HIStory

by Michael Jackson,  James Harris III, and Terry Lewis

0:00
(audio clip of “The Great Gate of Kiev” from Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky/Ravel)

0:21
(gong, chimes, snare drum)

0:25
“Monday, March 26, 1827” (voiceover, date of Ludwig van Beethoven’s death)
“November 28, 1929” (voiceover, date of Berry Gordy, Jr.’s birth)

0:32
(record needle scratch)

0:35
Whatever I sing, that’s what I really mean. Like if I’m singing a song, I don’t sing it if I don’t mean it.”
(audio clip of a 1970 Michael Jackson interview, layered over a warped tape of a band arrangement of “America the Beautiful”)

0:48
“Remember, it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place.”
(audio clip of Princess Elizabeth’s 1940 radio speech “Greetings to the Children of England”)

0:58
“He made it, Charles A. Lindbergh, first person to fly New York to Park nonstop!”
(vintage news recording from 1927 credited to NBC’s Lowell Thomas, trumpet fanfare)

1:03
“And that was a page in history that’ll probably stand for a long time.”
(male voiceover, American style military band music)

1:08
He got kicked in the back
He said that he needed that
He hot willed in the face
Keep daring to motivate
He said one day you will see
His place in world history
He dares to be recognized
The fire’s deep in his eyes

1:28
How many victims must there be
Slaughtered in vain across the land?
And how many struggles must there be
Before we choose to live the prophet’s plan?
Everybody sing

1:49
Everyday create your history
Every path you take you’re leaving your legacy
Every soldier dies in his glory
Every legend tells of conquest and liberty

2:09
(CBS sportscaster Art Collier giving play-by-play of Henry Aaron’s record-breaking 715th homerun in 1974, American style military band music)

2:17
“I am the greatest of all time”
(audio clip credited to Muhammad Ali, needle scratch, more band music)
“By any means necessary”
(audio clip credited to Malcolm X)

2:24
Don’t let no one get you down
Keep moving on higher ground
Keep vying until you are the king of the kill
No force of nature can break your will to self motivate
She say this face that you see
Is destined for history

2:44
How many people have to cry
The song of pain and grief across the land?
And how many children have to die
Before we stand to lend a healing hand?
Everybody sing

3:05 (choir)
Everyday create your history
Every path you take you’re leaving your legacy
Every soldier dies in his glory
Every legend tells of conquest and liberty

3:26
Everyday create your history
Every page you turn you’re writing your legacy (unintelligible voice over)
Every hero dreams of chivalry
“I have a dream”
(audio clip of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech)
Every child should sing together in harmony

3:47 (solo)
All nations sing
Let’s harmonize all around the world

3:51
(American band music, crowd cheers)

3:56
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”
(audio clip of Dr. King’s 1963 speech)

4:11
How many victims must there be
Slaughtered in vain across the land?
How many children must we see
Before we learn to live as brothers?
And be one family? oh

4:35 (full choir)
Everyday create your history
history (solo ad lib))
Every path you take you’re leaving your legacy
legacy (solo ad lib)
Every soldier dies in his glory
his glory (solo ad lib)
“December 1920” (voice over)
Every legend tells of conquest and liberty
and liberty (solo ad lib)

4:55
Everyday create your history
“July 17, 1959” (voice over)
Every page you turn you’re writing your legacy
Every hero dreams of chivalry
(unintelligible voice over)
All the world will sing (solo ad lib)
Every child should sing together in harmony

5:15
A soldier dies
A mother cries
The promised child (child’s voice)
Shines in the baby’s eyes
All nations sing
Let’s harmonize all around the world

5:31
“From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, and God bless all of you on this good earth”
(audio from the 1968 Apollo 8 space mission, crowd cheering, unintelligible spoken dates)

5:41 (thread 1 begins, voiceovers without musical accompaniment)
“February 11, 1847 Thomas Edison is born”
“December 30, 1865 Rudyard Kipling is born”
“December 7, 1903 The Wright Brothers first flight”
“January 15, 1929 Martin Luther King is born”
“October 14, 1947 Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier”
“February 9, 1964 The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show”
“November 10, 1989 The Berlin Wall comes down”

5:42 (thread 2 begins)
“January 18, 1858 Daniel Hale Williams is born”
“August 8, 1866 Matthew Henson is born”
“May 29, 1917 John F. Kennedy is born”
“September 1928 The discovery of penicillin”
“January 17, 1942 Muhammad Ali is born as Cassius Clay”
“April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin’s first space flight”
“April 12, 1981 The first Shuttle flight”

5:43 (thread 3 begins)
“November 19, 1863 Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg address”
“December 5, 1901 Walt Disney is born”
“November 2, 1920 The first commercial radio station opens”
“October 9, 1940 John Lennon is born”
“July 17, 1955 Disneyland opens”
“July 20, 1969 Astronauts first land on the moon”

5:44 (thread 4 begins)
“April 9, 1865 The Civil War ends”
“October 28, 1886 The Statue of Liberty is dedicated”
“January 31, 1919 Jackie Robinson is born”
“November 28, 1929 Berry Gordy is born”
“December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give her bus seat to a white passenger”

6:10
“I am the Edison phonograph, created by the great wizard of the New World to delight those who would have melody or be amused”
(audio clip of first promotional recording, read by Len Spencer in 1906)

6:13
Mary had a little lamb
It’s fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go
(audio clip of Thomas Edison recalling the first words he spoke to create the first phonograph recording in 1877, layered over the promotional clip)

6:19
“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”
(audio clip of Edward Kennedy eulogizing his brother, Robert F. Kennedy in 1968)

6:28
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”
(audio clip of Neil Armstrong’s first moonwalk in 1969)

Special thanks to Lisha McDuff for assembling these lyrics and audio clips, and for providing links to the originals where possible. Lisha joined us for a post about “HIStory” that discusses these lyrics.

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