There is a legend that says: “Once in your lifetime something happens and changes your whole life forever. After this turning point your life will never be the same.”
We know that legend to be true!
From the Fans:
“Michael Jackson wrote the soundtrack of our lives. When we were in the “room”, we could feel him. He seeded in us grains to use in our lives. He set masses of us on fire. You can never get enough of him. He emitted a bright light, magical without being dependent on conjuring tricks. He stirred up our passion just like someone shaking a bottle of champagne.”
“An artist should let his style evolve naturally, spontaneously. You can’t think about these things. You have to feel your way into them.”
Michael Jackson’s language of love embraced human emotion. He believed that you should be able to move people with only sound. “Michael tended to deeply internalize the suffering and injustice experienced by others. Many of these experiences and emotions surfaced in his work, though often in subtle or metaphorical ways.”(J. Vogel). Michael was keenly attuned to real-world issues tackling neglect, abuse, exploitation, prejudice and much, much more. Michael wrote about the sensual. His voice and body were undeniably sexy. “I sing about things that are loving, and if people interpret it as sexy, that’s up to them. I let the music tell me what to do.” (Michael Jackson) Although Michael didn’t see his work as sexy, his sensual appeal is legend. In his book, MAN IN THE MUSIC, J. Vogel colorfully writes: “Michael’s sexual dynamism irradiating from the arch of his dancing body, challenges government standards for a nuclear meltdown!” I would agree with that! Michael wrote in his autobiography, MOONWALK, that he loved the interaction between the sexes. “It is a natural part of life and I love women.”
There are those who have been gifted the talent of songwriting, those whose vocals capture our hearts, those whose talents lie in producing, arranging, composing. Others dance to perfection, some perform all over the world. There are poets who stir us with their words, storytellers who inspire. Many have what we call charisma. I know of only one person in my lifetime that embraces all of these wonderful characteristics…the man who fulfills the legend for me, and for masses of people on every continent. Simply put, there is a hugeness, a depth that has no parallel, no peer. The phenomenon of Michael Jackson is rooted in love. It is a love that has experienced great pain. It is a love that understands the ecstasy, and the depths of the human condition. Michael Jackson has everything required to give to us LOVE IN MANY FORMS.
“HOLDING ONTO LOVE IS NOT WRONG, BUT YOU NEED TO LEARN TO HOLD IT LIGHTLY, CARESSINGLY. LET IT FLY WHEN IT WANTS. WHEN IT’S ALLOWED TO BE FREE, LOVE IS WHAT MAKES LIFE ALIVE, JOYFUL AND NEW. IT’S THE JUICE AND ENERGY THAT MOTIVATES MY MUSIC, MY DANCING, EVERYTHING. AS LONG AS LOVE IS IN MY HEART, IT’S EVERYWHERE.”
DANCING THE DREAM
The Artist: 1987 Ebony Interview (When you want to know Michael Jackson, ASK HIM!)
FIRST LOVE: “Love Never Felt So Good” The joy of listening to a demo lies in wonderment. Michael is experimenting, playing with vocals, lyrics, dancing, fingers snapping, hands clapping as only those huge hands can…a “raggedy” experience infused with smiles that come right through the vocals. “Michael sounds incredible on this track just like he always does. There was never a day when he was anything other than great. He is immortal. And the song is great.” XSCAPE There is an innocence about the song that reminds us of that first young love.
“What I do when I write is that I’ll do a raggedy, rough version just to hear the chorus, just to see how much I like the chorus. If it works for me that way when it’s raggedy, then I know it’ll work.” Michael Jackson Ebony Interview 2007
BETRAYAL: “Chicago” (a Michael Jackson duet) From the opening notes of the musical score, this demo sensually seeps into sexuality we dare not speak about. Michael begins by sharing a story of an unexpected passionate encounter with a woman he meets on the way to Chicago. His voice paints intimacy. The song becomes a duet when anger overtakes the betrayed lover who discovers deception. Orchestration and Michael repeat the underlying sensuality of the love story while gritty and aggressive vocals unleash a torrent of pain and shame, once again laying claim to a voice that can brilliantly conjure emotional extremes. The listener feels the love-making AND the anger.
YOUNG LOVE: “The Way You Make Me Feel” (short film) Rolling Stone described the song as, “four and a half minutes of unadulterated bliss.” Bruce Swedien remembered Michael dancing in the studio as he recorded the song. Rather than take out the sounds of the stomping, spinning, finger snapping and beatboxing, Michael decided to leave it in as part of the overall sonic picture. Bruce said he would hate to record Michael with what he called a clinical approach because his earthy charm would be lost. It is playful and flirtatious with heartfelt affection. The nine minute short film is set in a smoky urban neighborhood street, providing a sultry setting for Michael’s exaggerated sexual advances made with bravado. The short film brilliantly uses lighting, shadows and textures to establish mood and atmosphere. The silhouetted dance ending is the short film’s masterpiece and created an iconic and memorable dance sequence which Michael performed at the 1989 Grammys and around the world on his Bad and Dangerous and History World Tours. Both song and short film are among Michael Jackson classics.
FORBIDDEN LOVE: “Dirty Diana” (short film) “I love DIRTY DIANA. It’s a story about a ‘groupie’…I hate to say the word ‘groupie’, but that’s what it is.” (taken from Michael’s Ebony Interview in 1987). Michael said he and others had experienced groupies while on the road touring. “Michael executes the internal conflict of temptation to perfection, capturing the frustration, guilt, excitement, anger and pain of an affair. The song’s sexuality is by far his most explicit to date; yet like all of Jackson’s best songwriting about relationships, the story is subtle and suggestive enough to remain open to interpretation.” ( MAN IN THE MUSIC) Body as Canvas is brought to perfection both in the short film and in Michael’s stage performances of “Dirty Diana”. Take away the music and the vocals and watch only the dance. The story is all there. ICONIC!
COURTSHIP: “In the Closet” (short film) Seduction at its finest! The sexual tension is palpable in this song, the lyrics and vocals feature a fluid, thumping beat and sensual entreaties of the mystery girl (performed by Princess Stephanie of Monaco). Sonically, it offers elegant piano, strings and all kinds of percussive sounds: glass breaking, doors slamming, fingers snapping, a variety of industrial noises and Michael’s voice of groans and grunts conveying sensuality. There is a persistent gyrating beat using a variety of drum machines Michael came up with. The short film is set on a balmy, deserted ranch in California capturing every ounce of the song’s elegance, passion and sexual tension. It shows off Michael’s extraordinary ability as a dancer, closing with a riveting series of moves in silhouette in the space of a doorway. The memorable imagery, energy and dancing make the short film as classic as is the song. (J. Vogel)
LOVE LOST: “The Black Panther Coda” For me, this is the finest dancing I have ever seen in my lifetime. This is Michael’s most controversial short film and his first to be censored. It is a brilliant percussive dance routine done to Michael’s internal rhythms with no music. It is the very description of BODY AS CANVAS dealing with the uncomfortable subjects of racism, prejudice, bigotry and sexuality. Michael’s approach is primal taking on animal characteristics to show his frustration with discrimination. Wearable Art plays a part in the short film’s impact…black and white. Of course, this coda followed the short film “Black or White”. The climax comes in the form of smashing windows containing racial slurs and crying out in pain while tearing away his shirt. The climax shows Michael spinning like a tornado before dropping to his knees in a puddle of water, wailing in agony and then slipping away as the black panther. The final frame says: PREJUDICE IS IGNORANCE.
“I wanted to do a dance number where I could let out my frustration about injustice and prejudice and racism and bigotry…and within the dance, I let go.” Michael Jackson.
“The short film is the most significant personal gesture any American artist has made in years. He’s already charmed the world, “Black or White (Panther Coda) shows he has the courage to shake it up.” Armond White
LOVE FOR CHILDREN: “Speechless” (The Invincible Album) Michael’s talents of songwriting, arranging and producing, along with his legendary vocals give “Speechless” its full measure of Michael Love. MAN IN THE MUSIC aptley describes the climax of the song reaching a spiritual transcendence that is uncommon to pop music. “He wanted it to be this kind of ecstasy,” Brad Buxer recalls. Michael said, ‘I want you to play these arpeggios.’ When the modulations start coming, you hear all this arpeggiating on the keyboard. It’s not sequenced, it’s all playing. That’s what Michael wanted. Michael’s received his creative inspiration from the natural world, from animals, from CHILDREN and from PLAY. While staying in Germany, Michael recalled playing with children when the inspiration for “Speechless” came. “They are these two sweet little kids, a girl and a boy, and they’re so innocent. They’re in the quintessential form of innocence, and just being in their presence I felt completely speechless, ’cause I felt I was looking into the face of God whenever I saw them. They inspired me to write the song. It is a LOVE song about pure love, unconditional, an innocence within. Having three children of his own, Michael would feel that kind of love each morning when he arose to greet his world.
LOVE’S ENDING: “Don’t Walk Away” (The Invincible Album 2001) Now we come to love’s gripping pain…when all is finished and nothing can be done but to face the ending. There is a sophistication and maturity in the lyrics. Michael said about songwriting, “YOU HAVE TO HAVE THAT TRAGEDY, THAT PAIN TO PULL FROM.” The song tells of heartbreak in a way that brings the listener inside the pain, profoundly and completely. The lyrics and Michael’s vocals capture the anguish in his soul. “Michael will never lose the quality that separates the merely sentimental from the truly heartfelt. It’s rooted in the blues, and no matter what genre Michael is singing, that boy’s got the blues!” Motown Legend Marvin Gaye It isn’t possible to listen to “Don’t Walk Away” and not be shaken to your core.
COLLECTIVE LOVE: “Cry” (The Invincible Album 2001) Released after 9/11, “Cry” revisited Michael’s tireless attempts to awaken a world, looking both backward and forward in its vision. Michael’s voice, and his use of choir, a community representing the power of the people, sing of people barely holding on, of pain without end, truths hidden, the pretending that tragedy doesn’t exist. Michael’s music faces LOVE AND THE LACK OF LOVE head on, using confrontation and asking for a COLLECTIVE LOVE to make the changes needed for the planet to survive. Michael believed in communication and his vehicle for that dialog was his music…powerful and thought-provoking. He ends the piece with the words, “CHANGE THE WORLD!” The listener is summoned to join in efforts of love to make the world better. IS THAT NOT THE GREATEST FORM OF LOVE THERE IS?
(Michael was the only artist I know who created short films in which he was not seen…the message being more important. “Cry” was one of those films.)
Setting aside the unparalleled talent, the unequaled creativity, the tireless work ethic, the vision and pioneering, Michael Jackson’s body of work offers LIFE LESSONS for humankind. Here, we have explored a PORTION of the work. It is a huge mistake to stop at the Thriller Era when studying Michael Jackson. Each of the eight ERAS have wealth and teachings that apply to all mankind.
“LOVE! LOVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!”
Michael Jackson THIS IS IT