e wasn't all sure that he could make a name for himself on his own. And me, too. I had my doubts," producer Quincy Jones told the French publication Actuel in 1984.
Quincy and Michael had worked together on Sidney Lumet's 1978 film The Wiz, with Michael playing the scarecrow to Diana Ross' Dorothy. Jones and Jackson had met before recording the soundtrack -- Quincy remembers meeting 10-year-old Michael at the house of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Michael recalls first meeting Q at a dinner for Muhammed Ali.
"One day, I called Quincy up to ask if he could suggest some great people who might want to do my album," Michael told Melody Maker in 1980. "It was the first time I fully wrote and produced my songs, and I was looking for somebody who would give me that freedom, plus somebody who's unlimited musically. Quincy calls me 'Smelly,' and said, 'Well, Smelly, why don't you let me do it?' I said, 'That's a great idea!' It sounded phoney, like I was trying to hint to that, but I wasn't. I don't even think of that. But Quincy does jazz, he does movie scores, rock 'n' roll, funk, pop -- he's all colors and that's the kind of people I like to work with. I went over to his house about every other day and we just put it together."
"It" turned out to be Off the Wall, an album that would ultimately sell nine million copies worldwide. The first single pulled from the LP was "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." Debuting at number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated July 28, 1979, the song began a slow chart ascent, losing its bullet at number 73. But it picked up steam and by its 11th week on the chart it was sitting comfortably on top.
Michael discussed the genesis of the song with Dick Clark on "The National Music Survey." "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough' was written at home. I just came up with the melody. It's about forces and the power of love. Walking around the house, I started singing it and kept singing it. I went into a 24-track studio we have at home. I told (younger brother) Randy what to play on the piano. I did percussion and piano, and when I played it for Quincy, he loved it."
The references to "forces and the power of love" can be traced to Michael's allegiance to Jehovah's Witnesses, his mother's faith. Michael discussed his belief that he has been blessed with musical talents by God in a 1983 Newsweek interview. "The thing that touches me is very special. It's a message I have to tell. I start crying and the pain is wonderful. It's amazing. It's like God."
Michael talked about the divine inspiration in his songwriting in Rolling Stone. "I wake up from dreams and go, 'Wow, put this down on paper.' The whole thing is strange. You hear the words, everything is right there in front of your face. And you say to yourself, 'I'm sorry, I just didn't write this. It's there already.' And that's why I hate to take credit for the songs I've written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it's been done and I'm just a courier bringing it into the world."
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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