I remember turning over to the B-Side of my cassette copy of the “Will You Be There” single and being instantly spooked out of my mind by the sound of Michael Jackson singing as if he was holding back tears.
I didn’t think anyone outside of the Jackson family (both real members and imagined) actually liked that song, but a couple of days later I learned otherwise. My friend said he loves this song because it reminds him of his own childhood. And no, I don’t mean that in a Papa Joe beat him and gave him such a poor self-image he wanted to alter his race and gender, too, sort of way. He said he just remembers liking the song as a kid, and whenever he hears it, he thinks of the past. I can relate because when I look back on my childhood favorites, I instantly think of playing Sade on my Fisher’s Price record player, and listening to Eightball and MJG’s Sittin’ On Top Of The World as my sister drove my brother and I to school (“Friend or Foe” was our favorite).
But this is where it gets tricky. When he told me he liked the song, I blurted out how “Childhood” was depressing as hell. He didn’t know what I meant by that. My response was, “Have you listened to that song? The whole thing is about him never having a childhood and being sad as hell about it.” And then I kept going. And going. And going. He said I ruined the song for him. That wasn’t my intention, but I mean, have ya’ll listened to that song?
As I’ve made clear several times, I love me some Michael Jackson (my namesake), but that song is gloomy. Let me check your wrist after you’re done singing gloomy.
At the time of the conversation, I could only remember the line, “Have you seen my childhood? I’m searching for the world where I come from.” Then I vaguely remembered him in the video looking extra pitiful in the forest like Peter Pan just kicked him out of the Lost Boys. Even back then I knew that song was about Michael Jackson getting his ass beat and never having fun as a child.
I have my own childhood issues. The last thing I needed was another reminder from the poster child for repressed memories of that.
Anyway, when I tried to explain why that song just wasn’t right then or now to me, he quipped back, “Who was paying attention to the lyrics at that age?”
Help me out, ya’ll. I can’t be alone, can I?
Maybe, because after telling another friend about what happened, she chimed in that she loved the song, too. And like him she wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics like that. She just thought it sounded nice. That I can understand, but someone tell me they can understand why someone – even a kid – wouldn’t be leading the sing-a-long to "Childhood."
I’ve since looked up the lyrics to this song, and if I weren’t convinced Michael needed to go see a therapist after recording that song (or a few decades prior), I am now.
Have you seen my Childhood? I'm searching for the world that I come from 'Cause I've been looking around In the lost and found of my heart... No one understands me They view it as such strange eccentricities... 'Cause I keep kidding around Like a child, but pardon me...
People say I'm not okay 'Cause I love such elementary things... It's been my fate to compensate, for the Childhood I've never known...
Have you seen my Childhood? I'm searching for that wonder in my youth Like pirates in adventurous dreams, Of conquest and kings on the throne... Before you judge me, try hard to love me, Look within your heart then ask, Have you seen my Childhood?
People say I'm strange that way' Cause I love such elementary things, It's been my fate to compensate,for the Childhood I've never known...
Have you seen my Childhood? I'm searching for that wonder in my youth Like fantastical stories to share The dreams I would dare, watch me fly...
Before you judge me, try hard to love me.The painful youth I've had Have you seen my Childhood....
The song is beautifully written, but I still want to write him a prescription. And before the MJ Unit e-got's me, I see the appeal in the song. It's sweet and shit, all that.
But all of this has got me to thinking do people really not pay attention to lyrics?
I remember trying to explain how Rihanna’s lyrical content was overtly sexual and obviously penned by a man and people looking at me as if I told them I just spotted Jesus doing “My Dougie.”
Most of the time, I refer to “Lemme Get That,” where she’s saying stuff like, “Wish I was in a flick, and I ain’t talking movies.” She also mentions something about “Why complain, he buying Gucci, babe?” Sounds like Tweety and Big Bird penned it, right?
I usually miss a lot of things when I first hear a song, too. Like the remix to “Your Body’s Callin’.” I had no idea a minor Aaliyah was telling Pissy, “Are you hungry? Do you want to eat?” Why wasn't that included in his trial?
I would think these days most people could catch the lyrics on any most songs out now given so many of them have a 50 word, two syllable limit.
Besides, what if they're giving away lotto numbers in a song? You would be missing out.
So c'mon nah, fill me in: Do you pay attention?
P.S. Mike could’ve added a little bit more color to the cast. He knows he could have let the Black boy fly, too.
And if I have ruined "Childhood" for you, too, I'm sorry. Don't blame me, though. Blame Joe.