Don't Take It Personal

Album: Don't Take It Personal (1989)
Charted: 69 64


  • In this breakup ballad, Jermaine Jackson is ready to move on from a relationship that's run its course, but he doesn't want his girl to blame herself. "Don't take it personal," he sings. "Take the bitter with the sweet, some good things come to an end."
  • This was written and produced by David Conley and David Townsend, both of the R&B group Surface, along with Derrick Culler, an R&B singer/songwriter who wrote tunes for Surface and Jackson's sister Rebbie, among others. The song was inspired by Culler's relationship with his ex-wife.
  • When Conley brought the song to Arista Records, the A&R department suggested he contact Milli Vanilli, the German R&B duo who was poised to explode in the US with the release of Girl You Know It's True. But Conley couldn't see eye-to-eye with their producer, Frank Farian. "He was trying to work it out so I could produce the music here and send the tapes to Germany and have them sing the song. I wasn't accustomed to doing things like that," he explained to Billboard. Clive Davis, Arista's president, let the songwriters decide between Milli Vanilli and Jermaine Jackson.
  • Jackson took the song to #1 on the R&B chart, but Conley regrets not letting Milli Vanilli have the song. Although a lip-synching scandal erupted that ended the duo's career as fast as it had begun, they sold millions of records in their heyday in the late '80s with hot singles like "Girl You Know It's True" and "Blame It On The Rain." When asked if he could go back and change his decision, Conley replied: "If I knew what I do know, of course I would! 'Bye, Jermaine!'"
  • Conley was surprised when Jackson asked to use the same New Jersey studio where Surface recorded their 1988 album, 2nd Wave. "He came to my house, to a raggedy little studio built in a dining room," he recalled. Conley was even more impressed when Jackson, who had always turned down Surface-written songs in the past, came thoroughly prepared. "He had all the lyrics memorized. He knew exactly how he wanted to do it."
  • In the music video, Jackson reminisces about the romantic times he shared with his girlfriend as she prepares to move out of their home.
  • This qualifies for our songs with bad grammar in the title category for its use of the adjective personal instead of the adverb personally. Adjectives are used to describe nouns, while adverbs are used to describe an action - such as the verb take. The title should be "Don't Take It Personally."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Bob Dylan Lyric Quiz

Bob Dylan Lyric QuizMusic Quiz

Think you know your Bob Dylan lyrics? Take this quiz to find out.

Kerry Livgren of Kansas

Kerry Livgren of KansasSongwriter Interviews

In this talk from the '80s, the Kansas frontman talks turning to God and writing "Dust In The Wind."

Charlie Daniels

Charlie DanielsSongwriter Interviews

Charlie discusses the songs that made him a Southern Rock icon, and settles the Devil vs. Johnny argument once and for all.

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"Songwriter Interviews

Ian talks about his 3 or 4 blatant attempts to write a pop song, and also the ones he most connected with, including "Locomotive Breath."

Subversive Songs Used To Sell

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.

Glen Burtnik

Glen BurtnikSongwriter Interviews

On Glen's résumé: hit songwriter, Facebook dominator, and member of Styx.