“Did you ever stop to notice
This crying Earth, these weeping shores?”
He not only captured the world with his eye-catching dance moves but also such lyrics that spoke out on behalf of the world; its social and environmental issues. Likewise, “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson was deemed as “one of the most powerful anthems of the past century”. For me, this song evokes all kinds of emotions, starting from its comforting melody to the deep meaning of its lyrics. Truth be told, every time I listen to it, I get goosebumps; my heart blends with everything about the song. I’m certain that you all must feel the same because this song is truly a masterpiece.
“Earth Song” is an illustration of what the world is turning into, how all the forests and what belongs to nature are being destroyed by the very hands of humans. Moving on, he also vocalizes the impact of war, how blood is shed without mercy. Jackson sends a waking call to all the humans on earth, how all these terrible conditions result in the devastation of the earth itself.
Michael released a range of socially conscious songs, starting from his childhood song “In our small way” which was from his first album “Got to be there” back in 1971. Then there are the two songs that most are aware of: “Heal the World” and “We are the World”, followed by “Man in the Mirror”. He contributed to promote various issues pertaining to contemporary society and this song came to life owing to that. He made good use of his money and fame for all of that. So in 1985, he co-wrote “We Are the World”, a charity single, with Lionel Richie. As a result, the song raised funds for the poor in Africa and USA. His list of good causes didn’t stop there. All of the profits from “Man in the Mirror” was used for charity, and then he founded the “Heal the World Foundation” in 1992, alongside his song of the same name.
Digging into the particular song that is in the spotlight in this article, “Earth Song” was the third single from Michael’s album “HIStory” which was released in 1995. Later when he talked about the song, he said:
“I remember writing ‘Earth Song’ when I was in Austria, in a hotel. And I was feeling so much pain and so much suffering of the plight of the planet Earth. And for me, this is Earth’s Song, because I think nature is trying so hard to compensate for man’s mismanagement of the Earth. And with the ecological unbalance going on, and a lot of the problems in the environment, I think earth feels the pain, and she has wounds, and it’s about some of the joys of the planet as well. But this is my chance to pretty much let people hear the voice of the planet. And this is ‘Earth Song.”
I think that the above saying by Michael Jackson himself pretty much throws light upon what the song is about, the intention behind it, and what the singer expects from the listeners of it.
The music video for “Earth Song” was directed by Nick Brandt, a photographer. The video won the Doris Day Music Award at the Genesis Awards in 1995 and a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video, Short Form in 1997. It visually demonstrated what the lyrics try to put forth by including visuals of animal cruelty, deforestation, pollution, poaching, war and poverty. This music video is the perfect example of how the lyrics of a song can be effectively portrayed by its music video. The music video was filmed in four regions, rather different from each other. The first location was the Amazon Rainforest in which the natives of the area appeared in the video. Then they had used a war zone in Karlovac, Croatia as the second location where a famous Siberian actor called “Slobodan Dimitrijevic” was featured along with the residents of the town itself. Tanzania was the third location with scenes of illegal poaching and hunting. Finally, they had used Warwick, New York where a scenario unfolds as a safe forest fire being simulated in a cornfield.
It is safe to say that the song performed really great on the charts. In the United Kingdom, “Earth Song” is Michael Jackson’s best-selling single and topped the chart for six weeks. The song sold over 1.2 million copies in the United Kingdom alone. The countries where it topped the charts are Iceland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany.
“Earth Song’ consists of rhetorical questions that should really be answered by us humans, in my opinion; “What about children dying?”, “Where did we go wrong?”, “What about nature’s worth?”, “What about animals?”. These are only some of the many questions that he’s trying to answer through his song.
Another indispensable fact about this song is that it was Michael Jackson’s final song. It was planned for his “This is It” concert in 2009. And “Earth Song” was the last song he performed. It was said that he rehearsed it on June 24, 2009, while preparing for the concert “This is It”, just hours before his departure from the world. Thus, we could say that it adds more value to the song.
It is really praiseworthy that he chose to speak out in regards to nature’s worth in his songs. Some even claim that “Earth Song” is Michael Jackson’s magnum opus. I couldn’t agree more with that. “Earth Song” along with “Heal the World” and “We Are the World” are my personal favourites. And nothing could ever surpass its deep lyrics and the overall emotions brought out.
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