CB would leave that out.
So instead just sit back and enjoy Cohen’s original in all its dark and unedited glory.