Friday, September 18, 2009

Michael + Quincy = Magic

Quincy Jones found the experience working on "The Wiz" difficult, because he didn't feel the public would accept a black version of "The Wizard of Oz." But,"Out of that mess came my association with Michael Jackson."
Michael and Quincy's relationship jelled from the beginning because Quincy gave the artists only the best songs and musicians to work with, and then let them do as they please. Michael was so happy to work in this capacity because he always felt held back from creating the kind of music he envisioned. Quincy admitted that he wasn't sure if Michael could deliver because he found Michael to be "very, very introverted, shy, and unassertive. He wasn't at all sure that he could make a name for himself on his own. Neither was I."
However, before long, Quincy found Michael to be quite versatile. "He can come to a session and put down two lead vocals and three background parts in one day," he said at the time. "He does his homework, rehearses and works hard at home. Most singers want to do everything in the studio- write words and music, figure out harmonies, try different approaches to a song.That makes me crazy. All I can see is dollar signs going up. Studio time is enormously expensive, and that's why someone like Michael Jackson is a producer's dream artist.He walks in prepared, We accomplish so much in a single session, it stuns me. In my opinion, Michael Jackson is going to be the star of the eighties and nineties."
Their relationship extended outside the studio. In Quincy, Michael would confide in Quincy the way he should have with his father, and also take direction willingly.Michael also learned about the quality of a song. Quincy always was looking for the best songs, and if he found some that were better, he would use those instead. Though Michael submitted his own songs and some were dismissed, the end result justified the frustration of losing songs in the project.
The final product was the album Off the Wall, which was released in August 1979. The public and critics were amazed at the craftsmanship and care to deliver the finest performance that Michael could give. Engineer Bruce Swedien mixed Quincy's tracks with Michael "new" adult voice in a way that fans could fully appreciate the album's sophisticated style.
The album was successful, with "Rock With You" reaching number one, and both "Off the Wall" and "She's Out of My Life" reaching number ten. The album itself sold a mind-blowing six million copies, impressive even today for a first album.
However, Michael was disappointed, especially after winning only one Grammy Award. "It bothered me. I cried a lot." he said. "My family thought I was going crazy, because I was weeping so much about it."
But, he vowed, "You watch. The next album I do, you watch...I'll show them."

Thank you, J.Randy Taraborrelli, Michael Jackson - The Magic and the Madness" pages 230-233.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

No Wonder, He IS Like A Kid !!

Michael had an interview with J.Randy Taraborrelli on August 22, 1978, at the Jackson's estate. The comments and actions seem to show the stunted growth of Michael socially, and educationally. One would start to think that they were conversing with a fourteen-year-old rather than a twenty-year-old. He wore a Jaws t-shirt, black jeans, safari hat, and bare feet. He was very thin, and spoke with a falsetto whisper. He had to be reminded by his mother to offer his guests something to drink. She was bothered that she found it difficult to get him to eat. But she did reveal that his favorite foods were hot apple turnovers and sweet- potato pies.
Michael seemed to be uninformed about the current events at the time, which showed the isolation he had from the world. "I don't know much about politics," Michael admitted. "Nothing , I guess. Someone told me recently that Gerald Ford was president. I remember when he was vice-president. But president? That I missed." He laughed at that, but he was serious.
Taraborrelli asked, "How do you keep up with current events? Do you read newspapers? Watch T.V.?"
"I watch cartoons, I love cartoons," he said as his eyes lit up. "I love Disney so much. The Magic Kingdom. Disneyland. It's such a magical place. Walt Disney was a dreamer,like me. And he made his dreams come true, like me. I hope."
He said that he did not read newspapers. "See, I like show business. I listen to music all the time. I watch old movies. Fred Astaire movies. Gene Kelly, I love. And Sammy [Davis]. I can watch these guys all day., twenty-four hours a day. That's what I love the most. Show business, you know?"
He finds that his biggest challenge professionally is to live up to his father's expectations. But, his professional and personal challenges are the same because,"I just want to entertain."
He expressed that he really didn't have any friends to confide in. However, it was clear that he did have a crush on one person in particular. Miss. Diana Ross. "...I can tell my deepest, darkest secrets to [her] because I know she won't tell anyone, not another living soul." Whether that was true or not, anyone who has had a crush on someone knows fantasy can be a replacement for reality.
When joined by his brothers, Michael talked about the strange incidents that have occurred on the property. Girls getting cut just to get a glimpse of the superstars , fans jumping over the gate and coming into the house. One did this and sat down in the den, where the the brothers found her, and said that God had sent her.
Once an entire family got into the house and took a tour of the house. Helping themselves to looking at their private things.
But then the interview took a turn to becoming uncomfortable for Michael, when nicknames came up.
"Mike has a nickname, Jackie mentioned. "It's a real good one."
"Don't, Jackie, " Michael warned.
"We call him....Big Nose!" The brothers all laughed, uncaring that Michael was embarrassed.
"Yeah, Big Nose," Marlon repeated. "What's happenin', Big Nose?" Michael seemed to curl up inside and hardly said anything for the rest of the afternoon.
But the brothers weren't the only family members clueless about the devastating effect that name calling does to a person. Joseph was just as brutal, though he didn't , on this occasion , say it to Michael to his face.
"Marlon told me about what happened. You're not gonna write about Michael's nickname, are you?" he asked. "He doesn't like that nickname they gave him. Liver Lips."
"Liver Lips? They told me his nickname is Big Nose," Taraborreli replied. He said he didn't know how he was going to handle the situation.
"Oh, yeah," Joe said "That boy's so sensitive about his nose. Do you see anything wrong with his nose?"
"No., not at all."
"Me neither," Joe said. "But that's all he ever talks about. His damn nose. Threatened to have it fixed. What can he do with it? I told I'd break his face if he ever had it fixed." he laughed. "You don't fix something that ain't broke. He's got a great nose. It looks like mine."
Michael summed up his life later with these revealing words. He was talking about his character the Scarecrow in The Wiz.
"What I like about my character is his, I guess you can call it, his confusion. He knows he has these, uh, these problems, I guess you can call them. But he doesn't exactly know why he has them or how he got that way. And he understands that he see things differently from the way everyone else does., but he can't put his finger on why. He's not like other people. No one understands him. So he goes through his whole life with this, uh..." he paused, "confusion."
"Everybody thinks he's very special," he concluded thoughtfully. "But, really, he's very sad, He's so so sad. Do you understand? He asked urgently, "Do you understand his sadness?"
Thank you, J.Randy Taraborrelli - "Michael Jackson -The Magic and the Madness" pages 215-222.