Lost Childhood


By Michael Jackson

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 and 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…

[Lyrics from eLyrics.net]


From Michael Jackson, “Glenda Tapes”, Phonecalls To A Friend Taped Without His Knowledge, 1991 
Transcript 3:2, around February 1991

MJ: When you’re brought up… We used to play at the club circuits and stuff like that, you know, with all the black groups and it’s like, you’re brought up and then we finally went with Motown and stuff. You’re brought up… You’re taught to be a certain way because you’re in the public eye. The close-knit, the close-knit family, the tight-knit family, whatever, and “Papa Joe this,” and “Papa Joe was wonderful,” and “Papa Joe helped do this and that.” When things start falling apart, then you gotta cover for it, you know, because you’re out there and you gotta cover for it. I would come home. We would come home from sessions and if we didn’t do something right, we’d get beat with a sock full of wet sand because it didn’t leave bruises. We’d go to the studios the next day and, and, you know, people in the business, people in the Motown family, they knew what was going on. I mean if you did something wrong and Joseph was there, he’d slap the mess out of us. They knew what was going on but it was like, you have to portray this certain image. You have to smile and everything. And everything like “y’all so tight.” “The Jackson family came from poverty, you know, from being nobody” and (I)
Sam: ?
MJ: Joseph is dangerous.

From Michael Jackson and Rabbi Shmuley, 2000/1

Jackson told Shmuley that growing up, he and his siblings would dread the moment their father came home.
Michael Jackson: We’d hear his car comin’ the driveway. He always drove a big Mercedes and he drives real slow. “Joseph’s home, Joseph’s home, quick!” Doors slam, everybody runs to their room.
Like there’s sometimes I’d be in bed at night sleeping, it’s 12 at night. The door is locked. He said, “I’m giving you five seconds, you don’t open, I’m going to kick it down.” And he starts kicking it, boom! Like breaking the door down. Why didn’t you sign that contract today? I go, “I don’t know.” He goes, “Well, sign it. If you don’t sign it, you are in trouble.”
Rabbi Shmuley: So you would sign?
Michael Jackson: I had to! He would, he was very physical. He’d throw you and hit you as hard as he can.
Michael Jackson: He was rough. The way he would beat you, you know, was hard, you know. Sometime he take, um, he would make you strip nude first. He would oil you down. It would be a whole ritual. He would oil you down so when the flip of the ironing cord hit you, you know. And it would just like be dying and you had whips all over your face, your back, everywhere. And I always hear my mother, “No, Joe! You’re gonna kill ‘em. You’re gonna kill ‘em, no!” I would just give up, like there was nothing I could do, you know? And I, and I hated him for it, hated him.
Rabbi Shmuley: Did you begin to feel that you were like a moneymaking machine for him?
Michael Jackson: Yes. I’ll never forget it, one day he said, “If you guys ever stop singing, I’ll drop you like a hot potato.” That’s what he said. It hurt me. You don’t say that to children and I never forgot it. You would think he would think, ‘These kids have a heart and feelings.’ Wouldn’t he think that would hurt us? If I said something like that to Prince and Paris, that would hurt. You don’t say something like that to children and I never forgot it. It affects my relationship with him today.”
Michael Jackson: I never felt love from him. And he would never hold me or touch me.
That’s the real truth. I wanted people to love me, truly love me, because I never really felt loved. I said I know I have an ability. Maybe if I sharpened my craft, maybe people will love me more. I just wanted to be loved because I think it is very important to be loved and to tell people that you love them and to look in their eyes and say it.
Rabbi Shmuley: He only has one memory of his father ever doing anything loving for him as a child. He was about 5 years old. He was at a carnival. And his father picked him up and put him on a horse. And he said he has relived that moment almost every day of his life. Michael learned the devastating effects of neglecting a child.Jackson told Shmuley his sadness created a torment so wrenching that he and his siblings even fantasized about their father being dead.
Michael Jackson: We used to say to our mother, we used to say to each other, and I’ll never forget this. Janet and myself, we say, I would say, “Janet, shut your eyes.” She’d go, “Okay, they’re shut.” I’d say, “Picture Joseph in a coffin. He’s dead. Did you feel sorry?” She’d go, “No.” That’s what we used to do to each other as kids. We’d like play games like that. She’d go, she’d go, “Nope.” Just like that. And that’s how hateful we were.

Jackson told Boteach he was still “scared of my father to this day.”
“My father walked in the room — and God knows I am telling the truth — I have fainted in his presence many times. I have fainted once to be honest. I have thrown up in his presence because when he comes in the room and this aura comes and my stomach starts hurting and I know I am in trouble. He is so different now. Time and age has changed him and he sees his grandchildren and he wants to be a better father. It is almost like the ship has sailed its course, and it is so hard for me to accept this other guy that is not the guy I was raised with. I just wished he had learned that earlier.”

 From Michael Jackson on Oprah, February 1993

Michael : Yes, and I had pimples so badly it used to make me so shy, I used not to look at myself, I’d hide my face in the dark, I wouldn’t want to look in the mirror and my father teased me and I just hated it and I cried every day.
Oprah : Your father teased you about your pimples?
Michael : Yes and tell me I’m ugly.
Oprah : Your father would say that?
Michael : Yes he would. Sorry Joseph.
Oprah : What’s your relationship like with him?
Michael : I love my father but I don’t know him.
Oprah : Are you angry with him for doing that? I think that’s pretty cruel actually.
Michael : Am I angry with him?
Oprah : Because adolescence is hard enough without a parent telling you that you’re ugly.
Michael : Am I angry with him? Sometimes I do get angry. I don’t know him the way I’d like to know him. My mother’s wonderful. To me she’s perfection. I just wish I could understand my father.
Oprah : And so let’s talk about those teen years. Is that when you started to go inside yourself? Because obviously you haven’t spoken to the world for 14 years. So you went inside, you became a recluse. Was it to protect yourself?
Michael : I felt there wasn’t anything important for me to say and those were very sad, sad years for me.
Oprah : Why so sad? Because on stage you were performing, you were getting your Grammies. Why so sad?
Michael : Oh, there’s a lot of sadness about my past and adolescence, about my father and all of those things.
Oprah : So he would tease you, make fun of you.
Michael : Yes.
Oprah : Would he … did he ever beat you?
Michael : Yes.
Oprah : And why would he beat you?
Michael : He saw me, he wanted me … I guess I don’t know if I was his golden child or whatever it was, some may call it a strict disciplinarian or whatever, but he was very strict, very hard, very stern. Just a look would scare you, you know.
Oprah : And were you scared of him?
Michael : Very. Like there’s been times when he’d come to see me, I’d get sick, I’d start to regurgitate.
Oprah : As a child or as an adult?
Michael : Both. He’s never heard me say this. I’m sorry, please don’t be mad at me.
Oprah : Well, I mean, I suppose everybody has to take responsibility for what they’ve done in life. And your father is one of those people who also have to take responsibility.
Michael : But I do love him.
Oprah : Yes, I understand this.
Michael : And I am forgiving.

From Michael Jackson, Oxford Union Speech, March 2001

I have started reflecting on the fact that my father grew up in the South, in a very poor family. He came of age during the Depression and his own father, who struggled to feed his children, showed little affection towards his family and raised my father and his siblings with an iron fist. Who could have imagined what it was like to grow up a poor black man in the South, robbed of dignity, bereft of hope, struggling to become a man in a world that saw my father as subordinate. I was the first black artist to be played on MTV and I remember how big a deal it was even then. And that was in the 80s!

My father moved to Indiana and had a large family of his own, working long hours in the steel mills, work that kills the lungs and humbles the spirit, all to support his family. Is it any wonder that he found it difficult to expose his feelings? Is it any mystery that he hardened his heart, that he raised the emotional ramparts? And most of all, is it any wonder why he pushed his sons so hard to succeed as performers, so that they could be saved from what he knew to be a life of indignity and poverty?

I have begun to see that even my father’s harshness was a kind of love, an imperfect love, to be sure, but love nonetheless. He pushed me because he loved me. Because he wanted no man ever to look down at his offspring.

And now with time, rather than bitterness, I feel blessing. In the place of anger, I have found absolution. And in the place of revenge I have found reconciliation. And my initial fury has slowly given way to forgiveness.

Source:  http://rhythmofthetide.com/joe-jackson-and-abuse-michael-jacksons-childhood/


4 comments on “Lost Childhood

  1. Don’t know this one.

    • I had to know to look for it. In one of his interviews he said that this song was the most revealing of what he had been facing. I will put up links when I work on filling in the blanks. Much appreciated. Peace.

  2. MJ was born into slavery just like the rest of us…

    • I am yet to see someone who is not a slave in one way or the other. But MJ hit the jackpot. To be young, gifted, and Black. The more I read about the real story, the more I understand how courageous he was. But, he was so far ahead, that it was too difficult to understand beyond the surface. That reminds me to look up “Dirty Diana”. Peace.

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