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Michael Jackson on Godliness
Interview year: 1980
John was told to ask his questions to Janet Jackson who then asked them to Michael.

Michael Jackson: I hate labels because it should be just music. I don’t see anything wrong with disco. You can’t dance to [imitates guitar thrash sound] or… Call it disco. Call it anything. It’s music. Would you call “She’s Out of My Life” disco? “Off the Wall”, “Rock with You”… I don’t know. It’s music to me. It’s like you hear a bird chirping. You don’t say: “that’s a blue jay. This one is a crow.” It’s a beautiful sound. That’s all that counts. Listen to it. You watch them soar in the skies. It’s just beautiful.

John Pidgeon: Does he work very hard on his dancing?

Janet Jackson: He just…oh, the question. Do you work very hard on your dancing?

Michael Jackson: I should but I don’t. I just… whatever you see me do is spontaneous reactions on stage. It’s nothing planned. It’s nothing that I got in the room and tried to think of hard. It just happens through feeling.

John Pidgeon: Does he actually find it hard to keep from dancing when he’s in the studio?

Janet Jackson: Yeah, I think so.

Michael Jackson: Yeah, that isn’t my problem. I’m just dancing around…

Janet Jackson: Yeah, can’t keep still…

Michael Jackson: Yeah, hard to keep still. Moving around from the mic.

Michael Jackson: My singing it’s just… I’ll just say it simple as possible: it’s just godly. Really it’s just… When I was small I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just sang and it came out sounding pretty good. I just do it and it happens. It’s… I can’t explain it or… It’s no real personal experience or anything that makes it come across. Just a feeling and God, I’ll say. Mainly God.

Michael Jackson: You hear us talk about the peacock a lot because the peacock is the only bird of all the bird family that integrates every color into one. That’s our main goal in music. When you go to our concerts and you see every race out there and they’re all waving hands and they’re holding hands and they’re smiling and dancing. All colors. That’s what great. That’s what keeps me going.

Michael Jackson: I do believe deeply in perfection. I’m never satisfied. I’ll cut a track or something. I come home and I say “no, that’s not right, we gotta to do it over it’s not right.” And then go back and back and back. Then when it’s finally out, you say “darn it, I should have done this.” It’s number one on the charts you’re still screaming about what you should have done. If you’re satisfied with everything you’re just going to stay at one level and the world will move ahead. That’s not good either.

John Pidgeon: When Michael’s in the studio is it important for him to go for a vocal straight away or does he kind of build up to doing the one?

Janet Jackson: When you’re in the studio does it… do you, ah… do you have to go for a vocal straight away or do you have to build up to it?

Michael Jackson: No, I do vocals pretty quick. But for instance “Ben” I did in one take. I went right in and cut it. I said: ”want to do another one?” The guy said: “no, no, it was great.” I said: “was it?” That was at Motown. I’ll never forget that little apple box I stood on because I couldn’t reach the microphone. My name was written on it and it’s sitting at Diana Ross’s house now. She has all my little doodling papers I would draw and write.

Michael Jackson: A lot of people have been overexposed. It’s true. Where people are fed up. I pray that that never happens with me. I just don’t like being on a lot of different things or being everywhere because I get kind of embarrassed. But, I think secretly and privately there is… I mean really deep within there is a destiny for me and just for me to stay on that track and follow it. I really believe and feel I am here for a reason and that’s my job to perform for the people and if they accept it that I am rewarded. If they want to put me up on that pedestal I feel ever better.

John Pidgeon: Was it through ‘The Wiz’ that Michael Jackson got to work with Quincy Jones?

Janet Jackson: Was it to do with ‘The Wiz’ that you got to work with Quincy?

Michael Jackson: Yes. That was… I met Quincy before at Sammy Davis’s house a long time ago. But the real meeting with Quincy, the real marriage, was ‘The Wiz’ project. We really got to know one another. We worked beautifully together. Ah, so well. I called Quincy up one day. I said: “Quincy, I’m ready to do an album, a solo album. But, I want a real good producer to work with me.” I said: “Can you recommend somebody?” I wasn’t trying to hint around at all. I wasn’t. I didn’t think about him. He said: “Smelly.” He calls me ‘Smelly’. He said: “Smelly, why don’t you let me do it?” I said: “Ahhhh…that’s a great idea.” I started giggling and he said: “Why don’t we start?” Next week we got together. We started planning and that’s how “Off the Wall” came about.


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