🎶 Earth Song 🎶 (2. analysis)

Damage Earth Destruction Environment Pollution

What about sunrise
What about rain
What about all the things that you said
We were to gain
What about killing fields
Is there a time
What about all the things
That you said were yours and mine

In the first verse Michael Jackson begins with very natural images, such as sunrise and rain, but soon he introduces the contrasting notion of killing fields, the first hint at man’s destructive power.
He also references the economic or political benefits that were promised or sought, but that have come at the cost of environmental destruction: we pollute or damage because we don’t think about the consequences of our actions, or because we believe it will save money.
By combining these opposing images, the beauty of nature and our deleterious actions, the singer  implies that this beauty may soon disappear if we do not stop destroying everything around us.


Did you ever stop to notice
All the blood we’ve shed before
Did you ever stop to notice
This crying Earth, these weeping shores

Here he is addressing a not well defined “you” with all his questions: this may be God to whom he talks as in a prayer or a lament, or all of us.
It is a sort of combination of God and Humans, who have gained great power over nature, which has made us regard ourselves as superior, conquerors, in a word, godlike. Yet, we should acknowledge we are destroying the Earth, before it is too late.
“The blood we’ve shed before” may refer to the blood caused by wars and hunts; or, metaphorically, to all of our guilts.
Nature here is personified, has emotions, it is a being with feelings, able to cry, to weep.


Aah, ooh
Aah, ooh

There are no words in the chorus, only ‘aah, ooh.’ Its simplicity makes it easy for listeners to pick up and remember. This should remind them of the meaning behind the song or be seen as Michael screaming out for help while trying to change the way people are living and treating the Earth.


What have we done to the world
Look what we’ve done

What about all the peace
That you pledge your only son
What about flowering fields
Is there a time?
What about all the dreams
That you said was yours and mine

At the beginning of the second stanza the singer explicitly asks what we have done to the world. He is begging the listeners to open their eyes and look at the result of our deeds. The use of “we” shows that Michael himself feels part of the human race that is destroying the Earth.
The next two lines (What about all the peace / that you pledge your only son) indicate that there is no peace at all. He is referring to God who sent His only Son to bring peace on Earth and wonders about the harmony among people.
He then mentions flowers, which are symbols of love and dreams, but the past tense shows that they have disappeared, they are memories, what remains is the regret we will feel after realizing that our hopes haven’t come true.

The question “is there a time?”, means: has there been/ will there be a time without destruction, war, and exploitation of nature, but perhaps such a world in peace has never existed


Did you ever stop to notice
All the children dead from war
Did you ever stop to notice
This crying earth, these weeping shores

These lines are part of the refrain, but line two has been changed into “All the children dead from war”, which is connected both to “all the blood we’ve shed before” and to the idea of innocence. Incorrupt children and nature, unable to defend themselves, are destroyed.

Aah, ooh
Aah, ooh


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

These lines do not refer only to Michael, but to mankind in general, who seems to have taken the Earth for granted and then fallen asleep, not realising it is on the brink of collapse.
Michael (and man in general) used to think he was happy, that he belonged to a world he knew well; once he had dreams and hopes but now no longer understands where he is: he only knows that he has deviated a lot from what he thought his aim was.


Hey, what about yesterday
(What about us)
What about the seas
(What about us)
The heavens are falling down
(What about us)
I can’t even breathe
(What about us)
What about everything
(What about us?)
I didn’t do?
(What about us?)
What about nature’s worth?
It’s our planet’s womb
(What about us?)
What about animals?
(What about it?)
Turned kingdoms to dust
(What about us?)
What about elephants?
(What about us?)
Have we lost their trust?
(What about us?)
What about crying whales
(What about us?)
Ravaging the seas?
(What about us?)
What about forest trails?
Burnt, despite our pleas
(What about us?)
What about the holy land?
(What about it?)
Torn apart by creed?
(What about us?)
What about the common man?
(What about us?)
Can’t we set him free?
(What about us?)
What about children dying?
(What about us?)
Can’t you hear them cry?
(What about us?)
Where did we go wrong?
Someone tell me why
(What about us?)
What about baby boys?
(What about it?)
What about the days?
(What about us?)
What about all their joy?
(What about us?)
What about the man?
(What about us?)
What about the crying man?
(What about us?)
What about Abraham?
What about us?)
What about death again?
(Ooh, ooh)
You don’t give a damn!

In the final part Michael Jackson asks what happened to the beautiful Earth of the past, its natural habitats and animals. Each time he mentions a different topic that has been negatively impacted by human forces, such as animals, seas, forests, children, and so on.
Nature is defined “our planet’s womb”, the place that constantly gives life and in the last lines the song becomes a call for man to remember that the Earth is our inheritance from God through Abraham, to think about eternal death, and to wonder whether we really care and want to do something to prevent this devastation. (“Do we give a damn”)

This series of questions starting with “What about…” is echoed by the chorus with a repeated answer which is in turn another question “What about us?”.
This may positively show that people are eventually realising that the Earth will not be here for much longer if we don’t take care of it, or it may simply show the selfishness of people who only worry about themselves and represent the uncaring masses, who think they are at the centre of the universe,

Anyway, the repetition is a great appeal to human emotion and it may provoke different reactions: shame, guilt, remorse, sympathy…

23 thoughts on “🎶 Earth Song 🎶 (2. analysis)

  1. I love this song, Luisa. One of my favorites of Michael Jackson’s. It was a soulful cry about the Earth that is slowly facing destruction. Thank you for such a comprehensive breakdown of the song.


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