Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" was originally released on "HIStory: Past, Present and Future: Book I" in 1995. "Earth Song" joins such anthems as "Man in the Mirror" and "We Are the World" in demonstrating Jackson's desire for individuals to look inwardly and make the world a better place. In this instance, "Earth Song" was a plea for ecological responsibility, calling attention to the welfare of the planet's environment and wildlife.
Jackson said the inspiration for "Earth Song" came to him while he was staying in a hotel in Austria and his heart became heavy with the plight of Mother Earth. It was Jackson's belief that the Earth could feel pain from her wounds, so he wanted to write a song coming from "the voice of the planet." His "Earth Song" became the rallying cry against "man's mismanagement of the Earth." The lyrics explored themes of deforestation, pollution and war, along with wildlife concerns such as over-fishing and elephant poaching.
"Earth Song" reflects Jackson's passion for the planet, and it is an urgent plea to look around at the world to see what can be done before it is too late. The lyrics begin reflective: "What about sunrise/What about rain/What about all the things/That you said we were to gain?" The lyrics grow more urgent with the rising crescendo of the song, where Jackson employs the call-and-response chant "What about us?" in between stronger lyrics that demand, "What about crying whales/We're ravaging the seas/What about forest trails/Burnt despite our pleas."
Though Jackson died in 2009, he left the world a powerful message of hope and change through "Earth Song." "That's why I write these kinds of songs. You know, to give some sense of awareness and awakening and hope to people. I love the planet." Jackson said. "The planet is sick. Like a fever. If we don't fix it now, it's at the point of no return. This is our last chance to fix this problem that we have. Or it's like a runaway train. And the time has come; this is it."
To underscore the song's themes, Jackson's original video for the song depicted powerful imagery of the consequences of global destruction. It was filmed in four different locations, including the Amazon Rainforest, Croatia, Tanzania and New York. MTV named the video as one of the 40 most expensive ever made, which raises the question if the video itself was an ironically carbon-heavy battle cry for global responsibility. For his final concert tour "This Is It," Jackson was to present a newer video to provide a visual in conjunction with the live performance. He died before the tour began, but this new video was presented during the 2010 Grammys (it was broadcast in 3-D for the television audience). The song was performed by superstars like Celine Dion, Usher, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson.
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