Making HIStory

1998 -Interview of Michael Jackson by Adrian Grant

ADRIAN~ You have travelled to many countries all over the world. Can you tell me about your admiration for Brazil, and the experience that you had while filming the video They Don’t Really Care About Us?                                                                                             MICHAEL ~ I love the Brazilian people, I feel for them in the same way that I feel for the Indians and Africans. There’s a lot of poverty in Brazil, and I remember going there for the first time kind of left my heart…(you know there’s bits of my heart in different countries around the world in which I travel)…and I have a lot of heart for those people. Have you ever been to Brazil?

ADRIAN ~ No, I haven’t, but I hope to one day, especially for the carnival!           MICHAEL ~ It’s amazing. The people are so sweet, and they were so happy to see me. You know they were so overwhelmed with excitement, and I was happy to be there for them. I wish I could do more – I just feel so bad that I don’t do enough, I really do.

ADRIAN ~ Why did you choose Spike Lee to direct that video?                              MICHAEL ~ They Don’t Really Care About Us has an edge, and Spike Lee had approached me. It’s a public awareness song, and that’s what he is all about. It’s a protest kind of song – it’s not a racist song, it’s an anti-racist song and I thought he was perfect for it.

ADRIAN ~ You wrote a song called Money. Having been a millionaire since you were a boy, how important is money for you?                                                                           MICHAEL ~ I guess it gets things done…to fulfil some dreams you need to have financial backing. However I think everything starts with a thought, like if you plant a seed which then cultivates itself, everything comes out of that. I never really thought about it when I was little. I always felt that I was compelled to do the things I did, I really did.

ADRIAN ~ Do you find it difficult to relate to the needs and the pain of the suffering when you seemingly have everything you could desire?                                            MICHAEL ~ No, No, not at all. Being a world traveller I’m touched and moved by everything that happens, especially to children. It gets me emotionally sick, and I go through a lot of pain when I see that type of thing. I can’t pretend as if I don’t see it. It affects me very much. For some reason there’s a certain part of my concert where I break down in every show and in that spot I get a certain thought – I think of the plight of the children and it gets me everytime. I don’t know why in that place, it’s during I’ll Be There, the thoughts just come to me and I try hard to contain myself.

ADRIAN ~ What is your favorite song on the HIStory album and why?
MICHAEL ~ My favorite songs are Earth Song, Childhood and You Are Not Alone because I like songs with emotions and a message, and a sense of immortality. I like there to be some depth in the lyrics as well as a melodic simpleness that the whole world can sing them. That was my goal to capture that on those songs and I think I came pretty close. Whenever we went on a tour, people just loved them, I was pleased to have done that.

ADRIAN ~ Would you say there is a concurrent theme running throughout the HIStory album?
MICHAEL ~ It’s about people looking at their lives and taking any seconds of their well being and making something of yourself – creating a legacy so you can look back and look at what you have done. I always wanted that, that’s why I like working very hard.

ADRIAN ~ How did your collaboration with R. Kelly on You Are Not Alone arise?
MICHAEL ~ R. Kelly sent me this tape of the song and I liked what I heard. It had no harmonies and it had no modulations so I told him he wrote a great song is it OK if I just go in and do what I think this song should have. He said ‘sure’, so I went in and produced it. I put a choir in the end and did a great modulation so the song had a sense of climax and structure.

ADRIAN ~ Why did you include your cover of the Beatles song Come Together on the HIStory album?
MICHAEL ~ I was coming home from church and my engineer was fooling around with that song, which I hadn’t asked him to do, but when I heard it I said ‘WOW! This is my favorite Beatles song.’ So I just went in and in one take started singing it. We kept it kinda raw and funky. It was just spontaneous, but I knew I wanted to do something with it.

ADRIAN ~ You broke many records during your successful ‘HIStory Tour’, is it hard to get motivated for each show, after more than 30 years of performing?
MICHAEL ~ I usually come to the show not feeling like I really want to do it because of being over-worked, but once I get there I feel the spirit of the entire audience before I even get on stage. And then the magic takes place – no matter how you feel, even dead sick and weary – suddenly you just go out and do it. The energy comes out of nowhere, it’s like the Gods are blessing you.

ADRIAN ~ What personal satisfaction did you gain from the tour?
MICHAEL ~ Seeing all the races together, which I love so much. All the colors in the audience loving one another, getting on with each other and enjoying the music – a unified field !

ADRIAN ~ Would you say that your music is now written from a more personal viewpoint, compared to the pure disco of your earlier material?
MICHAEL ~ I never categorise the music ’cause I never sit down and say I’m gonna write a disco song, or pop or rock or…. I just kind of write according to the emotion, according to what I’m going through in the moment, I get caught up in the moment wherever the moment is, wherever the emotion is. I create out of that and I almost feel guilty of putting my name on the songs that I write because they are from another source. I’m just a funnel through which they come, I really do believe that. They are from above. They choose me I don’t choose them.

ADRIAN ~ Blood On The Dance Floor is a very striking title. Is the song about Aids?
MICHAEL ~ No it isn’t, not at all. Actually I didn’t create the title, my engineer (Teddy Riley) thought of the title, which I thought was cool, so I wrote the song around the title. And then I made a mistake, and I apologised, but they didn’t show it on TV. When I was in England – I hid in England at some time (1993), and Elton John let me use his house. He was so sweet and kind, and I thought I never thanked him. So I decided to dedicate a song to him, and that song was Blood On The Dance Floor. But after it came out I said ‘why did I dedicate that one of all the songs, it could have been You AreNot Alone,  etc…’ So I always thought that I wanted to apologise to him for that – it was just out of him being kind. He’s a wonderful person.

ADRIAN ~ Do you feel a connection with the late Princess Diana, given that many of your songs on the HIStory album talk about your personal torment and persecution from others?
MICHAEL ~ Yes I do, very much. I think I understood her. In the moments that we had, that were very intimate and personal, we talked on such subjects. I think it’s a tragic, tragic loss. I feel that people like myself and other artists should carry the torch of what her mission was and I think I have that understanding – It’s what I do, and am willing to do. I thought she was brilliant.

ADRIAN ~ Do you feel that the song Tabloid Junkie highlights at all the tragic circumstances in which Princess Diana died?
MICHAEL ~ Yes the tabloids are a bunch of trash. I think there should be a way to destroy them. We should create a big burning, like in stadiums around the world – pile them all together ! You remember how they used to do disco records, and just create a burning, to make people aware. It’s such an intrusion. It’s a horrible thing. They hurt you, it’s terrible. It creates such ugliness, they never think about how the person feels about what they write.

ADRIAN ~ When and how did the idea for the short film, Ghosts, arise?
MICHAEL ~ It started with the Addam’s Family, they wanted a theme song (Is It Scary) for their films and I didn’t want to do it. So eventually we got out of it. So I ended up making a short film. I love films, I love movies, and that’s why my next mission is to make films. That’s what I want the next chapter in my life to be – movies and records. There’s no other place to go. I’ll do films, do records and direct. I’ll also do complete directing myself, ’cause I love it very much.

ADRIAN ~ What type of films would you see yourself in ?
MICHAEL ~ Everything, not just musical stuff but drama, pathos – I love it.

ADRIAN ~ Which people and events in world history have played a significant part in your own life and why?
MICHAEL ~ I would say John F. Kennedy, because that smacks of my generation when I was little. I think he was America’s greatest President. I saw some of the civil rights movement on television but I never experienced it personally, but that affected everybody.

ADRIAN ~ Throughout your career you have constantly taken your art form to another level. How do you see you live performances taking place in the future?
MICHAEL ~ I don’t wanna do any more live shows (World Tours), I don’t think I will ! I wanna spend the rest of my life doing records and films. I’ll do some special shows here and there. You know I’ve been doing it since I was five, I don’t know if I wanna do it anymore – but I do love it very much. I wanna create for the next 100 years, and that’s film work.

ADRIAN ~ How would you like history to portray Michael Jackson?
MICHAEL ~ I think as someone who has been given the ability and talent to do what I do, to heighten the awareness of peace and love, and the plight of children worldwide on to a universal level. It’s been created through song, dance and film – I guess that’s my mission, and I’m happy to have been chosen.

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4 Responses to Making HIStory

  1. cawobeth3 says:

    hee, hee… The Adams family. That was my favorite TV show. I didn’t know that it sparked “Ghosts”. Neat.

    “I’m just a funnel through which they come, I really do believe that. They are from above. They choose me I don’t choose them.” This is my favorite part. This expresses a true artist to me.

    I’m curious when this interview took place. I can hardly believe that History Book I was released 15 yrs. ago. because many of these songs ring true for today. One can see & hear the visionary Michael. Much of this album is also timeless; it rings true for the past, present and future.

    ” I wish I could do more – I just feel so bad that I don’t do enough, I really do. ” Imagine ?
    Geez… if 1/2 the world did 1/2 as much for others as Michael, what a better world it would be.

    Thank you so much for posting this ! I love you.

    Like

  2. LasTear says:

    *Jumping up and down* I have that book and I loved it so much that it is very well ‘thumbed’.

    Like

  3. Thank you. Beautiful interview!

    Like

  4. SGAA says:

    This is a wonderful book, Adrian Grant was a huge fan of MJ’s and a friend of his for over 21 years. In 1988 he created and managed “Off the Wall” – an officially approved Michel Jackson fan magazine. This book was one of the first that wrote about Michael in a positive light. He created “Thriller-Live” a musical that is now played in over 20 countries and also wrote a book called Michael Jackson “The Visual Documentary”. Thank you for sharing this fantastic interview. It’s beautiful.

    Like

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