She's Out of My Life

Album: Off the Wall (1980)
Charted: 3 10
Play Video


  • This heartfelt ballad was written by Tom Bahler. Though he dated Karen Carpenter (who would die of complications from anorexia in 1983), the song was not about the eventual demise of their romance. Bahler explained it was actually inspired by his breakup with his previous girlfriend, Rhonda Rivera.
  • Off the Wall producer Quincy Jones had been saving the track for Frank Sinatra but wanted to introduce Jackson to more mature themes in his music. The song would become famous for the King of Pop's tearful performance. Jones remembered: "She's Out of My Life, I'd been carrying around for about three years - you can feel the pain in it, you know. And I held on to it and finally something said 'this is the right moment to give it to Michael'.

    And when we recorded it with Michael, I know it was an experience he'd never even thought about to sing in a song, 'cause it's a very mature emotion. And he cried at the end of every take, you know. We recorded about - I don't know - 8-11 takes, and every one at the end, he just cried, and I said 'hey - that's supposed to be, leave it on there.'"
  • Bruce Gowers directed the stark music video that put Jackson's emotions front and center. He told Rolling Stone: "What you're seeing on there is one complete take, it was shot multi-camera. [This and 'Rock With You'] were both shot on the same day. I think we shot one at like three in the afternoon and one at 5… Very emotional he was in that. I was worried that he was actually going to break down and cry – which would have probably been a bit wonderful if we got some tears rolling down the face. That almost happened but not quite."
  • In his Moonwalk autobiography, Jackson explained that the song forced him to confront feelings of loneliness, of being "so rich in some experiences while being poor in moments of true joy."

Comments: 2

  • Ale from Cardboard BoxLowkey ugly cried while listening to this song.
  • Poetdannyqueen from Md."man in the Mirror"
    (A Tribute to Michael Jackson 1958-2009)

    The man in the mirror
    Was and will always be
    Always and forever be
    A special part of me.

    In his own privately
    Personal need to be
    He was a human-being
    Not just a personality.

    Above and beyond his
    Music's power to heal
    The king of pop had
    Soul-universal appeal.

    For those of us who
    Had less than a hint
    He changed our perception
    Of what mainstream-meant.

    But the day time stood
    Still and music cried
    Was the day the man
    In the mirror died...

    The language of joy,pain
    And life long,childhood-strife
    Thru triumph and tragedy
    Was the story of his life.

    Those who major in
    Minors for all seasons
    Will always be who they
    Are for whatever reason.

    In his love of style
    Class and pop-fashion
    He was the icon of pure
    Perfection in his passion.

    Like none other the world
    Had ever seen or heard
    He was a il in' legend in
    Ever sense of the word.

    The day time stood
    Still and music cried
    Was the day the man
    In the mirror died...

    Copyright 2009
    All rights reserved

see more comments

Editor's Picks

Steely Dan

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

Taylor Dayne

Taylor DayneSongwriter Interviews

Taylor talks about "The Machine" - the hits, the videos and Clive Davis.

Dan Reed

Dan ReedSongwriter Interviews

Dan cracked the Top 40 with "Ritual," then went to India and spent 2 hours with the Dalai Lama.

Bryan Adams

Bryan AdamsSongwriter Interviews

What's the deal with "Summer of '69"? Bryan explains what the song is really about, and shares more of his songwriting insights.


PrinceFact or Fiction

Prince is shrouded in mystery, making him an excellent candidate for Fact or Fiction. Is he really a Scientologist? Does he own an exotic animal?

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater RevivalFact or Fiction

Is "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" about Vietnam? Was John Fogerty really born on a Bayou? It's the CCR edition of Fact or Fiction.