The Michael Jackson Hit That Was Meant for Frank Sinatra

Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra made very different music — or did they? One of Jackson’s early hits was actually meant for Sinatra. The track also stands out because you can hear Jackson crying at the end of the recording — for a very specific reason.

Michael Jackson wearing his signature glove
Michael Jackson | David McGough/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Why a potential Frank Sinatra song became a Michael Jackson song

According to the book MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson, Tom Bahler wrote a ballad called “She’s Out of My Life.” Bahler based the song’s lyrics on a relationship he had after his divorce. Bahler was initially going to give the song to Sinatra — one of the most acclaimed balladeers of all time. Subsequently, Quincy Jones persuaded Bahler to give the song to Jackson for his first masterpiece album, Off the Wall

Why you can hear Michael Jackson crying in ‘She’s Out of My Life’

“She’s Out of My Life” became the first song Jackson recorded for Off the Wall. He immediately thought it should be the single from the album. According to the book In the Studio With Michael Jackson, Jackson was very emotionally affected by the song.

He would break down crying after every take and he was embarrassed about how “She’s Out of My Life” made him so emotional. Therefore, he would leave the studio out of a back door after recording the song. Jackson’s crying could easily have been cut from the final version of the song. However, Jones decided that the sound of Jackson crying should be included in “She’s Out of My Life.”

Why the lyrics of ‘She’s Out of My Life’ changed

“She’s Out of My Life” by Michael Jackson

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One of the lyrics of the song includes the word “d*mned” and Jackson had a difficult time getting himself to sing the word. Jackson was uncomfortable swearing and consequently had a difficult time getting himself to use that word. After that, Jones convinced him it was completely necessary for him to sing it. 

On the other hand, the book Michael Jackson: All the Songs reports Jackson was able to change a different lyric of “She’s Out of My Life” which made him uncomfortable. A lyric was changed from “Instead of begging my wife/she’s out of my life” to “And it cuts like a knife/ she’s out of my life.” Jackson made this change as he was a teenager at the time, uninterested in marriage. 

How the world reacted to the song

Michael Jackson in a car
Michael Jackson | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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Subsequently, “She’s Out of My Life” performed well. Billboard reports the song reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, considering Jackson had numerous No. 1 hits, “She’s Out of My Life” is overshadowed by many songs in his discography. In fact, it’s arguably been overshadowed by other songs from Off the Wall. This is ironic considering Jackson’s belief in its potential as a single. Regardless, many of Jackson’s fans feel the track showcases his voice very well — an impressive feat considering the song wasn’t meant for him.

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