Anything For Money

Joie:  So, Willa, I’m sure you heard the news about the big Jackson family feud a couple of months ago. Unfortunately it was pretty difficult to avoid; every day it seemed there was a new wrinkle and you couldn’t really get away from it. And it just seemed to get uglier and uglier with each passing day as it became clear that the motivating factor was money. Anger and resentment over the terms of Michael Jackson’s will. And, oddly enough, all that has me thinking about the song “Money,” from the HIStory album.

He never made a short film for this particular song and I’ve always thought it’s such a shame because I would have loved to have seen what he could have come up with for it. It’s one of those songs that really makes you think. One that makes you grab the liner notes and hunker down until you’ve deciphered every word he’s saying. And it has some really fascinating lyrics.

Willa:  Wow, Joie!  I can’t even believe you’re going there. That’s not just dancing with elephants – more like dancing with cobras. To be honest, I tried not to get caught up in it but it’s hard not to peek sometimes, and sorting out all those conflicting rumors and accusations and hard feelings just seems like negotiating a snake pit to me. It’s complicated even more by the fact that there are so many different sides to it and it’s all so public, and it was plenty complicated enough to begin with.

Anyway, I’m not sure if the main motivation is money or creative control. I tend to think it’s more about wanting to participate in creative decisions – but of course, his songs and his films and his name are all worth a lot of money, so even that’s not a clear distinction. It just seems really, really complicated to me, and I’m very sorry everything became so heated and so public, and people got their feelings hurt.

But I’d love to talk about “Money,” and you’re right – it is fascinating.

Joie:  Well, I wasn’t trying to step into a snake pit! And I don’t want to ‘go there,’ as you put it, because you’re right. It is like dancing with cobras, and ultimately, it’s really none of our business anyway.

But it does bring to mind that particular song for me and that’s what I want to focus on.

Willa:  I’d love to. And I didn’t mean to be dramatic. I just get really uncomfortable talking about artists’ private lives, though it’s kind of hard to avoid with Michael Jackson because public and private get so tangled up sometimes. Like, I really don’t think we can understand his later work if we don’t know what happened in 1993, but some of that is intensely personal. So how much should be considered public, and how much private? It’s really hard to figure out where to draw that line sometimes. And it’s hard to talk about “Money” without mentioning 1993 also.

Joie:  I agree with you. You can’t talk about “Money” without mentioning the events of 1993. Those allegations are at the heart of the song, I think. “Money” was included on the HIStory album, which was released in 1995, just two years after the extortion attempt and the subsequent allegations that ultimately changed his life. In fact, so many of the songs on that album do cover the events of 1993 because he actually used that album to vent his frustrations about the way he was treated – by Evan Chandler, by the police, by the public and by the media. I believe it’s the most personal, honest album in his entire catalog.

Willa:  I agree – it’s very personal – but in a way that universalizes his emotions. For example, you can feel his anger on “They Don’t Care about Us,” but it draws on the biased police treatment he’s experienced and then extends that anger beyond his own experiences, so it becomes a commentary on many types of injustice. So it feels personal, but with larger social implications as well.

And even though there are some angry, painful songs on this album – and rightfully so considering the experiences he’d been through – there are also some exquisitely beautiful songs, like “Stranger in Moscow,” “Earth Song,” “You Are Not Alone,” and “Smile.” So it seems like he was in a really interesting place when he put the HIStory album together.

Joie:  You know, he was in an interesting place. He had just lived through one of the most difficult periods of his life, his career was in jeopardy, and he had fallen in love and just gotten married. That’s quite a jumble of emotions for anyone to go through in such a short period of time. And he was doing it all in the public eye on top of that so, he had both the media and the public perception to deal with as well. So, you’re right. HIStory is a complex album for all of those reasons. In fact, in his book, Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson, Joe Vogel describes it this way:

“HIStory is Michael Jackson’s most personal album. From the impassioned rage of “Scream” to the pained vulnerability of “Childhood,” the record was, in Jackson’s words, ‘a musical book.’ It encompassed all the turbulent emotions and struggles of the previous few years: it was his journal, his canvas, his rebuttal.”

Willa:  Absolutely, and we can really see that in “Money.” It’s a very strong “rebuttal,” as Joe says, to the 1993 accusations. In fact, it’s a counter-accusation, saying in no uncertain terms that he is innocent and those accusing him – meaning Evan Chandler and Blanca Francia and Tom Sneddon, as well as the tabloids and mainstream press who perpetuated and magnified the hysteria – are the ones who are guilty. And their crimes are “lust, gluttony, and greed.”

Joie:  I agree with you completely, Willa. The song opens with an ominous, almost sinister chant from Michael proclaiming all the horrifying things that people will do for money:  “Lie for it / Spy for it / Kill for it / Die for it.” And he spits the words out as if the thought completely disgusts him. Then he goes on to say,

So you call it trust
But I say it’s just
In the devil’s game
Of greed and lust
 
They don’t care
They’d do me for the money
They don’t care
They use me for the money

I think it would pretty simplistic of us to believe that this song is merely an unflattering critique of greed and materialism. In fact, I think it’s fairly clear from these opening lines who ‘they’ are and how he feels about them.

Willa:  I agree, it’s a really strong indictment. But then he makes that classic Michael Jackson move we see in him so often where he suddenly flips the narrative, adopts the persona of those he’s critiquing, and begins speaking from their point of view:

I’ll never betray or deceive you my friend but
If you show me the cash
Then I will take it
If you tell me to cry
Then I will fake it
If you give me a hand
Then I will shake it
You will do anything for money

And then he breaks to the chorus, which pushes this reversal even further:

Anything (anything)
Anything for money
I’d lie for you
Would die for you
Even sell my soul to the devil

So suddenly he’s speaking from their perspective, even going so far as to say he would “sell my soul to the devil.” And the “you” he’s talking to seems to be money itself. If you didn’t know who the “you” was, you might think this was a love song, and these lines were a vow a man was pledging to his lover: I’d do anything for you, “I’d lie for you,” “die for you.”

But this is no love song. Just the opposite. He goes on to suggest that romance can’t compete with greed – so even if a woman were involved, she’d be sold out soon enough if the price were right:

You don’t care
You’d do her for the money
Say it’s fair
You’d sue her for the money

So the beloved he’s swearing loyalty to isn’t a woman but Money itself, and the effect of that personification is really chilling.

Joie:  It is chilling. It’s actually a very frightening song if you just sit and really listen to it. The lyrics are not for the fainthearted, and his eerie delivery of those lyrics is somewhat disquieting. And once again, without paying at least a little attention to the details of the events of 1993, I don’t believe one can fully appreciate the message of this song. And unfortunately, that message is that many people worship money and value it above all else.

In the second verse, he makes this accusation plain, asking where our loyalties and priorities are:

Insurance?
Where do your loyalties lie?
Is that your alibi?
I don’t think so

Willa:  Oh, that is such an important verse, Joie, and I agree, it clearly connects with the events of 1993. Insurance companies don’t protect their profits by upholding truth and justice, but by minimizing risk – and letting the Chandler civil case go to trial would have been a huge risk for them, financially. Michael Jackson wanted to fight, but his insurance company wanted him to settle, and so did his own lawyers because it’s always much safer to settle than go to court. So he wasn’t just fighting Evan Chandler but the people on his own team, and you can feel his outrage about that throughout this song, especially in a few pointed references, like that one, Joie.

Joie:  I agree completely. And it was a pretty bold move for him to put that in a song, I thought. And then he goes on to say this:

Want your pot of gold?
Need the Midas touch?
Bet you’d sell your soul
‘Cause your God is such
 
You don’t care
You kill for the money
Do or dare
The thrill for the money  

I think he’s clearly accusing the masses of worshiping money here, and near the end of the song, he begins a chant of “money makes the world go around” that punctuates his point.

Willa:  I don’t know, Joie. I’m not sure he’s accusing all of us of worshiping money. I mean, there are some places where he definitely implies that, like the beginning of the final verse:

You say you wouldn’t do it
For all the money in the world?
I don’t think so
If you show me the man
Then I will sell him

He’s implying pretty strongly here that everyone has a price – “If you show me the man / Then I will sell him” – and no one is exempt from that. So I see what you’re saying, Joie, and I definitely think this song has implications for all of us. But the “you” in this song – the person or thing he’s addressing – is very interesting and complicated, and shifts around constantly.

Joie:  It is complicated. In fact, I think it may be one of his most complicated songs because, as you said, the “you” does constantly shift. In one voice, he’s clearly pointing his finger and saying “you would do anything for money.” But in the next breath he’s taken on the persona of the “you” and saying he’d “even sell my soul to the devil.” And you know, I believe that ambiguity is exactly what he was going for here. He wanted us to question the “you” in this song. Because questioning the “you” also makes us question what our own feelings and thoughts about money are. Would we do “anything for money” as the chorus states? And does money make the world go around? I believe Michael was trying to prompt us to ask ourselves these hard questions.

Willa:  Wow, that’s a really interesting take on that, Joie. I like that interpretation. So it’s like he’s adopting multiple personas so we as an audience have to look at it from all those different points of view and to some degree adopt those subject positions as well, and some of those subject positions aren’t very comfortable. Like, if we sing along with the car stereo – which I tend to do a lot – we find ourselves singing the words, “Anything for money / I’d lie for you / Would die for you / Even sell my soul to the devil,” and what does it feel like to sing that? What happens mentally and emotionally when we sing those lyrics?

Joie:  Oh, my God, such good questions, Willa. What does it feel like when we sing those lyrics? I personally wouldn’t know because that line bothers me on a spiritual level. And, as a result, I have never sung those words before. Whenever I’m listening to this song and I’m singing along, I am very aware of that line and usually I end up replacing the word “my” with “your” when I’m singing along to this one. If I don’t do that, then I just avoid singing that line completely. And it’s really interesting to me that I do that, but I just always have.

Willa:  That is interesting, Joie, and I think it underscores just how much this song challenges us to question our own actions and values – to the point of making us pretty uncomfortable in some places. I do sing along, but I’m very aware of that line too, and it always pulls me up short.

So it sounds like we both have a powerful reaction to this song, and I think that was intentional – I think he wanted to shake us up and force us to take a hard look at ourselves. This song puts us in some really weird subject positions where we have to ask ourselves a lot of hard questions, as you say. Like “If you show me the cash / Then I will take it.” Every time I sing that out loud I wonder, is that true? Would I? Would I take “the cash” if someone offered it to me? And under what circumstances?

Joie:  I know what you mean, Willa. I have the same thought process whenever I listen to this song too. And I think you’re right, that was intentional. And it just proves to me, once again, how intentional he always was in his art and how brilliant he was.

Willa:  Oh, he was breathtakingly brilliant – and courageous as well, with that distinctive courage of a true artist. For one thing, he didn’t always try to please his audience. Sometimes he really shook us up and challenged us and made us uncomfortable, like he does in “Money” or “Little Susie” or the You Rock My World video. But that discomfort is never gratuitous. When we take a closer look, we find it serves an important artistic function and often leads us to see ourselves and our world a little differently.

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About Dancing with the Elephant contributors

Joie Collins is a founding member of the Michael Jackson Fan Club (MJFC). She has written extensively for MJFC, helping to create the original website back in 1999 and overseeing both the News and History sections of the website. Over the years she conducted numerous interviews on behalf of MJFC and also directed correspondence for the club. She also had the great fortune to be a guest at Neverland. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was three years old. Lisha McDuff is a classically trained professional musician who for 30 years made her living as a flutist, performing in orchestras and for major theatrical touring productions. Her passion for popular musicology led her to temporarily leave the orchestra pit and in June 2013 she received a Master’s degree in Popular Music Studies from the University of Liverpool. She’s continuing her studies at McMaster University, where she is working on a major research project about Michael Jackson, with Susan Fast as her director. Willa Stillwater is the author of M Poetica: Michael Jackson's Art of Connection and Defiance and "Rereading Michael Jackson," an article that summarizes some of the central ideas of M Poetica. She has a Ph.D. in English literature, and her doctoral research focused on the ways in which cultural narratives (such as racism) are made real for us by being "written" on our bodies. She sees this concept as an important element of Michael Jackson's work, part of what he called social conditioning. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was nine years old.

Posted on October 31, 2012, in Michael Jackson and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. I am so glad you included this song in your blog. I’ve loved Anything since it first came ut just because the lyrics are so intriguing.

  2. Thanks again ladies. Very interesting song indeed. I liked and listen to the song, but after 2005, for me, it had deeper meaning. Or should I say, I understood it better and felt I had been awakened.

  3. My take on “Money” was that it concerned the corporate sharks in the music industry; but I can see now that it more likely was connected to the 1993 extortion as were many of Michael’s songs in the mid-late 90’s, such as “DS” which he performed during the History tour. He shied away from nothing. Thanks for this post.

  4. Thanks for this very interesting discussion! The play with subjectivities is surely fascinating in this song!

    • I agree, Bjørn – “the play with subjectivities is surely fascinating.” I’m so intrigued by that as well, and partly I think it was a deliberate artistic decision to place audiences in multiple subject positions – not just in “Money” but throughout his work. For example, in “Morphine” he places us as both the addict and the enabling doctor (“Relax, this won’t hurt you / Before I put it in / Close your eyes and count to ten”). In “Dirty Diana” we’re both the rock start and the groupie (“Hey baby, do what you want / I’ll be your night lovin’ thing / I’ll be the freak you can taunt”). In “Earth Song” we are “the common man” as well as the trees, the flowers, the animals, the dispossessed people from around the world (“What about us? … What about us? … What about us?”).

      So I think it was an artistic decision, but I also think it was simply the way his mind worked. We see it in interviews, where his first impulse in almost any situation is to immediately put himself in the other person’s shoes. He’s constantly shifting his point of view and looking at questions from multiple perspectives, and I love that. I love watching him walk around a question and consider it from different angles. It’s fascinating to see his intellect work in that way, but I also think that’s the basis of his tremendous empathy as well.

      For example, there’s a conversation in Rabbi Boteach’s book where he’s criticizing Britney Spears for being too overtly sexual on stage, and Michael Jackson says,

      I understand why some artists may be a little controversial at times. I understand it. You know, if the press start talking too much about her coming from the Mickey Mouse Club and being, you know, cutie Britney, she might think, “I want to give them some edge so I can strip this. I’m edgier, I’m tougher, I’m …” You know? So I understand.

      So he immediately looks at it from her point of view, even speaking as if he were her as he works his way into her way of thinking – “I want to give them some edge … I’m edgier, I’m tougher, I’m …”

      • Thanks for that quote, Willa!
        I guess MJ’s use of different points of view could be the subject of an entire phd thesis. 🙂
        I agree with you that it was an artistic decision. He wanted to change us by giving us the tools to imagine ourselves as ”the other”. In one of the Ebony interviews (if I’m not mistaken!) he said a pop song was a ”mantra”. As the Buddhists and Hindus know, an oft-repeated formula has the power to change your consciousness, and Michael wanted our brains to play ”It don’t matter if you’re black or white” and ”I’m looking at the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways” over and over again, until the words became a part of ourselves.
        Unlike some fans, I won’t say MJ was superhuman, but he did have some extraordinarily keen insights. He was quite a psychologist.

        Speaking of MJ’s empathy, I was reminded of this article: http://www.mj-777.com/?p=6365

        He even tried to imagine how it must feel to be a vegetable…

        • aldebaranredstar

          Another big mantra: “Heal the World, Make it a better place”

          Thanks, Bjorn. Great point about the mantras in Michael’s lyrics.

          • Or what about the mantra in “Earth Song” of “What about us? … What about us? … What about us?” He’s really encouraging us to expand our field of vision and look at the world from a multitude of perspectives – as he does. He even considers the feelings of Mr. Carrot and Mr. Broccoli!

            btw, Bjørn, that article was a crack up! – so sweet and so funny at the same time. Thanks so much for sharing it. I hadn’t seen it before.

  5. I think “Money” is one of Michael’s most under-appreciated songs in terms of lyrics and message. It’s very profound, from the folklore reference to Midas, to the shifting perspective that you mentioned (he also brilliantly uses that in “Morphine”) to the subtle way in which he calls out the rich and influential. This last part with the called out names, “Vanderbilt, Morgan, Trump, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Getty…” has become my favorite. In the album version they are obscured and hard to make out – I never even noticed them until I watched one of the MJAcademiaProject videos. In this demo snippet they are more pronounced: http://soundcloud.com/user9040832 It really is a courageous song.

    • Hi Morinen. Thanks for the audio clip. I’m having trouble with my hearing right now so not sure how well I’m hearing things, but I could definitely tell he was calling out names, and it sounded like one of the names was Murdoch – and of course the media made a lot of money from sensationalizing the case against him, so that makes a lot of sense.

      p.s. Like you, I wasn’t aware of this element of “Money” until I watched the MJ Academia Project videos. I just checked, and those videos are still unavailable. I wish they would bring them back online. …

      • I didn’t know they were deleted. Why??

        • I don’t know. Charles Thomson has been in touch with them in the past, so maybe he knows. I’ll ask him.

          • Hi Willa and Morinen. You know, I have heard several people say they weren’t aware of that part of the song until they saw it on the MJAP videos, and it really surprises me how so many people missed it. But as you say Morinen, the names are somewhat obscured in the album version.

    • aldebaranredstar

      Hi, Morinen, I hear him say “Murdock” clearly but what is the other name? Sounds like “Chaperna”–but I am guessing. Do you know who he’s referring to?

  6. Willa and Joie, Hello!

    All of your statements about greed, betrayal and extortion are absolutely valid. Michael would be no exception to the rule that successful people have a string of hangers-on and leeches, and this solely for Money.

    There is however, another perspective to acquiring information about someone’s personal matters. First of all I believe in a round approach to an artist’s life, and wishing to delve into that person’s mind and heart should be legitimate. There is nothing reprehensible in knowing even that person’s most private niche when done in good faith. Second, quite often creativity is spurred by one’s personal experience, not only by the big issues of life, so why not know more. I quote the PreRaphaelites as an example. From my experience, as I paint dancers, their life stories, remember the Ballets Russes, can be enthralling. The same applies to European Symbolist Art, whose practitioners have often been psychoanalyzed with very interesting results. The same would apply to Michael Jackson, I try to know as much as possible about him, becasue it allows me feel as though I was there. These insights inspire me to produce more potent images of him.

    I’m really grateful for the extended quotations from Michael’s lyrics across all of your conversations, as this helps project him as a fine poet, a promotion I rarely otherwise encounter.

  7. Hi everyone

    Thanks for your blog on this song. I have to admit that I have avoided this song because as Joie wrote “It is chilling. It’s actually a very frightening song if you just sit and really listen to it. The lyrics are not for the fainthearted, and his eerie delivery of those lyrics is somewhat disquieting” and I felt very uncomfortable listening to it.

    Of course in the beginning of my journey with Michael, I didn’t understand what it was about until I started to research in 2010 and found out what had happened to him. Then it started to make some sense, but you have made it crystal clear to me now, and I have listened more intently over the last few days and now I get it. However, it still makes me feel uncomfortable as Michael sings it with such passion, pain and at times anger.

    I can quite cheerfully sing “Tom Sneddon you’re a cold man” – ja we all know the words are Dom Steddon but we all know who Michael meant!!! – at the top of my lungs with great conviction, but like you Joie I cannot sing the words to Money out loud without feeling uncomfortable and very sad, as it is a stark reminder of what Michael went through and how he felt about it.

    I am wondering about a verse that you didn’t include in your blog, and am wondering if it is another anti-war stance or what?

    You’re saluting the flag
    Your country trusts you
    Now you’re wearing a badge
    You’re called the ‘Just few’

    And you’re fighting the wars
    A soldier must do

    • Wow, that’s a really good question, Caro. My sense is that the events of 1993 radically altered Michael Jackson’s worldview in such profound ways, it’s almost impossible to overstate their impact. It seems to me that before 1993, he realized there were injustices within American institutions such as our military, law enforcement and legal systems, and may have suffered from prejudice and injustice within those systems – for example, during a trip to Alabama before Thriller came out – but he seems to have felt that it was just the actions of a few biased people. After 1993, that seems to change, and he begins seeing it as more of an institutional problem.

      To me, he’s challenging the police and military – people who have sworn to protect all citizens, regardless of race, religion, economic class, or other divisions – in those lines you quoted. I think he’s reminding them of the ideals they pledged to uphold and the importance of those ideals (“Your country trusts you”) and then questions if they are living up to those ideals by immediately shifting into those troubling lyrics we cited in the post:

      I’ll never betray or deceive you my friend but
      If you show me the cash
      Then I will take it
      If you tell me to cry
      Then I will fake it
      If you give me a hand
      Then I will shake it
      You will do anything for money

      That abrupt shift – from speaking to members of the police and the military to speaking in the voice of a corrupt man – suggests another way to interpret those troubling lines: that he’s adopting the persona of a corrupt policeman (“If you show me the cash / Then I will take it.”) I hadn’t thought about this that way before, but it makes sense in connection with the lines you quoted. What do you think?

      • Hi Willa

        “I think he’s reminding them of the ideals they pledged to uphold and the importance of those ideals (“Your country trusts you”) and then questions if they are living up to those ideals”

        yes I agree with you and of course all these people in the military, legal system etc were paid for what they did so that was an added dimension – such jobs arn’t always just vocational. After 1993 Michael’s horizon broadened as you said and so he became aware of larger systems out there. I think he thought on a smaller scale when stating his innocence at first, but his ‘people’ were the ones to point out that he may not get justice in the larger legal system, an idea which I wondered had even occured to Michael at the beginning of it all. Such a shame that such trust and innocence should be so challenged.

        Having read the rest of the comments in this blog, I am again drawn to the way Michael made us see all the situations he wrote about from so many difference perspectives, and think that is just sooo brilliant. He certainly had a brilliant mind and what a gift to us that he shared it in good times and bad!!

  8. aldebaranredstar

    This song deal with many hypocrisies; in the media, the church, the courts, and with large entities like governments and with individuals. In other words, systemic corruption due to the love of money. It would be good (hint, hint) to have the full lyrics posted in the lyrics gallery. But here are some that strike me as important, especially as concerns the lies told in 1993 by extortionists and repeated ad nauseum by the media idle jabbers (and I agree so much, Gihan, that Michael was ‘a fine poet’ and that should be recognized–his lyrics are poetry):

    Are you infected with the same disease
    Of lust, gluttoney and greed?
    Then watch the ones
    With the biggest smiles
    The idle jabbers…Cuz they’re the backstabbers
    If you know it’s a lie
    Then you will swear it
    If you give it with guilt
    Then you will bear it
    If it’s taking a chance
    Then you will dare it
    You’ll do anything for money…

  9. Some of you probably know, but maybe there are who don’t, but Evan sued Michael once again in 1996. One of the reasons was the HIStory album that hit a nerve with Evan. In his lawsuit he alleged that the album’s lyrics made „derogatory, harmful, malicious” statements against him and his son. The songs he had a problem with were This Time Around, D.S., Tabloid Junkie, They Don’t Care About Us (he thought the words “jew me, sue me” were an attack against him, since he was Jewish) and Money.

    The irony in it is, that while objecting the lyrics of Money and the other songs, he demanded $60 million plus $750,000 from Michael in this lawsuit! So with the lawsuit he only proved Michael’s point about his greed! Additionally Evan also demanded an order that he could release a record about the alleged molestation of his son!

    „As an additional direct and proximate result of Defendant Jackson’s and others’ material breach of the agreement as herein alleged, and because of the need to repair the reputation of the Plaintiff, Plaintiff seeks the equitable remedy of an order to allow him to publish and cause to be distributed to the public for sale a certain musical composition entitled “EVANstory.” This album will include such songs as: “D.A. Reprised”: “You Have No Defense (For My Love)”; “Duck Butter Blues”; “Truth”; and other songs.”

    The lawsuit: http://web.archive.org/web/20070916092707/http://www.courttv.com/archive/legaldocs/newsmakers/jackson.html

    Can you believe that? What parent would want to release a record about the alleged molestation of his son? Evan was clearly an obsessed, mentally ill person.

    No wonder that the lawsuit got thrown out of court in 2000.

    • aldebaranredstar

      Hi, Jacksonaktak, I agree Evan was mentally ill. For example, he was uncontrollably violent. He physically attacked June Chandler’s husband Dave Schwartz twice, once in Evan’s home, and once in the lawyer Feldman’s office! He attacked Jordan with Mace and a 12 pound bar from behind. I suspect there was spousal abuse too, and maybe that is why June divorced him when Jordan was around 5–but I am guessing about that. He would have to be crazy to want to make that album about the abuse and to ask for $60 Million. He sued Michael, Diane Sawyer, ABC, and Universal. Thanks for the link to that case. What I can’t understand is why the extortion claim that Michael filed against Rothman and Evan did not get the same investigative attention from the police as the molestation claim. For ex., the police did not set up a Grand Jury investigation, did not conduct search warrants on Evan and Rothman’s property.

      • According to an article about Evan’s death in 2009 Evan was bipolar. The article cited Diane Dimond as a source for this, who in turn cited “sources close to the family”.

        “What I can’t understand is why the extortion claim that Michael filed against Rothman and Evan did not get the same investigative attention from the police as the molestation claim.”

        Because the investigators were biased and prejudiced against Michael from the get go. They decided that MJ did this and so they probably considered the extortion claim only a distraction. Another interesting tidbit is mentioned in Ray Chandler’s book. He says that the lawyer whom Evan hired to defend him against the extortion allegations, Richard Hirsch, was a good friend of LA deputy DA, Lauren Weiss…

        Geraldine Hughes wrote in her book that she volunteered to support the extortion charges against Evan, but no one cared. No one ever interviewed her from the authorities, no one seemed to care.

        IMO the prosecution against Michael was corrupt and prejudiced and did not care about the truth, they just wanted to “get” MJ, since they decided in advance that he was guilty.

        I wonder if they read Ray Chandler’s book in the hindsight. I don’t know how else you can interpret what they did than extortion…

        • “Because the investigators were biased and prejudiced against Michael from the get go. They decided that MJ did this and so they probably considered the extortion claim only a distraction.”

          I’m going to disagree a little here. I don’t think it was so much that they thought Michael was guilty. I think it was more that it was Michael Jackson and that meant a high profile case. It meant that all people involved would be making a name for themselves.

  10. Of course the song is about greed generally, but to me it’s clearly inspired by the Chandlers. When I hear the lyrics:

    Are you infected with the same disease
    Of lust, gluttoney and greed?
    Then watch the ones
    With the biggest smiles
    The idle jabbers…Cuz they’re the backstabbers

    I think of a scene described by both Michael’s private investigator, Anthony Pellicano and by Ray Chandler in his book, that when Evan extorted Michael he did this with a big smile and a friendly tap on Michael’s back. Here is the story from Mary Fischer’s 1994 GQ article:

    “On seeing Jackson, says Pellicano, Chandler gave the singer an affectionate hug (a gesture, some say, that would seem to belie the dentist’s suspicions that Jackson had molested his son), then reached into his pocket, pulled out Abrams’s letter and began reading passages from it.
    When Chandler got to the parts about child molestation, the boy, says Pellicano, put his head down and then looked up at Jackson with a surprised expression, as if to say “I didn’t say that.”
    As the meeting broke up, Chandler pointed his finger at Jackson, says Pellicano, and warned “I’m going to ruin you.”

    It is also mentioned in Ray Chandler’s book:

    “Evan then walked over to Michael and embraced the star with a big, happy-to-see-you hug, patting him on the back like an old friend.”

    I also think of the biblical scene of Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss.

    How many parents would give the person whom they suspect to have molested their child a “happy-to-see-you hug” and would “pat him on the back like an old friend”? It has to be noted that later that same day Evan and his lawyer, Barry Rothman made their $20 million demand to Pellicano (who represented Michael) in Rothman’s office.

    It’s also funny that the Chandlers act so offended by the suggestion that their motive was money, when they actually admit it in Ray’s own book:

    “Fields and Pellicano already knew Evan was willing to negotiate. Why not pay him off and nip the nightmare in the bud while you’ve got the opportunity? Especially when you know your man is guilty of sleeping with little boys, at least. Not only do you avoid a civil suit, but also, more important, you buy your way around authorities by removing their star witness. Ten, twenty, thirty million? Money’s no object. The deal could be a fait accompli within hours. And if it doesn’t work, you can always come out swingin’ anyway.”

    and

    “Had Michael paid the twenty million dollars demanded of him in August, rather than the following January, he might have spent the next ten years as the world’s most famous entertainer, instead of the world’s most infamous child molester.”

    • Hi Jacksonaktak. I think that final meeting between Evan Chandler and Michael Jackson is so important, especially the scene you describe so well of Chandler walking up and hugging him – while all the while accusing him of molesting his son. According to Taraborrelli’s biography, the meeting ends with Chandler saying, “I’m going to ruin you. You’re going down, Michael. You’re going down.”

      Those were the last words Chandler ever said to him, and we hear those words echoing throughout the Blood on the Dance Floor album. “Morphine” ends with these lines:

      You just sit around
      Just talking nothing
      And taking morphine

      I’m going down, baby
      You talking morphine

      And “Blood on the Dance Floor” includes these lines:

      Susie got your number
      Susie ain’t your friend
      (It’s going down, baby)
      Look who took you under
      She’s got seven inches in
      Blood is on the dance floor
      Blood is on the knife
      (It’s going down, baby)
      Susie got your number
      You know Susie says it’s right

      If we see Susie as representing his audience, as the threatening women in his songs often do, then this song is especially chilling. And it’s significant, I think, that Susie stabs him on the dance floor.

      The connection to “the backstabbers” in “Money” is especially interesting in this context. I hadn’t connected those lines in “Money” that you cited (“Then watch the ones / With the biggest smiles / The idle jabbers … Cuz they’re the backstabbers”) with that scene of Even Chandler walking up and hugging him, but it makes so much sense now that you’ve pointed it out. As you say, it was such a scene of betrayal, like “the biblical scene of Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss,” and it obviously had a deep impact on Michael Jackson, as we see in “Money,” “Morphine,” “Blood on the Dance Floor,” and throughout his later work.

  11. Thanks Willa and Joie, Money is really a great song, I would like to tell you that from non-English mother language, when you listen to the song, even if the words can not be understood in the round, you earn everything that Michael wanted to say, he is able to transfer an emotionally unpleasant feeling and a subtle contempt for the human spirit which underlies the god of money.

    It ‘amazing how universally this artist is able to convey his messages. I, frankly, I do not find this gift in any other in the world!

  12. One of the most chilling lines in Money is when, towards the end of the song, you hear Michael exclaim in a very forceful voice, “If you want it, you earn it, with dignity.”

    I believe that song was targeted towards many people who had attempted to extort money from Michael all his life. It was a sort of cry of frustration, a communication to the world that Michael had encountered the straw that broke the camels back. You can hear the beginnings of Michael’s frustration and feelings of being used and betrayed in another favorite of my own, “Cheater”.

    You know I work to hard for this kinda play, (ho!)
    I wrote a letter, for the getto of the CIA, (ho!)
    I don’t care a jack, or about what cha’ do, (ho!)
    Just put ya dime on the line baby, cos i own you, (ho!)

    CHORUS
    Somebody said, give up instead on how you feel, (ah-uh)
    One blow to the head is all you need
    (I aint takin it..ya,)
    Cheater (oooooh!, Do it!, What!, (Ya Got) Do it!, What! (Get back on me…))

    VERSE TWO
    Now you better go and get yourself some attitude!
    I know ya name and the game is “I own you” (ho!)
    Ya, tellin’ me that ya comin to a compramise (ho!)
    Ya smilin at me while, ya stealin right before my eyes (Daggone it (ho!))

    Still money remains the most poignant to me. From the beginning, when Michael announces: “MONEY” right before the beat hits, you know Michael is serious. If you listen to the song with headphones, you can clearly hear Michael calling out the names of the money moguls in America, “Vanderbilt, Morgan, Trump, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Getty” as someone above mentioned, while the background chorus is saying, “Money makes the world go round.” Study the lives of these men and how they got their money (and we all know Michael was an avid reader.) the point of the song becomes clearer: it’s a multilayered accusation, beginning on a very personal level that branches out into a direct condemnation of the whole entire human race, that we are obsessed with money, will do anything for money, will betray each other for money, unwilling to work for money and have been entirely corrupted by our love for it. Through out the song, he uses a narrative voice to present the arguments of those guilty of this sin, and then periodically dismantles their justifications, culminating with one forceful line: “I don’t think so.” I think its an important point the Michael only sings the chorus of this song; he doesn’t sing the lyrics but speaks them as one would a powerful sermon.

    Did Money ever hit number one? I think songs like these are so poignant that they are seldom well received by the public. Michael is certainly not the first to write a song like that, The Ojays “For the Love of Money” comes to mind.
    “Money money money money, MONEY
    Money money money money, MONEY

    Some people got to have it
    Hey, Hey, Hey – some people really need it

    Hey, listen to me, y’all do thangs, do thangs, do thangs – bad thangs with it”

    I personally think that Money was directed at the very least to a few members of Michael’s family, members who have through out the years demonstrated quite succinctly that they are more interested in Michael’s money than they are in Michael’s welfare. As a sensitive artist, Michael’s music would certainly embody the sense of abandonment and betrayal that he’d feel when those closest to him use and abuse him.

    • aldebaranredstar

      “As a sensitive artist, Michael’s music would certainly embody the sense of abandonment and betrayal that he’d feel when those closest to him use and abuse him.”

      I agree, Julia, that must have hurt him so much, including when he was a child performer and going all the way to adulthood. In 93 LaToya, for whatever reasons, went on national TV saying he was guilty of abusing children right around the time of the strip search. To have your own sister do that must have been terribly painful and at the very time when he was most traumatized and needed support. Shocking!

  13. p.s. I noticed that on this Wikipedia page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIStory:_Past,_Present_and_Future,_Book_I

    if you scroll down to the bottom, Money is one of two songs from that ablum that doesn’t have it’s own personal descriptive page, which is such a shame. It’s an undertaking but I’m hoping that will be corrected soon.

  14. aldebaranredstar

    I came across this short speech Michael made at the NAACP Awards in 1994 where he talks about the right to be presumed innocent until charged with a crime and convicted by a jury of his peers. It shows how his thinking about justice is evolving when he says he did not value this constitutional right until he was falsely accused, and it is great to see all the support he gets from the audience.

  15. Hi everyone. In light of the U.S. presidential elections, I thought it was appropriate to post this link of Michael Jackson performing at Bill Clinton’s inaugural celebration:

  16. Hello Willa,

    I’m so grateful for your inclusion of this video, it was one of Michael’s most moving performances, and very revealing as to his qualities as a person. Of course such heights easily provoked envy and manoevering from the malicious who surounded him, no wonder the huge amounts of Money they believed they would gain from dethroning him. Alone on stage, apearing for the then President-elect Bill Clinton, Michael is an autonomous artist, whose worth does not depend on who is in the audience, beautiful to watch perform, attempting to raise awareness on AIDS and related issues that required healing, rather than exalt himself. Notice his body language with children towards the end of heal the World, it is a model of harmony and care.

    Aldebaranredstar, you’re absolutely right at being shocked about the betrayal that characterized some family members and those supposedly close. I feel just as appalled.

    • I agree, Gihan. I love the way he interacts with the children at the end – something we often saw in his concerts when he invited children on stage.

  17. aldebaranredstar

    In this so important song, the words “anything” are prominent–“ANYTHING, ANYTHING, ANYTHING for money.” Repeated 3 times in the first lines of the chorus. The other prominent, eye-popping phrase to me is “even sell your soul to the devil.” I hear Michael’s complete condemnation of all the liars, saying basically that they are evil, their closest friend is the devil, and they will go to hell.

    His condemnation especially refers to the 1993 trial and the lawsuits, or threatened lawsuits, that came after, such as Blanca Francia getting $2M for threatening to lie in court in 1994, the so-called Neverland 5 (5 ex-employees) suing for wrongful termination and a whole slew of other charges also in 1994, and V. Gutierrez for claiming on Hard Copy in 94 that there was a videotape of Michael molesting his own nephew Jeremy–another lie, and VG was then sued along with Hard Copy and Diane Dimond. I mean Michael was surrounded by liars all asking for MONEY on the basis of their lies.

    It is also clear that the lawyer for the Chandlers (and later for the Arvizos) Larry Feldman must have known that Jordan Chandler was lying, or at least that there was a high degree of probability (99.9%) of that. For example, he knew that Jordan did not know that Michael was not circumcised even tho’ he initially claimed he masturbated Michael 10 times. He also had Dr. Gardener’s conclusions regarding Jordan’s truthfulness, conclusions never released. If they had been favorable, they would have been leaked, as everything else was, including Jordan’s interview with Gardener.

    “Money” is Michael’s slam-dunk on the liars that surrounded him–letting them know that he knew their game, knew who there were and what they had done, not only to him but to their souls–“even sell your soul to the devil.”

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