Michael Jackson is rarely mentioned as a poet. It could be because his other talents – that of a dancer, a vocalist, an entertainer and a composer, – take center stage, but his poems and song lyrics are not often discussed. In his homeland, he is usually not listed among the recognized lyricists, such as Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. Meanwhile, Jackson’s song catalog has profound works that deserve to be analyzed as serious poetry. Among them, such songs as “Be Not Always” from Victory album, “Will You Be There” and “Who Is It” from Dangerous album, “Money” from HIStory album and “Shout” released as the B-side of single Cry. Many of Jackson’s songs are autobiographic.
Jackson’s process of writing song lyrics remains relatively unknown even today. Listening to his demo recordings, we can hear that the lyrics were taking shape gradually. The song theme and chorus usually appeared first, and the verses were formed along the way: while recording the demo, Michael was searching for rhymes, tasting different phrases and scatting through the parts where he hadn’t yet come up with words.
It seems that Michael himself considered lyrics secondary to music – it was music that received the utmost attention, sometimes years and years of crafting and refining. “Michael wrote lyrics at the last minute, on the edge of a table,” remembered his long-time arranger Brad Buxer. ” It was one of his habits. He liked to have the instrumentation of a song completely finished before writing lyrics… For example, Michael wrote the lyrics to ‘Black Or White’ in 20 minutes, in the studio, while we were waiting for him to do the vocal part.”
This section contains lyrics to Michael Jackson’s songs.
Off the Wall (1979)
HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (1995)
Blood On the Dance Floor (1997)