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This song of gratitude for the existence of a loved one was written and composed by Michael Jackson. His producer Quincy Jones wanted him to write most of the songs for the Bad album, and he did, composing 8 of the 10 tracks. Jones was amazed at the range of Jackson's songwriting, and was very impressed that he came up with this unusual track. The song finds Jackson singing about a special girl from the African nation of Liberia, and it opens with the South African female singer Letta Mbulu saying the Swahili phrase "Naku penda piya-naku taka piya-mpenziwe," which translates to "Love you too. I want you too, my love." There was some geographic liberty here, as Swahili is not spoken in Liberia.
This wasn't released in the United States, but was the ninth single released from the Bad album in Europe and Australia.
It was widely reported that this song was dedicated to Jackson's close friend Elizabeth Taylor, although Taylor is certainly not Liberian and such a dedication wouldn't make much sense. Jackson did write a more obviously dedicated song for Taylor called "Elizabeth I Love You," which he performed at her 65th birthday celebration, which aired on ABC on February 25, 1997.
The World première of the video took place in July 1989. It starred Michael Jackson, Brigitte Nielsen, Paula Abdul, Whoopie Goldberg, Quincy Jones, Jackie Collins, Rosanna Arquette, Lou Diamond Phillips, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, Steven Spielberg, Debbie Gibson, Weird Al Yankovic, Bubbles the chimp, Suzanne Somers, Lou Ferrigno, Don King and "Son", David Copperfield, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover, Olivia Hussey, Dan Aykroyd and Steve Guttenberg.
The rapper Tupac Skakur sampled the instrumentation of this song on "Letter 2 My Unborn," a track from his posthumous album Until the End of Time.
Susanna Hoffs - "Eternal Flame"
The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."
Meet the "sassy basket" with the biggest voice in country music.
Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"
When Dave recorded the first version of the song with his group the Blasters, producer Nick Lowe gave him some life-changing advice.