MICHAEL SAID HE WANTED THE SONG TO ‘OPEN PEOPLE’S CONSCIOUSNESS’. HE DIDN’T WANT HIS AUDIENCES TO SIMPLY FEEL BAD; HE WANTED THEM TO ACT. AND THAT IS PRECISELY WHAT MANY HAVE DONE.
Joseph Vogel MAN IN THE MUSIC
I USED TO DREAM
I USED TO GLANCE BEYOND THE STARS
NOW I DON’T KNOW WHERE WE ARE
ALTHOUGH I KNOW WE’VE DRIFTED FAR.
“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Michael has the most beautiful sense of art. Stretching and changing the rules of Pop Music, he was an artist who could completely dissolve himself into a song and translate its emotions to masses of people who both heard and saw his artistry. Through pure feeling, the listener understands. I remember listening to EARTH SONG, long before studying it with Joseph Vogel’s profound work, EARTH SONG Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus, and realizing the nonverbal sounds came from Earth HERSELF. That revelation moved me so deeply, I literally ran to share what I had learned with my husband. It was my first experience with a composer who could translate pain and power into artistry and activism, taking on the role of the victim…crying out in pain, with love. Michael was pleading on behalf of a dying planet, deeply inside the pain. The fifth track on Michael’s HISTORY Album, an album of pure genius, I found myself listening over and over again with seemingly endless tears. Here was an artist who had broken every known imaginable record, won every imaginable award, selling more than any artist in history, being brutally attacked and thoroughly abused by extortionists and tabloid media who gleefully predicted his demise, the most famous and well-known human being on the planet…who could have quite easily and quite simply released compilations of his work…instead feeling aching moral responsibility, turned himself into the most influential global spokesperson for environmentalism. He knew the backlash that would follow his efforts, but remained steadfastly true to preserving the physical energy of the music and the musical statement itself, never backing away from activism. Michael felt the turbulent emotions running through him, an unparalleled wave in the ocean of human expression. Always returning to the collective spirit and power of human beings, Michael’s CALL AND RESPONSE defined its roots in musical tradition as a form of resistance to oppression, representative of the struggles of humankind, and energized into action. Earth, herself, cries out against this human tragedy, against seemingly insurmountable odds. Harnessing the pain and tragedy into productive ends was always Michael’s modus operandi. MICHAEL BELIEVED IN THE HUMANITY, POWER AND LOVE OF THE PEOPLE…depending on that energy to make changes in the human struggle. This was not music for the small or narrow-minded…and, Michael was not one to deliver the expected, or be harnessed by media and critics. The spectacles that he created in performance of EARTH SONG, left little doubt he was the most powerful artist of the modern era.
“The gesture of passion embodied in Michael’s performances of Earth Song-ICONIC, TRANSCEND-burns itself into the collective consciousness of the 20th and 21st Centuries.”
Joseph Vogel/Jude Ling
As Michael performs, he allows himself to become whatever the music is saying…crying in the wilderness, with civil disobedience placing him and his art firmly against powers of destruction. His performance art includes the recorded performance, the short film performance and the live performance. Offering every bit of God given talent, blood and sweat, Michael’s music cries, his body as canvas offers energies and storytelling… theatre brings anguish and supplication, which reveal his belief that among the destruction there are pockets of humanity and beauty…and, a collective music. RECORDED PERFORMANCE: “I believe in its primordial form, all of creation is sound and that it’s not just random sound, that it’s music.” Michael Jackson Earth Song begins with nature’s music…the harp inspired from Michael’s knowledge of classical composers like Debussy and Tchaikovsky…evoking dreamlike worlds. Then, the beautiful and hypnotic piano prefacing Michael’s melancholy, world-weary vocals. Michael’s storytelling describes a world turned wasteland. The non-verbal cries give Nature her solos…drama building. Lyrics reveal anguish, queries and indignation. The song builds to its massive civil rights demonstration set to music. Joseph Vogel…in his book EARTH SONG…Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus…walks us through each lyric and element of the composition…the depth of this work is phenomenal and important for the world to understand. For me, the music is haunting. Although many have tried, “it is impossible for other artists to sing Michael’s music…he breathes into his songs his intensity, his exquisite vocal colors, his phrasing, his rhythmic intricacy and his precision…all pointing to Michael Jackson’s musical genius, his singularity as an artist.” Susan Fast The climax of Earth Song pushes the song to another level. Earth’s aching cries, Michael’s question to us all, “DO YOU GIVE A DAMN!” Both Michael and the Andrae Crouch Choir give us what was, what is and what could be. “Earth Song is an excellent illustration of how versatile Michael is vocally…it is a voice that conjures the human extremes, extreme heights and depths, extreme vulnerability and power, despair and rage.” J.V. SHORT FILM PERFORMANCE: Staking his beliefs in where we live and how we live, Michael walks through a burning forest, hangs onto a ravaged tree, he himself being battered by winds. Joseph Vogel tells us it is not a crucifixion, nor a sacrifice, but a positioning. Michael calls upon the collective from all around the world: the Amazon rainforest, a field in Tanzania, a war zone in Croatia, a burned down forest in New York…cruelty, pollution, death…then dropping to his knees, digging his fists into the soil in supplication, the swirling destruction and the struggling collective affect a sudden change. As if turning back time, the resistance to the status quo that is not only unjust, but unsustainable, seems to reverse the violence. “Earth Song is a musical apocalypse taking the listener from an imagined paradise of harmony and vitality to our present state of degradation and divisions.” J.V. The short film offers a light of hope as it ends with a return to what could be if we collectively make change. By caring about the EARTH’S PAIN, and the pain of others, by understanding how connected we are, and by our COLLECTIVE WILL TO CHANGE, can we hope to heal the world. JV A WORLD AS IT IS…A WORLD AS IT COULD BE. Man in the Music Joseph Vogel PERFORMANCE ART: Michael performed Earth Song for the first time in Royal Brunei, in a concert that preceded his HISTORY WORLD TOUR. It was a sultry evening, the performance lasting nearly three hours, his OUTRO was Earth Song… Michael, the mic and the music. I am not a person to quantify or compare performances because each has its own brilliance. But, I will say, I have shown it to many during our MICHAEL MARATHON EVENTS, and each and every time…those in attendance had two things in common: uncontrollable tears and the inability to speak. It is quite simply…SUPERB! In my lifetime, I have never experienced an artist who can evoke such emotion, both from himself and from others. MICHAEL IN PERFORMANCE IS A MIRACLE. His impromptu “TELL ME WHAT ABOUT IT!” is a moment in time when lives are changed. The HISTORY WORLD TOUR performance art for Earth Song represented theatre at its finest. “It was a potent blend of entertainment and art, prophecy and activism, music and visuals carried out in a way that had never been done before.” J. V. Enormous jumbotrons presented a collage of EARTH’S sufferings. The collective included all ages, cultures and colors. Man’s inhumanity to man was brought to the stage in the form of a tank and an armed soldier. Michael gave himself to the audience high above them on the cherry-picker by hanging full-length while crying out the lyrics…representing humanity and Earth, while stretched out below him was a sea of faces singing, WHAT ABOUT US? Although many have tried to reach the heights of Michael’s Earth Song performances…all have fallen short of the mark. Setting aside the unparalleled talent, the seven years of enormous effort to compose Earth Song, the countless hours recording, the creativity and inexhaustible commitment, setting all that aside…one needs to remember Michael traveled the world seeing despair, hopelessness, poverty, disease, first hand. He held children in his arms as they left this earth. Then, went out to perform. Giving hundreds of millions of dollars, composing and recording music and giving enormous energies to performance, donating his wages from that music and those performances…setting all that aside…Michael showed up for the world’s suffering…PERSONALLY. He witnessed it. All of that, he carried in his heart and, it informed the musician, vocalist, and performer he was. You cannot duplicate that. THERE IS ONLY ONE MICHAEL JACKSON. Michael took EARTH SONG to Wettan Das and World Music Award Shows. Each was an emotional performance which included a collective outreach and emotionally- stunned audiences. With arms lifted and candles lit, tears streaming down a kaleidoscope of the faces of people across the entire planet, Michael shared his artistry and activism.
HOW COULD ANYONE NOT BE CHANGED!
I I I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL!
I love you, My Dear Friends!
Thank you, Joseph Vogel, for your beautifully written EARTH SONG Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus HIS tory MYstory YOURstory OURstory
Dear Jude… beautifully written post as always. I do so wish Earth Song could be adopted as the official anthem for “climate change”.. especially in view of the amazing global protests this last weekend. It’s a crazy irony that Michael was (deliberately) mocked for his views on most subjects. Yet he was the one person who had a much better experience of the world and it’s problems than most of us would ever have .. because he was there.. he witnessed so much of it first hand. It’s easy to see with the benefit of hindsight just why he was such a threat to the status quo. Thankyou.. as always..(Sue)
Beautiful, stunning. Thank you for writing such thought provoking pieces, Jude. So full of wisdom and truth.
His work continues through those who understood his message and the reason he was here at such a time as this. Lord knows the world still needs him. Through love and tears, we will continue his work in his absence until it is done. Thank you, Jude.