Saturday, July 17, 2010

Song of the Week: (We've Got) Blue Skies

Note: Today we roll out a new regular feature, Song of the Week. I'm pleased to announce that Corey Sheppard will appear on this blog as a regular columnist, writing each week about an individual song from the J5 songbook -- some hits, some misses, and lots of album cuts.

I've known Corey since we was a young teenager who was a regular in the old J5 Forum that was connected to my original J5Collector website. At that time, I think Corey was the youngest regular on the Board, but he quickly impressed even the more seasoned regulars with his J5 knowledge and enthusiasm, and, most especially, with his incredible ear for music. I have always felt I can listen to an old song with new ears after having read Corey's comments about it.

This week Corey makes his debut with "(We've Got) Blue Skies."

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“(We’ve Got) Blue Skies” is a song that appeared off of the Jackson 5’s 1971 album Maybe Tomorrow. As long as I’ve been a member of several MJ and J5 boards, this song has always sparked a lot of discussion over whether this record was a great song choice for the group.

I must admit that growing up with the Jackson 5 (in the ‘90’s of course!). I was never really fond of the song. I always remember immediately skipping it after hearing the first few seconds and the background singers (which sounds like Jackie predominately) singing “(We’ve Got) Blue Skies.” Something about that annoying sound panning all around the speakers used to really irritate me (sounds like a bug flying around your ears, never leaving you alone lol). I truly never gave the song a chance. Every time I would list my favorites from this album, it was never included on my lists or many others.

But now…. I have found a new appreciation for the song. By 1971 slowly but surely, things were changing for the Jackson 5. They were going through a romantic period if you will. Records like “I’ll Be There” and “Never Can Say Goodbye” were becoming the norm for them instead of records such as “I Want You Back” and “The Love You Save.” Michael’s voice had a very pure sound to it around this period. He didn’t do as much shouting as he had done on the first two albums. This song gave the boys an opportunity to sing a song more folksy, more alternative instead of bubblegum-ish. After all, who can you imagine singing this song other than the J5?

I think it would be very interesting to know what the boys thought about this particular tune when they first heard the song. There might have been some hesitation on their behalf. I must say that I’ve always loved Michael’s chuckles on the final chorus; it always makes me laugh and reminds me of how young he actually was when he recorded this song. Hopefully as you continue to grow, you will learn to appreciate the versatility and talent that comes with “(We’ve Got) Blue Skies.”

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Corey Sheppard, 20, has been a Jackson 5 fan since 1993. His favorite hobbies are listening to music, playing racquetball at the YMCA, and hanging out with friends. Corey’s life passion is centered on music. His latest project is an all-new production company shared with Robert White Jr. entitled "Ask About It Productions."


  1. welcome Corey and well done on the 'promotion'.

    Actually Blue skies is one of my favorite song, and one of some that makes Maybe Tomorrow my favorite album too.
    I thought this song was fitting perfectly into it and it's almost tragic and despaired tone was exactly in harmony with the rest of the album.
    I mean, maybe tomorrow, Petals, the wall, they aren't exactly 'happy' songs but more of a love's gone bad or of a heart always wishing for someone's else love to be returned.

    very poetic. I like what you say about the J5 entering a 'romantic' period, because it rings true to my ears.

    and yes, michael's voice then was fantastic.

    I must say also that "honey Chile" was there to relieve a bit of the constant pressure we felt hearing songs like Blue Skies.
    (and I always loved that strange 'bug noise' always tried to imitate it, hee, to the 'damn'(damn??) of my mother)


  2. I love this blog, it's so informative and beautifully displayed. I remember the old forum with fondness even though I wasn't on there long. I remember my only contribution was to work out the lyrics to "Love Scenes" under the name "Innocent" or "Michael_jackson". I forget which now!

    Great contribution from Corey. I had a similar opinion of "(we've got) Blue skies" when I first heard it sometime in 2001. I was about 14 and I immediately skipped it after hearing the first few lines of the first verse, writing it off as boring.

    In fact I did that with several of the Jackson 5 ballads (with the exception of "Maybe Tommorrow" and "I'll be there") as I couldn't really relate to them and felt they were too "big" for the brothers.

    Looking back now at the age of 22 I realise how wrong I was! I took a break from listening to The Jackson 5/Michael for a few years and since coming back to the music I have grown to love "Blue skies" and appreciate the song for what it is - a wonderful piece of music. The chuckles are my favourite part also.

  3. I've actually always been fond of this song. I'm 28 now, and first picked up the "Maybe Tomorrow" album at the age of 15. For years, it was neck in neck with "ABC" for my favorite J5 album (at the time). It was just so different; the melodies of "Blue Skies," "Petals," and some of the other lesser-known songs always struck me, and the instrumentation and prodcution on this album stands apart somewhat from the overall feel of their other early records. And as for Michael's singing on this song, just listen to the way he emotes at several different parts: "see you there, you're kissing him" (especially the word "him"), and "we're so in love, we're thinking of..." toward the end (how bold the first line is, and how gentle and hushed the second is). I think the success of "I'll Be There," with its acoustic-folk leanings definitely influenced this song and album in general.

  4. Wow, Corey, what a debut!
    Great column, which song will be next?

    I loved this song immediately! But maybe that's because I was a little older when I heard it for the first time.
    I think I can hear Michael laughing about 3 times in this song. I don't really get why they let that in the song... was it intentionally or not. I really like those bits in this song either way.

  5. First you gotta say Michael sings the hell of out this - but then again he does that with everything. To me the background singers sound like anonymous people, not the J5, to me it adds to the ethereal feeling of the whole track. They were really pushing for weird here. That buzzing is really strange. Michael makes you feel the pain so damn much that I always listened to this with awe. Huh Huh Huh!!

  6. @raisa in my opinion the laughter was intentional. It was meant to be Michael chuckling at what a fool he'd been to believe the girl's promises of blue skies and laughter of relief to discover he wasn't the only guy being suckered in as a result of her telling her new boyfriend the exact same thing.

  7. I really like "Blue Skies" especially near the end as Michael is "ad-libing" to the song as it nearing it's end. I also enjoy "It's Great To Be Here" and "My Little Baby" from this same album. Hope we can find some live performances of some of the tracks from this album !

  8. I actually have always thought that was Jermaine doing the fake chuckle at the end. I'll have to listen again.

  9. Okay, after listening to it again with that in mind, I still think Jermaine does the first two chuckles and Michael does the last one.