Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jewish Themes in Michael Jackson's Songs

Today is the fifth anniversary of Michael Jackson's sudden death. He died on June 25, 2009 and like the notable deaths of other big name celebrities, I remember exactly where I was at the time. As a child I was a big fan of Michael Jackson's music. I recall listening to the cassette tape of Thriller on the way to and from Hillel Day School in the Fall of 1982. When I discovered MJ's "Off the Wall" cassette in my parents' music collection I listened to it until it just broke. Today, my oldest son loves listening to Michael Jackson, which is certainly a good sign that his music will outlive him.

In Michael Jackson's memory I've gone through his entire song catalog to find the "Jewish themes" in his music. Thanks for reading and sharing... Enjoy!

Michael Jackson wearing a kippah (yarmulke)

ABC – Learning the alef-bet in cheder

A Brand New Day Havdallah

Another Part of Me  Neshama Yiterah (our second soul on Shabbat)

[I’m] Bad – The Vidui (Confessional)

Baby Be Mine – Pidyon Haben

Beat It – Hoshanah Rabbah theme

Beautiful Girl  – King Ahashverosh's serenade of Queen Esther

Ben – Hebrew for “son”

Black or White – How some describe Jewish law

Break of Dawn – Hashkama Minyan (early risers' prayer group)

Can't Get Outta the Rain – Mashiv haruach u'morid hageshem (prayer for rain)

Can't Let Her Get Away – Agunah (chained woman without a bill of divorce)

Cheater – Ryan Braun

Come Together – Minyan

Dancing Machine – There’s one at every Jewish wedding

Dirty Diana – The Princess of Wales in niddah (sorry!)

Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough – What you don’t say to a mohel

Earth Song – "Kol Ha-olam Kulo"

Fly Away  – Shiluah Haken (shooing away the mother bird)

Free  – Yovel (Jubilee year when all slaves and prisoners go free)

The Girl Is Mine – Kinyan at a Jewish wedding "Harei at mekudeshet lee b’taba’at zo…"

Got to Be There – That guilty inner monologue before holiday dinners with the family

Heal the World – Mi-Sheberach prayer for the Ill

I Want You Back – Pidyon Haben (redemption of the first born)

I'll Be There – Elijah says this before every bris

In the Back – Where everyone sits in shul

Jam – Goes nice on a bagel

Keep the Faith – Ani Ma'amin (b'emunah shleyma)

Leave Me Alone – Lonely Man of Faith (Soloveitchik)

Man in the Mirror – Cheshbon Nefesh (personal accounting before High Holidays)

Night Time Lover – Mikvah Night

Off the Wall – What happens to your kvittel (note) if you don't stick it deep enough into the cracks of the Kotel (Western Wall)

Privacy – Yichud

(No Michael Jackson songs that start with Q)

Remember the Time – Kiddush (Remember the Sabbath day...)

Rock with You – Palestinians said this to Israelis during Intifada

Save Me – Hoshiah Na!

She’s out of My Life – Get (Bill of Divorce)

Somebody's Watching Me – God's omnipresence

Someone in the Dark – Pharaoh during the 9th plague

Speechless – Vayidom Aharon (Aaron was speechless - Lev. 9)

Take Me Back – Ba'al Teshuva

Unbreakable – The groom can't smash the glass at his wedding

Up Again – T'chiyat Hametim (resurrection of the dead)

(No Michael Jackson songs that start with V)

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Simchat Torah

We Are Here to Change the World – Tikkun Olam

We’ve Had Enough – Dayeinu!

(No Michael Jackson songs that start with X)

You Are Not Alone – Hashem is everywhere

You Can’t Win – Trying to convince Bubbie you're not hungry

(No Michael Jackson songs that start with Z)

1 comment:

Rabbi Samuel Press said...

As always~ "sharp" informative, brilliant and all kudos!