‘Earth Song’ is one of Michael’s stand-out compositions and was released on the ‘HIStory’ album in June 1995. As Michael’s fans know he was very environmentally aware, and since childhood had sung and composed songs highlighting the perils faced by our planet and humankind, and is our song of the week.
Michael was first inspired to write this song when he was on the ‘BAD’ tour in Vienna. The song was slated to appear on his ‘Dangerous’ album but didn’t make the final song choice; eventually it was released on the ‘HIStory’ album, and as a single in December 1995.
Vienna in 1988
HIStory World Tour’s ‘Earth Song’
Tarangire National Park elephants
Earth Day banner
It is a ballad that unites elements of gospel, blues and opera. ‘Earth Song’ was Michael’s first song that clearly dealt with the environment and animal welfare. The song was written and composed by Michael and was produced by Michael, David Foster and Bill Bottrell.
The song was a top five hit in most European countries and here in the UK, it remains Michael’s best-selling single and was the UK’s coveted 1995 Christmas Number One single. ‘Earth Song’ was not released as a single in the USA, however it went on to receive recognition from various animal and environmental organizations. Michael received the Genesis Award: 1995 Doris Day Music Award, given each year for animal sensitivity. Michael performed a moving version of this song on his ‘HIStory’ World Tour.
The short film for ‘Earth Song’ was partly filmed in the Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, which is the natural home of giant elephants. In this masterpiece, Michael wished to convey the message of the importance of conservation of Earth’s treasures, and focused on the destruction and rebirth of Earth. It was directed by fine art photographer Nick Brandt and proved to be an expensive short film to produce, but was very well received by Michael’s fans and critics alike. It received awards such as a Le Film Fantastique: Best Video Award in 1996, the 1995 Doris Day Music Award at the Genesis Awards and a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video, Short Form in 1997.
Clips from the film showed massive areas of deforestation and droughts leaving the world barren, and also the deaths of vast numbers of elephants, all of which had massive effects on the human population. It was filmed in four geographic regions. The first location was the Amazon Rainforest, where a large part was wiped out, only a week after the film’s completion. Natives of the region appeared in the video, not actors.
Still from ‘Earth Song’
Inhabitants not actors
War Museum in Karlovac
The second scene was a war zone in Karlovac, Croatia, in which Slobodan Dimitrijević, a famous Serbian-born Croatian actor and residents of the area appeared.
The third location was Tanzania, which integrated scenes of illegal poaching and hunting into the short film. However, no animals were harmed in the making of ‘Earth Song,’ as the footage came from documentary archives. Sadly, a poacher killed an elephant within a mile of the shoot.
The final location was in Warwick, New York, where a safe forest fire was replicated in a corn field.
Eighteen years later, to celebrate ‘Earth’s Day’ on April 22nd, The Nature Conservancy took students from schools in the Arusha area of Tanzania, by bus, to that area on an educational nature trip, to supplement their knowledge on natural resources and wildlife conservation.
The students were all members of the ‘Shoots and Roots Clubs’ which will help young people to become young conservators and green-belt missionaries. The clubs run under the Jane Goodall Foundation which was named after the famous lady, who made such an impact with her research into chimpanzees and gorillas.
When the group entered Tarangire, the river of that name had just flooded, as it was the rainy season, and their vehicles were not able to cross the river which had just destroyed the bridge. The Nature Conservancy wants the people of the area to learn how to conserve their natural resources, habitat and environment for an early age.
The TNC knows that over 60% of Africa’s lands and waters are managed by the people who live on them. These people are undoubtedly the most vulnerable people on earth. As much as the people struggle to survive, so too does the wildlife.
The TNC wants to bridge the gap between conservation and human development by coming up with programmes that help villages to benefit from wildlife and other natural resources while in turn they play roles in protecting such important world heritage.
“We teach students to protect animal’s rights,” said the conservator of ‘Roots And Shoots.’ We are holding art painting competitions. They expect to name the winners on ‘World Biodiversity Day’ on May 25th.
here are now over 200 ‘Roots And Shoots’ clubs in primary and secondary schools in Tanga, Urisha , Manjara and Kikimanjaro regions with nearly 48,000 members.
They are also helping the members start profit-making ventures, such as beekeeping and making charcoal fuel from rubbish, like discarded paper. You can learn more here.
We think Michael would be SO proud!!!!
In 2011, the song was paired-up with the poem ‘Planet Earth’ which was previously released on Michael’s ‘This Is It,’ in 2009, with him reciting the poem and released as a song on the remix album ‘Immortal.’