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Song of the Day for April 22: "Earth Song" by Michael Jackson

Two people and one event helped birth Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

Rachel Carson authored “Silent Spring” in 1962. She wrote about the dangers of the pesticide DDT. The book became a bestseller and created an awareness of what was happening to the environment. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson came into office in 1963 knowing something had to be done to help the deteriorating environment, after an oil spill off the Santa Barbara, California coast in 1969.

He and congressman Pete McCloskey took a page from the anti-war movement. They organized teach-ins on college campuses. They selected April 22 because it was after spring break but before finals on most college campuses. The idea grew into Earth Day.

Not everyone liked the idea. The John Birch Society, on the right, said it was a sly way to honor the 100th birthday of Vladimir Lenin. Liberals on the far left thought it was a distraction from protesting the Vietnam War. Congress passed large pieces of environmental legislation thanks to the growing movement, including the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. President Richard Nixon signed the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency into law eight months after the first Earth Day.

Michael Jackson released “Earth Song” in November 1995. The song was on HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I album. He said he wrote the song in an Austrian hotel. He said he wasn’t feeling optimistic about what was happening to the earth. The song was a wake up call for people to save the earth.

The song was popular in Europe. It became his best-selling single in the United Kingdom, where it charted at number one. The song also reached number one in Germany, Switzerland, Iceland, Scotland, Spain and Sweden. The song was only released to radio in the United States