Michael Jackson: A Soul Made Of Music

Written by on November 27, 2018

“…I love entertaining and I always will love entertaining. I love becoming a slave to rhythm. Because dancing is about interpreting the sounds and accompaniments of the orchestra. You know, you become the sound, you become the bass, you become whatever you hear, and you do it bodily.”

  • Michael Jack in an interview with Gold Magazine in 2002.


A lover of music and rhythm, a child prodigy, a young man that revolutionized on his way to star, stablished legend and a symbol of what an entrepreneur and a musician truly can be.

Michael Jackson was all of this and a lot more during his time in this world and has grown to a status of omnipresence in the music business that is going to be everlasting–such is the nature when you reach the level of his and has enough accolades to which any other career pales in comparison.

But here we are not going to see the idol, the musical monolith–we are here to see the man that loved music and loved the rhythm. To see behind the entertainer’s stage presence and what was being held in his mind and in his heart when it came to music.

Because every legend was once someone listening music in his room, dreaming to shoot for the stars. Today we are going to look into that side of Michael Jackson’s career.

Music above all.

“People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It’s like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its song. So I stay in the moment and listen. What I hear is never the same. A walk through the woods brings a light, crackling song: Leaves rustle in the wind, birds chatter and squirrels scold, twigs crunch underfoot and the beat of my heart holds it all together. When you join the flow, the music is inside and outside, and both are the same. As long as I can listen to the moment, I’ll always have music.”

  • In his book Dancing the Dream

In the world of Literature there is a term called “instinctive writing”; its basis is that an author develops the story as he or she writes it, without no previous concessions or planning, and just stablishing the characters, the plots, the message and any other kind of ideas as he or she goes along. It is a style of composition that focuses on transmitting their stories in a much more natural manner, without overcomplicating its content.

If we had to extrapolate this to the world of music, this was Michael Jackson’s writing process; he was a firm believer in intuition and perceiving music as a moment of enjoyment and entertainment. While he dabbled in several music styles, this was certainly an approach that did wonders for him in his biggest Pop hits because of that perfect balance of catchiness, musical quality and overall transparency–what you saw and heard of him was what he was.

Michael was someone of deep religious beliefs and always thought of his compositions as something reminiscent to a gift from a God–while that might seem as abstract or perhaps lacking a proper explanation of how he composed, it’s actually a pretty good statement about how he perceived music as something natural and as an extension of himself. “Writing a song is like standing under a tree and trying to catch a leaf. Everything comes as a package. It’s the most wonderful, most spiritual thing …,” he said on an interview in 1993.

Music as a message.

“I just 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 became upset and let go.”

  • About his 1991 video of Black or White.

One element that is not very common in the history of Pop music –and something that is even less common in this era of fabricated and plastic Pop idols- is offering social and political content; this is a music genre that is often more related to lyrical subjects of romance, having a good time or themes of a similar ilk. So when Michael Jackson released Dangerous in the early 90s, it was a major departure from what he had done until that point of his career (counting both the Jackson Five and his solo career), made a big impact on the Pop landscape and shifted Michael’s lyrical topics, getting more and more political as time went on.

It is also worth reminding that this was the time when his skin got whiter due to the vitiligo and the many plastic surgeries he had endured, often having an effect of shame on his psyche and that is part of makes the Dangerous one of his most fascinating works and one that allows us to dwell on the juxtaposition that his new skin color and African-American heritage was–as far psychological analysis go, this is Michael’s most interesting body of work.

Talking Black or White and his music video can not only be viewed as Michael’s musical love letter to minorities and to everyone who has ever felt different, but also as a way to let go of all that frustration he felt within during the criticism he received due to his skin getting whiter. He always strived to separate the artist from the man, but this album was when both finally collided and made a musical piece that was both unnerving and fascinating to analyze.

Later on, he would be even more upfront with his political and social perceptions in the powerful They Don’t Care About Us, being as straightforward with his message as he could possibly be. This, of course, was a grand success and one of his finest tunes of his later years, being an example of how the artist and the entertainer, through it all the ordeals and all the trouble surrounding his personal life, could stay remain intact and relevant.

Music as escapism.

“Who wants mortality? Everybody wants immortality. You want what you create to live! Be it sculping, painting, music, composition. That is why to escape death I attempt to bind my soul to my work because I just want it to live forever and just give all that I have.”

  • His views on art and outliving his existence.

An aspect that is often ignored when it comes to musicians of Michael’s stature (and this can apply to writers, painters, athletes and any other individual who has achieved a tremendous level of excellence on his or her field of choice) is the fact that they are often their own harshest critics. Michael, much like his friend Freddie Mercury, was arrogant when it came to his music–he wanted to be the best and he knew he could be the best. This is why he was always a perfectionist, constantly striving to make the most out of every composition and album, trying to achieve a higher plateau.

The youngest member of a family of successful musicians, he was always pushing and trying, focusing all his energy to make each song better than the previous one while still maintaining a level of innocence and improvisation to the creative process. He was of the belief that his music was the one thing that was always going to outlast and that is a common thread throughout his career, regardless of the point in which you started listening to his albums: he was always focused on making the best possible music.

Despite that his personal life was riddled with demons, he was someone he made music worth of the highest angels and one that has managed to live on throughout the years.

A great soul of music.

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