Sunday, October 14, 2012

Song Spot: Billie Jean



Last night I attended the engagement celebration of Byter Gabrielle. One of the songs played by the DJ (or whatever young people refer to them as these days) was Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. I asked my son and some others if they knew what the lyrics were or what they referred to but the answer was no to both. I said that I would post it in the next Bytes.  

It’s a catchy piece of music but there is a bit more to it . . .

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Lyrics:

She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene
I said, "Don’t mind but what do you mean I am the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round?"
She said "I am the one who will dance on the floor in the round"

She told me her name was Billie Jean
As she caused a scene
Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round

People always told me, "Be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls hearts"
And mother always told me, "Be careful of who you love
And be careful of what you do ‘cause the lie becomes the truth"

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one but the kid is not my son

For forty days and forty nights, law was on her side
But who can stand when she’s in demand, her schemes and plans
‘Cause we danced on the floor in the round

So take my strong advice
Just remember to always think twice
Do think twice, do think twice

She told my baby, we were dancing still three
Then she looked at me, then showed a photo
My baby cried ‘cause his eyes were like mine, oh no
Though we'd dance on the floor in the round, baby

People always told me, "Be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls hearts"
But she came and stood right by me then the smell of sweet perfume
This happened much too soon, she called me to her room

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son

She says I am the one
But the kid is not my son
(repeated)

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Video clip (official video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8FBVyFhLsU

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Billie Jean is from the 1982 Michael Jackson album Thriller and was written and composed by him, as well as being co-produced with Quincy Jones. It was the second of seven US Top 10 hits from the album, The Girl is Mine being released before this.

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Jackson stated a number of times that the song referred to groupies encountered by his brothers and himself whilst he was part of the Jackson 5: 
"Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the '60s. They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers.”

On the Thriller Special Edition CD, Quincy Jones says that he was told by Jackson that the song was about a girl who climbed Jackson’s fence and was found by him lounging beside his pool. She accused him of being the father of oe of her twins, an allegation that amused Jones.

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Jackson biographer J Randy Taraborelli has put forward a different scenario in his book The Magic and the Madness. According to him, Jackson was repeatedly sent letters from a mentally deranged fan who maintained that Jackson was the father of one of her twins. Jackson had never met the woman and ignored the letters but she persisted, telling him that she loved him and that they would be happy raising the child together that she did not know how he could ignore his own son. Jackson became disturbed by the letters and ended up with nightmares. 

The fan then sent a parcel with a letter, a photograph of the fan and a gun. The letter asked Jackson to kill himself on a certain day and that she would do the same after she had killed the baby. She also advised that if they could not be together in this life, they would be together in the next. It was subsequently learned that the fan had been sent to a psychiatric hospital. Jackson bizarrely framed the woman’s photograph and hung it above his dining table.

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In his autobiography Moonwalk Jackson said that Quincy Jones wanted to change the title to Not My Lover because he thought it would be confused with the tennis star Billie Jean King. Jackson refused.

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According to Jackson in Moonwalk:
"A musician knows hit material. It has to feel right. Everything has to feel in place. It fulfils you and it makes you feel good. You know it when you hear it. That's how I felt about 'Billie Jean.' I knew it was going to be big while I was writing it. I was really absorbed in that song. One day during a break in a recording session I was riding down the Ventura Freeway with Nelson Hayes, who was working with me at the time. 'Billie Jean' was going around in my head and that's all I was thinking about. We were getting off the freeway when a kid on a motorcycle pulls up to us and says, 'Your car's on fire.' Suddenly we noticed the smoke and pulled over and the whole bottom of the Rolls-Royce was on fire. That kid probably saved our lives. If the car had exploded, we could have been killed. But I was so absorbed by this tune floating in my head that I didn't even focus on the awful possibilities until later."

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Some achievements of Billie Jean:

· The song is considered revolutionary:

Accompanying a single with a high production video, which in turn helped make Thriller the biggest selling album of all time.

In various polls and awards the song and clip have been referred to as one of the greatest songs of all time, best dance song, best video, favourite song etc

· The film clip for Billie Jean brought MTV, then relatively unknown, to mainstream attention.  

· It was also the first video by a black artist to be aired regularly by the channel. The execs for the channel had previously felt that black music wasn’t “rock” enough.

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