Liberian Girl

Album: Bad (1987)
Charted: 13

Songfacts®:

  • 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.

Comments: 3

  • Matt from AustraliaI agree with the comment below, such a good song but the video just does not suit it at all. When I listen to the track it has a paradise almost tropical theme to it and yet the video shows nothing of that. ‘Keep it in the closet’ or ‘remember the time’ video has themes that would of suit this song.
  • Luke Lee from London, UkThis is a great song. Quite possibly Michael's best ballad, and that's saying something. It's also a perfect tune for the slow dance of the night. What I don't like is the video, and when I was younger I thought it was the coolest thing ever, with all those famous people. I don't recognise half of them now. I really think a heartfelt, sensual song should have had a more African themed video. It would have been groundbreaking.
  • Kaz from C, OhThis song is smooth.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Mike Scott of The WaterboysSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Whole Of The Moon" and "Red Army Blues," and why rock music has "outlived its era of innovation."

Booker T. Jones

Booker T. JonesSongwriter Interviews

The Stax legend on how he cooked up "Green Onions," the first time he and Otis Redding saw hippies, and if he'll ever play a digital organ.

Charlie Benante of Anthrax

Charlie Benante of AnthraxSongwriter Interviews

The drummer for Anthrax is also a key songwriter. He explains how the group puts their songs together and tells the stories behind some of their classics.

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The Devil

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The DevilSong Writing

Just how much did these monsters of rock dabble in the occult?

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce PavittSong Writing

The man who ran Nirvana's first label gets beyond the sensationalism (drugs, Courtney) to discuss their musical and cultural triumphs in the years before Nevermind.

Kip Winger

Kip WingerSongwriter Interviews

The Winger frontman reveals the Led Zeppelin song he cribbed for "Seventeen," and explains how his passion for orchestra music informs his songwriting.