Written and Composed by Michael Jackson
Produced by Michael Jackson for MJJ Productions, Inc. and David Foster for Chartmaker, Inc.
From the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future—Book I, released June 20, 1995
Released as a single May 31, 1995
THE SHORT FILM
Director: Nicholas Brandt
Primary Production Location: Los Angeles, California
Michael Jackson’s short film for “Childhood” was the second of seven short films produced for recordings from HIStory: Past, Present and Future—Book I, Michael’s fifth album as an adult solo performer. “Childhood” charted around the world as a double A-side with HIStory’s lead single, “Scream,” reaching No. 1 in Spain, Italy, Belgium and New Zealand and peaking in the Top 10 in another 11 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Australia. In the United States, the double A-side single (with “Scream”) was the first in the 37-year history of Billboard to debut at No. 5.
In the song’s lyrics, Michael yearns “for the childhood I’ve never known,” urging listeners to look past what may seem as “strange eccentricities” and “try hard to love me.” “When you grow up like I did in front of 100 million people since the age of five, you’re automatically different,” Michael said in 1993, accepting a Grammy Legend Award. “My childhood was completely taken away from me. There was no Christmas, no birthdays. It was not a normal childhood, no normal pleasures of childhood. Those were exchanged for hard work, struggle and pain, and eventual material and professional success.”
The “Childhood” short film features Michael singing the song in an enchanted forest as children fly above him in sailboats. Toward the end of the short film, one young child watches the boats from the ground before flying up to join his new friends. Actors Jason James Richter and Francis Capra appear in the cast of children; both boys starred in Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, which included “Childhood” on its soundtrack.