Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson worked together on a few different tunes, including the memorable hits “The Girl Is Mine,” “Say, Say, Say,” “The Man,” and “Girlfriend.” Some of their collaborations rose to the top of the Billboard Charts and stayed there for weeks on end. Their duet “Say, Say, Say” tops the list as Jackson’s best performing Hot 100 Chart single, according to Billboard. The duet led the charts for six weeks starting in December of 1983. Unfortunately, “Say, Say, Say” does not receive the radio time it deserves today…but that’s another issue.
During an interview with James Dean Bradfield, McCartney discussed working with Michael Jackson and explained how well the two meshed — on mental and vocal levels; their mutual excitement led to speedy creative output.
Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson wrote ‘Say, Say, Say’ and ‘The Man’ in person
During his interview with Bradfield, McCartney explained that Jackson came to London to work with The Beatles legend in person. He shared:
“Michael originally rang me, he said, ‘do you want to make some hits?’ I didn’t know who it was. I didn’t recognize his voice at first…We got into it. I said, ‘Yeah. Sure I do…’ We agreed to meet here…We just started, like you do…”
McCartney noted that “it came very easily, cause I was quite excited to write with him, he was quite excited to write with me, so we were popping off each other…it was quite a short session.” He explained that it was “live,” since they worked in the same room together rather than via correspondence.
Paul McCartney on the fact that he and Michael Jackson’s voices are sometimes indistinguishable in ‘Say, Say, Say’ and ‘The Man’
When asked if it “shocked him” to hear how close his voice was “texturally” to Jackson’s, and whether he struggled to “separate” their voices, McCartney responded:
“Particularly on the new mix, you can’t tell kind of thing. When we were writing it, we were both in this [mimics singing in a high key] ‘little sort of vibe’, you know, that’s kind of how he sings anyway. So, I was kind of going along with that…he’s doing the little voice, so I like doing that little voice as well.”
McCartney went on to note that they may have to label who is singing what on the 2015 remixed record release. In the end, their duets made for some of the greatest hits, as their voices mesh simply and beautifully.
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