Just when you thought it was over, yep, another Michael Jackson post, but it’s his birthday…I know, but look how nice he’s being to that baby tiger. Awww.
Happy Birthday Michael Jackson.
One of the things I have learned about mourning in my own life is that sometimes it’s necessary to mourn someone on different levels. We all have different sides to our selves and different passions. In the media onslaught in the wake of Michael Jackson’s death he was mourned as a musical genius, an alleged pedophile, an icon. But Michael Jackson didn’t get mourned enough in my opinion as a person who cared about people and the environment.
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee drafted a resolution that listed his accomplishments and asked that he be recognized as a “humanitarian” and a “contributor” to “scientific advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and “global food security.” The outlines stories we took for granted over the years like “April 14, 1984, Michael Jackson was single handedly responsible for equipping a 19-bed-unit at Mount Sinai New York Medical Center. This center is now a critical part of the T.J. Martell Foundation for leukemia and cancer research.”
For this post I wanted to play Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” for reasons I’ve explained below. This version is acapella. You can hear Michael take breaths before he sings a line which makes this sprawling epic song oddly intimate. You can hear the sounds of animals that seemed to have gotten buried in the album version. You can hear him so closely that you can get a sense of the thing about Michael Jackson that was the key to him and his music connecting with people. It’s also the thing that got lost in the rumors and media circus. His Humanity.
“On February 1, 1988 The Song “Man In the Mirror” entered the charts. The proceeds from the sales of this record went directly and exclusively to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a camp for children who suffer from Cancer.”
And on and on not to mention the hundreds of million of dollars donated to various charities and causes including The United Negro College Fund.
As an artist he made these statements through his music as well, which is not a given. Michael Jackson could have done just fine in his career cranking out love songs but instead included humanitarian, philanthropic, environmental and even religious subject matter in his music. With the scope of his music’s subject matter opened so widely more universal themes could be addressed so more hearts, souls and minds could be touched.
“We Are the World’, “Heal the World”, “Man in the Mirror” and “We are the World” are a few examples of this artists desire to touch the world as opposed to songs about romantic relationships and romantic love. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but Love has a higher calling that can go beyond you and your boo. Love can effect change and as Cornell West said ultimately Love is related to Justice.
“Earth Song” by Michael Jackson is important to me me because it addresses outright environmental concerns with real passion. As a Black person who cares about he environment this song is special to me because it came from another Black person who cared about the environment even though it seems people think we don’t exist. “Earth Song” also features the Michael Jackson that cares about people because people and animals are not separate. So often I think Black people are turned off by “environmentalism” as it has been sold to us because we are very concerned about ourselves as a people and place our survival at the top of our collective list of priorities. And understandably so, if you’re not alive and well you can’t settle your other concerns. But these other issues are of vital importance and as Van Jones and Green For All have shown us you can kill more than one bird with one stone- not that I advocate killing birds.
For “Earth Song” alone Michael Jackson will always have a special place in my heart.
Special thanks to Jimmy Sky for the audio!