Michael Jackson, „Lost Children“ and the real Story behind

The following text is an attempt to provide a translation.
Mistakes are not excluded…

Michael Jackson Invicible Twilight Zone Kick the can Lost Children
„This is me! This is me!“, Michael Jackson 1990. Picture: „Kick the Can“, Twilight Zone, 1962 Source

There is always more behind the art of Michael Jackson. Even if music critics don’t want to hear it. LOST CHILDREN is the name of the song that Michael Jackson released on his INVINCIBLE album in 2001. LOST CHILDREN is Jackson’s song for

„all the lost children“

Michael Jackson Lost Children Kick the Can Twilight Zone Invincible Album
Klick for Video on YouTube

Music critics have been ridiculing the song, involved musicians have been distancing themselves, fans step back. Michael Jackson sang about children.

But LOST CHILDREN is so much more.

Jackson sampled child voices in LOST CHILDREN. If you listen, their laughter can be heard. There are counting rhymes hidden in the song and a child never tired of challenging the listeners with the ancient announcement:

„Get ready folks! … 85, 90, 95, 100. Here I come, ready or not!“

But when Michael Jackson released LOST CHILDREN in 2001, those children’s voices were already half a century old.

Jackson took the children’s voices in LOST CHILDREN from a 50-year-old American series: „The Twilight Zone“, Episode „Kick the Can“ from 1962.

The inventor of „Twilight Zone“ was Rod Serling. Serling’s personally delivered introductions at the beginning and end of all episodes are legendary. They always have a moral that is thought-provoking. (Jackson also used other parts of Serling’s narrations for another song from the INVINCIBLE album: THREATENED).

LOST CHILDREN or searching for the lost child

michael Jackson childhood lost children twilight Zone kick the can
Jackson sang about his own childhood in CHILDHOOD and about die other LOST CHILDREN  2001 Source  and Source „Kick the Can“

Michael Jackson sampled the child voices for LOST CHILDREN from the „Twilight Zone“ episode „Kick the Can“. The episode is set in a home for the aged.

In LOST CHILDREN Jackson quotes exactly that „Home for the aged“ as a symbolic terminus for adults and for everything lost that was once childlike and alive. Dead end retirement home. That ist the place of Michael Jackson LOST CHILDREN. A dying place. Rod Serling introduced this place to his audience in 1962 in the episode „Kick the can“: 1

Sunnyvale Rest, a dying place for ancient people, who have forgotten the fragile magic of youth. A dying place for those who have forgotten that childhood, maturity, and old age are curiously intertwined and not separate. A dying place for those who have grown too stiff in their thinking – to visit – The Twilight Zone.“

Searching for your inner child or
„Genius is the power to be a boy at will.“ – James Barrie

2 Tradition dictates that adults no longer have to fly to Neverland, so we are stuck in Sunnyvale Rest, that dying place. But Rod Serling and Michael Jackson shared a mutual role model: James Barrie, author and the inventor of the eternally young celebrity „Peter Pan“ in 1901. Peter Pan is the boy who was brilliant enough to never grow up and lives in a place called Neverland.  James Barrie introduced Neverland to his audience in 1901 using these words:

„We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.“

Michael Jackson Lost Children Kick the Can Twilight Zone Rod Serling Craviotto, Darlene Peter Pan 2001 Invincible Album Brad Buxer
„Auch die Jungs waren inzwischen erwachsen und erledigt ….“ J.M. Barrie, 1911. Picture: Twilight Zone „Kick the Can“ Quelle

In Rod Serling’s „Kick the Can“ is also a genius among the old people who is full of excitement and joy. The old Charles is convinced that he has discovered the secret of youth: playing like children! At the home for the aged, Charles hears the voices of children playing „Kick the Can“ from the outside and he wonders if there isn’t some magic in these games.

„We played them as children. And the moment we stop, we grow old. But maybe, just maybe, if we keep playing, we can keep the magic. We can stay young.

The old man Charles initially placed all his hopes on his son who was supposed to free him from the old people’s home and thus put an end to his aging. And Peter Pan too flew back to his mother in James Barrie’s story in 1901 to remain a little boy forever. But his mother, in the course of time, had closed Peter’s window to the nursery forever. In „Kick the Can“ from 1964, it’s the other way around and the father wants to return to the (grown-up) son, but the son also refuses him to return to youth just like Peter Pan’s mother. Artist Rod Serling created the reversed Peter-Pan-situation in the dying place of the home for the aged called „Sunnyvale Rest“.

Also under Rod Serling’s direction play and fantasy are the keys which open the door to eternal youth. Serling shares this philosophy with James Barrie and Michael Jackson.

But „Kick the Can“ cannot be played alone. A bunch of people have to take part, a whole society has to remember to bring the inner child back to life. For outsider Charles the biggest challenge is to convince the home residents of this philosophy and to fill the „dying place“ with new life. The old man achieves the impossible, he mobilizes the old people in „Sunnyvale Rest“. They wake up. In the early 1990s Michael Jackson makes a statement about the story in „Kick the Can“:

„That schould be Peter (Pan)!“

Charles and Peter are leaders. So are James and Rod and Michael.

In „Kick the Can“ old Charles tries to convince his hardened friend and roommate of the magical theory that old can turn young again and that there is a „lost child“ in every old person. Without success:

„Old people need their rest!“

But Charles is not like other guys. Charles, like Peter Pan, does not follow the rules of society. He starts a revolution in the home for the aged until the rest of the elderly follow him. And Charles is right: while playing the game, the old people turn back into the children they once were. First mentally, spiritually and in the end even physically. While playing, the old people, these „lost“ children, fly into Neverland. It seems they disappear into Neverland at the end of their lives? To this place ‚With No Name‘?

„Where kids are playing and people are laughing and smiling/and nothing to fear.“

Michael Jackson, 1998, PLACE WITHOUT NO NAME. 3

What remains is the question whether this moment of new beginning was preceded by the death of the old.

Jackson’s LOST CHILDREN from 2001 are residents of a home for the aged from 1964

Jackson dedicated his music to the LOST CHILDREN in 2001, quoting the same old people who discovered the magic of youth by playing like kids again in Rod Serling’s „Twilight Zone“ episode „Kick the Can“, 1964:

Get ready folks! … 85, 90, 95, 100. Here I come, ready or not!“

Jackson also describes the slowly transformation of the old people who rediscover their childhood in the song LOST CHILDREN: Jackson first leads a choir of adult voices. Buried in the choir of adults, almost inaudibly quiet, like “ … the roar of the surf …“ these playing children can be heard:

Get ready folks …“

But more and more, under Jackson’s leadership, the choir of these adults, the „lost children“, is being transformed into an actual choir of children. The voice of the forty-year-old lead singer Jackson, who would be dead eight years later, becomes part of the young choir, while at the same time the children’s play becomes more and more prominent:

“ …85, 90, 95, 100. Here I come, ready or not!“

LOST CHILDREN from 2001 and PETER PAN from 1976

In song number 14 on the INVINCIBLE album, adults find in Jackson’s musical way to the lost children within themselves. In the song Jackson is telling the moral of „Kick The Can“ and makes the connection to the philosophy around Peter Pan. About a musical from 1976.

In 1976 Mia Farrow played the leading role in a musical about Peter Pan. Jackson is reported to have loved the play and wanted to adapt it. His wish did not come true but at least in his short film about CHILDHOOD  he played Peter Pan like Mia Farrow did in 1976.

Mia Farrow played Peter Pan, who sang about his loneliness on a rock the same way Jackson did twenty years later in his film CHILDHOOD:

l.: 1976, Mia Farrow as Peter Pan in the musical Quelle  r.: 1995, Michael Jackson as Peter Pan in CHILDHOOD Quelle

There is a scene in the „Peter Pan“ musical from 1976 in which three children pray in the evening before they meet for the first time Peter Pan. The prayer of these children is sung. And the children’s sung prayer in the 1976 „Peter Pan“ musical is similar in rhythm, melody and text to Jackson’s LOST CHILDREN from 2001.

Which makes Jackson’s LOST CHILDREN a prayer for all grown-up „lost children“ who „have forgotten the fragile magic of youth“.

„There are souls out there that are lost. People who have disappeared and have never been found again.“

Jackson, 2001. 4

„Childhood“ or the fountain of youth as the aRt of special thinking

Rod Serling’s „Kick the Can“ is a lesson in life. So is Jackson’s LOST CHILDREN. Jackson’s LOST CHILDREN had a predecessor who already asked the same question on the same topic in the song CHILDHOOD 1995: 5

Look within your heart then ask: “Have you seen my childhood?“

And a very confident Jackson had already established in 1992:

Deep inside, you know it’s true/Just find that child, it’s hiding in you.

Jackson, MAGICAL CHILD. 6

Jackson’s invitation to look out for the child in our hearts is buried in the story of the world star who had no childhood.

„Maybe the fountain of youth isn’t a fountain at all. Maybe it’s a way of looking at things – a way of thinking.” 

The man who in 1964 concluded a dialogue with these words in the episode „Kick The Can“ opened up a whole new world with them. 7

“ This is me!“ Michael Jackson in 1990 about an old man in a home for the aged.

Michael Jackson Lost Children Kick the Can Twilight Zone Rod Serling Craviotto, Darlene Peter Pan 2001 Invincible Album Brad Buxer
„This is me!“, Michael Jackson 1990. Source: „Kick the Can“, Twilight Zone 1962

„I am Peter Pan!“

Jackson told the world and they all thought of a cartoon character in green tights.

„This is me! This is me! This is me!“

Jackson excitedly referred to an old man who remained young in spirit.

„That should be Peter!”

Only 21 year old Jackson he already began with his special way of looking at things in 1980: 8

„[...] Grown – ups are really nothing but children who have lost all that real magic by not noticing and digging and finding out. I believe in that deeply.“

Michael Jackson about the LOST CHILDREN in „Kick the Can“

9

“There’s a good movie you gotta see!” Michael says, excitedly. “It was on ‘The Twilight Zone.’ It has so much heart! And it reminds me of Peter. Called Kick the Can. Gotta see it! Next time we meet, I’m showing you!” He laughs at the thought of it, brimming over with enthusiasm. “It has heart about it! That should be Peter!” […] You’re gonna like it!” He beams. “It’s got heart!” he shouts. “You gotta see it!” He lowers his voice and says slowly, “It’s wonderful!” Snapping his fingers for effect, “It has in it what Peter should have! Oh and it’s beautiful in the end!” […] “Kick the Can?” “Mm hm…Mm Hmmmmm!” he says with emphasis. The room grows silent again. Suddenly, I hear a little giggle. I look over at Michael—he is smiling broadly, staring at me like a kid with a big secret. “What?” […] He whispers, “You got to see Kick the Can!” […] “It’s great! When I saw it, I loved it! And I thought, ‘This is me! This is me! This is me!’

When Jackson built his Neverland in 1990 he found the following words: 10

„I love to bring out the child within each of us! I live fo these moments, and wish I could bringt out the child that exists within everyone!“

And Jackson in 1990: 11

„Peter Pan is about digging for that child inside of everyone, and playing with its emotions.“

A word to those who should try to understand:
James Barrie’s Peter Pan is a grown man’s grief over his lost childhood. Michael Jackson’s LOST CHILDREN is the hope that adults can reclaim their lost childhood.

Never-Neverland

The older we get, and the further we adults move away from our childhood the more we yearn to bring that childhood back – at least that childhood which exists in our wishful thinking, which we yearn for as adults. So the older we get the stronger is the longing for Neverland because with every day we realize how far away we have moved from it.

As a child we had the chance to live in Neverland and we had the luxury to deny Neverland. A luxury that we as adults can no longer afford.

Perhaps even the eternal boy named Peter Pan had always been an adult. Maybe he is part of us adults who are afraid to die. We, who are aware of the fear that we may never enter our personal Neverland in our lives will lose our very lives.

Neverland is the nostalgia, our dreams, escapism. Neverland is the only place where we learn to fly. Neverland was born out of imagination and longing of adults who realized that this land could only exist with the help of children. Writer James Barrie needed the children to remember as an adult what they called childhood. Barrie, who in his own childhood had by the death of his brother been forced to leave the natural Neverland of his childhood too soon. Barrie shared this circumstances with Michael Jackson, who had spent his entire childhood earning money for the family. And to entertain us adults.

Get ready folks! … 85, 90, 95, 100. Here I come, ready or not!“

„Ready or not, here I come!“ That allusion had a sense of humor, since Jackson unfortunately must have known what critic he was exposing himself by singing a song about lost children.

 

 

Michael Jackson Lost Children Kick the Can Twilight Zone Invincible Album
klick here for the video about Jackson’s LOST CHILDREN and „Kick the Can“ on YouTube

Quellen

  1. Serling, Rod, The Twilight Zone – Episode“ Cick the Can“ -(dt. Titel „Kinderspiele“), Rod Serling; George Clayton Johnson. 09.02.1962/04.12.2014, CBS, Koch Media GmbH, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734583/
  2. Barrie, James Matthew, Tommy and Grizel,  1900/1912, „What is genius? It is the power to be a boy again at will.“, https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11901; Copyright © Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children’s Charity
  3. Jackson, Michael, Song, Place Without No Name, 2014, „Where kids are playing and people are laughing and smiling/and nothing to fear […]/This is the place where no people have pain […]/This place is filled with love and happiness/so why in the world could I wanna leave?“-Jackson himself didn’t release this song but has apparently been working on it since 1998. In 2014 the song was released on the album „Xscape“ and advertised a car brand. But there is a lot of reason to believe that „Place Without No Name“ is Jackson’s wordplay for „Neverland“. The „Neverland“ as a „place with no name“
  4. Jackson, Michael, News of the World Interview 2001, 04.11.2001, „I’m saying there are souls out there that are lost. People who have disappeared and have never been found again. I remember when I was a little kid, I was in a department store with my mother. I was no more than five, I think. I turned around and she was gone. I’ll never forget the feeling. I felt my world was ending. So imagine really, really being lost. It’s like Armageddon of the brain.“, http://www.thesilencedtruth.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=132:2001-news-of-the-world-newspaper-interview&catid=38:interview&Itemid=72
  5. Jackson, Michael, CHILDHOOD – Album: HIStory – Past, Present and Future Book I, 14.06.1995, “Look within your heart then ask: “Have you seen my childhood?”, Sony Music
  6. Jackson, Michael, Dancing the Dream – part 2 MAGICAL child, 1992, „[…] If you could for one moment know/This spark of creation, this exquisite glow /You would come and dance with me /Kindle this fire so we could see /All the children of the Earth /Wave their magic and give new birth /To a world of freedom with no pain /A world of joy, much more sane/Deep inside, you know it’s true/Just find that child, it’s hiding in you.“, Doubleday an imprint of Transworld Publishers, London.
  7. Serling, Rod, The Twilight Zone – Staffel 3 – Episode „Cick the Can“ – Kinderspiele, 1961-4. Dezember 2014, “Maybe the fountain of youth isn’t a fountain at all. Maybe it’s a way of looking at things – a way of thinking.”  Koch Media GmbH – DVD.
  8. Jackson, Michael, Michael in Wonderland, Demorest, Steve. 01.03.1980, »So many people think certain things are childlike, but grown – ups are really nothing but children who have lost all that real magic by not noticing and digging and finding out. I believe in that deeply.”, Melody Maker/Music Newspaper, Seite 28/29
  9. Craviotto, Darlene, An Agoraphobic’s guide to Hollywood: How Michael Jackson Got Me Out of the House, 2011, Front Door Books
  10. Swinson, Robert E. „Rob“ Swinson, Maker of Dreams – Creating Michael Jackson’s „Neverland Valley Park“, 2013, Walsworth Publishin Company, Marceline, Missouri, Seite 26
  11. Craviotto, Darlene, An Agoraphobic’s guide to Hollywood: How Michael Jacksson, Front Door Books.

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