Vogel's piece, entitled "Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson's Magnum Opus" begins by using the imagery of medieval masterpieces such as the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Cathedral to demonstrate the opulence that surrounded Jackson in 1988. Jackson, Vogel explains, was in the middle of the Bad Tour, and when time allowed, visited what the world considers to be the magnum opuses of art; Michelangelo's sculpture of David and the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Cathedral at the Vatican in Rome. Vogel takes his audience by the hand, placing them squarely beside Jackson at the window of a luxurious Vienna hotel, where the megastar "could see majestically lit museums, cathedrals and opera houses." Without the benefit of photographs, Vogel immerses the reader in gilded Viennesse culture while simultaneously revealing that despite the ambience and environment of privilege that Jackson enjoyed, "he also felt a profound and responsibility to use his celebrity for more than fame and fortune..."
This solicitude, states Vogel, caused the birth of Earth Song within Jackson. In the late 1980's, the once hushed murmurs of man's responsibility to nature were no longer limited to the stoicism of environmental scientists. As evidenced by Time Magazine's annual Person of the Year cover, Vogel explains that in 1989, rather than a person, the cover was dedicated to "Endangered Earth", to emphasize the crisis of the world's natural environment. Jackson, acutely aware of the perilous condition of nature, held a "relationship with the natural world; one of intimacy, wonder and respect. It rejects the traditional Western notion that humans 'own' nature and can do with it what they please." Vogel moves the reader beyond the conventional belief that Jackson was naive and unsophisticated, to that of a man who understood the world around him, and "was deeply invested in....trying to change the world."
Vogel facilitates his audience to further understand that Jackson was heavily influenced by his childhood religion, the Jehovah's Witnesses. By late 1987, Jackson officially resigned from the faith. Vogel explains that along with the rejection of the Jehovah's Witness belief that "the purpose in life was to become a part of an elite group of righteous members that would rule the earth after it was destroyed", Jackson's artistic purpose "was now fused with a much more cosmic outlook of harmony, immediacy and interconnectedness."
With Jackson's newly found mission through his musical and artistic expression, Vogel whisks the reader from the Italian Peninsula to Neverland Ranch, in the Santa Ynez Valley of California. Vogel confirms the superstar's dedication to ecological issues, by stating that before recording began at Westlake Studios in Hollywood with Bill Botrell, "Jackson brought in a VHS of the 1985 John Boorman-directed film, The Emerald Forest, which recounts the story of a Brazilian tribe (the “Invisible People”) and rain forest under siege by corporate colonizers. It is a well-worn theme now, but at the time of its release, it was revolutionary for the ecological movement, drawing massive attention to the destruction of the Amazon. Jackson told Bottrell to watch it and internalize it to 'prepare' him to work on “Earth Song.”
Author Joe Vogel covers every facet of Jackson's seven year odyssey in the construction of Jackson's social anthem dedicated to responsibility to the natural world. From its stem based in multicultural fusion, to influences ranging from Nietzsche to John Lennon, Vogel delivers what others have failed. Vogel juxtaposes Jackson's influences next to his conscience and provides the foundation for a detailed account of how Earth Song came to fruition.
Just as Samuel Butler said, this author, Joe Vogel has altered history by spotlighting Earth Song. It's Michael's history, it's his history, it's HIStory. Vogel has set the standard so high, that anything else is an exercise in futility, or rather, an exercise in sophistry.