♫ Gone Too Soon ♫

I had all but forgotten about this song, until tonight … when looking for a song for a special friend, but I couldn’t think of the title … I came across this.  And it brought back so many memories as I watched the video, listened to the music.  Memories of a friend who died of AIDS in the early part of this century, memories of following the Ryan White story, of the sadness when he died on 08 April 1990 of AIDS …

This song was written by Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan, and later sung by Michael Jackson, who dedicated the song to AIDS victim Ryan White. The American teenager became a national poster child for HIV/AIDS in the United States after being expelled from school because of his infection. Jackson befriended Ryan prior to his death.

Jackson performed this song at former President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration ball on January 20, 1993, where Michael gave the following dedication …

“Thank you, mister President-elect, for inviting me to your inauguration gala. I would like to take a moment from this very public ceremony to speak of something very personal. It concerns a dear friend of mine who is no longer with us. His name is Ryan White. He was a hemophiliac who was diagnosed with the AIDS virus when he was eleven. He died shortly after turning eighteen, the very time most young people are beginning to explore life’s wonderful possibilities. My friend Ryan was a very bright, very brave, and very normal young man who never wanted to be a symbol or a spokesperson for a deadly disease. Over the years, I’ve shared many silly, happy, and painful moments with Ryan and I was with him at the end of his brief but eventful journey. Ryan is gone and just as anyone who has lost a loved one to AIDS, I miss him deeply and constantly. He is gone, but I want his life to have meaning beyond his passing. It is my hope, President-elect Clinton, that you and your administration commit the resources needed to eliminate this awful disease that took my friend, and ended so many promising lives before their time. This song is for you Ryan” – Michael Jackson, January 1993.

R&B singer-songwriter Usher performed this song at Jackson’s memorial service on July 7, 2009.

Now, most of that I knew, but what I didn’t know was that Dionne Warwick first performed (but never recorded) the song in February 1983 on a TV special as a tribute to many performers, including Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, John Belushi, Cass Elliot, John Lennon, Bobby Darin, Minnie Riperton, Sam Cooke, Harry Chapin, Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Croce, Bobby Van and Karen Carpenter who had died days earlier. Later on the same day, Jackson called Kohan explaining he had wept while watching the performance and that he felt he wanted to record it some day.

This version was produced by Jackson and co-produced by Bruce Swedien for Jackson’s eighth studio album, Dangerous (1991).  The song was released on December 1, 1993, as the ninth and final single from the Dangerous album. Following its release—on World AIDS Day of 1993—Gone Too Soon became a moderate chart success in several countries: France, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and the UK. The song was released as a cassette single in the US, and became a hit in Zimbabwe, where it charted at number 3.

Gone Too Soon
Michael Jackson

Like a comet
Blazing ‘cross the evening sky
Gone too soon

Like a rainbow
Fading in the twinkling of an eye
Gone too soon

Shiny and sparkly
And splendidly bright
Here one day
Gone one night

Like the loss of sunlight
On a cloudy afternoon
Gone too soon

Like a castle
Built upon a sandy beach
Gone too soon

Like a perfect flower
That is just beyond your reach
Gone too soon

Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight
Here one day
Gone one night

Like a sunset
Dying with the rising of the moon
Gone too soon

Gone too soon

Songwriters: Larry Grossman / Alan “buz” Kohan
Gone Too Soon lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Spirit Music Group

16 thoughts on “♫ Gone Too Soon ♫

  1. I too, recall the sad story of the remarkable young Ryan White and of Michael Jackson’s involvement in the end of his journey through the devastating illness. If memory serves me correctly, I believe that the first time that I heard the song was on Jackson’s “Dangerous” album. Michael Jackson was another of my Son’s favorites then. A few years after Jackson’s death I read an article in the Atlantic about him and the song. I was so surprised by what I read that I saved it to show my Son and also because it was written by Joseph Vogel. Vogel is the author of the excellent 2011 book “Man in the Music : The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson”. It took me some searching to find my copy of the piece and by using this information from it and Googling : the atlantic june 25, 2012 by joseph vogel ‘gone too soon’, you can read it for yourself. I have heard this song at funerals many times, though I tend to avoid them unless it is absolutely necessary to attend…I decided long ago that I am not attending my own! Thank-you!

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    • And thank YOU for pointing me to that fascinating article! I stopped going to funerals and weddings a long time ago … the last wedding I went to was some 20+ years ago, and I only went to that one because Natasha at age 3, was the flower girl. And, I think the last funeral was that of my father-in-law in 1978.

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    • The Ryan White story was headline news for quite some time over here, but apparently not outside of the U.S. He was a smart kid, and what always struck me was that he never seemed to feel sorry for himself, he just went on with life while he could.

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  2. This is not a record I’ve ever heard but I loved most of Michael Jackson’s work and would certainly have supported this for it’s theme.He was a dedicated supporter of AIDS charities and I feel a kind person.The world has lost much in his passing.
    Cwtch

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    • Musically, this isn’t one of my favourite Michael Jackson pieces, but the meaning, the message, makes it a favourite. I agree … he did more good than harm in this world, though he remains controversial even today, years after he died.
      Cwtch

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  3. Hello Jill. We have come a long way understanding AIDS / HIV. We have come a long way on medical treatment for them enabling people to live pretty normal lives and in many cases the viral load is undetectable. The failing we have is in the bigotry and hatred that Ryan faced as so many in both the past and present continue to have to deal with. The misinformation campaigns using the internet amplifies the voice of the hate groups. It is as if education has not advanced and disinformation has spread even more. The bigotry is even more entrenched. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s much like most everything, from civil rights to women’s rights to LGBTQ rights … we’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long and winding road ahead. And sadly, in the last 3 years, we have been backpedaling. Sigh. Hugs.

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