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MJ Files : We Are The World - The Story Behind The Song

Posted by MoonDJ on 2007/9/29 1:30:00  News by the same author
MJ Files
Article By MoonDJ
French Version
This article may be reproduced with a credit to and original news link.

"There comes a time, when we heed a certain call".
The song We Are The World starts with those lyrics that still resonate as a humanitarian and artistic miracle.

This file is tracing back the history of a dream come true, the day when the greatest artists got their acts together to put an end to world hunger.

We, the little pudgy westerners, are not really much interested by those in need; and yet the world has screamed its hunger and begged for lesser thirst for so long. There is a general consensus where giving charity is only a means of helping one’s self. However, a Michael Jackson website cannot claim its authenticity if it is not a vehicle for one of Michael’s own preached values.

There are few songs where Michael does not denounce an injustice or is not revolted by human foolishness. "Another Part Of Me" actually started his fight and "Man In The Mirror" affirmed it in Bad. Dangerous sounded the alarm with "Why You Wanna Trip On Me", "Black Or White" and "Heal The World"; and what can possibly be said about this suffering-turned-to-rage in such songs as "Scream", "Earth Song" etcetera? If we have to only quote them, it wouldn't have been explicit enough; for “We Are The World” exists and carries many artists who will transmit this universal message of love on this famous day of January 28th, 1985.

Lawyer and activist, Ken Kragen, was instrumental in this project and this was no first-time initiative for him, while Michael Jackson has also been delivering a humanitarian message for many years now even though the media pretends to ignore its universal impact. They would rather talk about the failing ‘comeback’ of the 2006 World Music Awards than the fact that the song is still played as a hymn and is sung at similar gathering events even 20 years later. In short, it is not the real deal, for we are today reaching for something clever, in which the solar system has not found its place yet... apart from this blessed evening when Harry Belafonte followed the example given by the Anglo-Saxons. One year ago, the English band 'Band Aid', partially created by Bob Geldof, has gathered several stars together to perform the song titled "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in a charity goal: Phil Collins, Paul Young, Bono, George Michael, Sting, David Bowie and Boy George were just some among others to be part of the project.

The idea landed on Quincy Jones’s desk and his first initiative was to propose this project to Michael Jackson who seemingly had expressed his desire to get more invested in the charity field and wanted to make use of his gift for composition to spread the message and help gather funds. “We Are The World” was written in the spirit of Michael's genius, which held all the pity and mercy in the few notes that comprise the chorus and the whole melody

By his side, Lionel Richie is the man in vogue at that time, rewarded on so many occasions and after a succession of singles such as "All Night Long", "Hello" and "Say You, Say Me" in less then 3 years, he represented the safe artistic value that Quincy Jones wanted to put beside Michael to help construct a homogeneous band. Indeed Lionel is a lot less shy then Michael and Quincy needed this decision-making alter ego to rework the texts, to allocate the duets and to manage the good development of the vocal weaving.

The recording sessions took place after the night of the World Music Awards presentations and thus centralized the planning of all the stars taking part in the project. The main theme was to ensure a voluntary and engaged participation where everyone would make the necessary effort without trying to top one another; no competition, only solidarity. The aims were defined during an integrated recording session in order not to lose the main emotional thread and to thus channel the artistic aura that should give life and soul to the song.

Directing more than forty performers could only be the work of a genius who is more than many times applauded on our website. Quincy Jones is a maestro who loves challenges. He elaborates his battlefield with several series of recordings, trials and live arrangements while keeping in mind the artistic capacities, the needs and the abilities of each artist.

It took less than six hours to achieve this exploit, knowing that each artist had received Michael's demo tape with little time beforehand and no real preliminary step had been organized. This is the reason why the best singers of the time were present and why this single had such an impact on the collective conscious.

Michael, reserved, ultra poised and confident, stood all along to the left of the maestro, Quincy, and to the right of his friend Lionel, staying available if needed... for the reference here is MJ and very often, on this giant of a night, most of the doubts and the vocal/melodic questions will be resolved by him while the superstar artists and performers will follow his essential gift as an example.

“We Are The Word” would not have been what it is without the unique implication of certain prestigious artists. They are undoubtedly some big names but we do not reach the summit of the Pantheon without having a shred of genius.

With Stevie Wonder it is the whole of Motown that came to support the melody of his legendary vocal modulations... Stevie is improvisational, providing us the assurance of a unique, groovy Soul energy and his formidable ability of adaptation, whatever the musical style.

Springsteen, the boss who sings one of the King's lines: what a beautiful meeting... what a wonderful example of artistic fusion. With Born In The USA, Bruce became an international superstar. However his strong inner-self stayed pure to being reserved with a touch of shyness for he is Rock's most intimate and sincere face - a throaty voice full of tenderness and human outbursts. “We Are The World” would not have been the same without this man of principle; his vocal passages were tinted and coloured with a truly emotional implication.

Diana Ross is Michael's alter Ego; their friendship is very rare in the music industry. This session pushes us to ask ourselves one question: when will Diana ever sing false-heartedly in her career? This singer is merely incredible, her style is liquid as she creates a crazy enthusiasm for those around her.

If there was ever a truer legend present, then it is Bob Dylan. A veritable precursor and visionary with a career in constant evolution, this session of “We Are The World” does not show the entirety of his veritable talent. The beginning of the eighties for Dylan was his darkest period and he seemed a little distant during that vibed night. He is always high (psychotropic or otherwise), fed by some looks of pity as he pains to enter into the collective vibe. He did not find his mark at first, but we cannot deny that once he set into the music, his passage is memorable and instilled his mystical power in the song.

When Ray Charles gets involved, it is the whole Jazz universe that expresses itself: breaking the rhythm and deconstructing what is still left of the barriers against emotion. And what of James Ingram, Daryl Hall or of the all powerful Huey Lewis? Tina Turner too discrete but full of warm vocals; Cindy Lauper and her youthfulness, her ardor. Paul Simon, Steve Perry or Billy Joel equally contribute their respective talents. A friendly thought is addressed to Al Jarreau, who had a hard time that night understanding where his place lay. His vocal modulations are rather incredible but on “We Are The World” he had to channel his attention at several resurgences.

Next to the individual vocal performances, the presence of certain stars in the choir is only justified in reference to solidarity. A good number of stars had participated that night by contributing, thanks to their reputation, to sensitize the public. Buying albums, on one hand, could equally bring awareness that Africa or other Third World countries desperately need.

As an irony of sorts, beyond the 60 million odd dollars reaped from this masterpiece, what is the point of the sweet and faddish mood of the project if it is not able to change the selfish mindset of the richest countries. In effect, “We Are The World” succeeded in sensitizing the global population: Africa is dying, the children are underweight, the famine and the suffering are evident through our television sets... yes, but fundamentally, what has changed in the last 20 years?

There are even more people on Earth that are missing out on everything, even more diseases immerging and yet even more wars; the people rip themselves apart and are armed by countries like our own because everything is nothing but profit, on the backs of the most poor, the weakest... each day a little more!!

Four Grammy Awards are not enough to house the most needy. Our values need to evolve and our leaders need to change their attitude and foreign policy. Michael Jackson will never be powerful enough by himself to overturn this situation. We thus invite you to re-listen to “We Are The World”. You will become permeated anew by this humanistic fervor and will visit the few links that could maybe start to change things. To each a conscious awakening, a little contribution, in different sectors, we need you in multiple domains. A thought, a prayer or a gift is already something valuable to those in need of it... a helping hand to the organizations to firmly help, onsite, with what the poorest have to get through by themselves... because you have to look at the evidence: government aid thus far is and has been useless..


To help

- FIDH Droits de l’homme
- AMNESTY International
- Action Contre La Faim
- Amis de la terre

We Are The World
The Story Behind The Song
- 20th Anniversary Edition -

>> Buy DVD Zone 2
>> Buy DVD Zone 1

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