She's Out of My Life

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"She's Out of My Life"
She's Out of My Life by Michael Jackson US vinyl.jpg
Side-A label of U.S. vinyl single
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Off the Wall
ReleasedApril 18, 1980
Format7" single
RecordedDecember 1978 – June 1979
Songwriter(s)Tom Bahler
Producer(s)Quincy Jones
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Off the Wall"
"She's Out of My Life"
Music video
"She's Out of My Life" on YouTube

"She's Out of My Life" is a song written by American songwriter Tom Bahler and performed by American singer Michael Jackson. The song was released as the fourth single from Jackson's 1979 album Off the Wall. In 2004, the song appeared in The Ultimate Collection. It peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the first time any solo artist had ever achieved four Top 10 hits from one album. In America, it earned a million-selling Gold 45. Unlike the album's previous singles, which were all uptempo dance-oriented funk and disco songs, "She's Out of My Life" was an emotional ballad. The song has a tempo of 66 beats per minute, making it one of Jackson's slowest songs.[1]

The song is about a painful breakup. It has been claimed that Bahler wrote the song about Karen Carpenter, whom Bahler had briefly dated. However, he has stated, "The fact is, I had already written that song by the time Karen and I became romantic. That song was written more about Rhonda Rivera... Rhonda and I had been together for two years, and it was after we broke up that I started dating Karen."[2]

The demo version of the song, which features Jackson singing with a guitar, was released on the second disc of the 2009 album Michael Jackson's This Is It. The song has also been covered by a variety of artists, including Patti LaBelle, Shirley Bassey, Ginuwine, 98°, S Club 7, Barbara Mandrell, Daniel Evans, Nina, Willie Nelson, Josh Groban, and Karel Gott.


Jones had originally intended to save the song for Frank Sinatra. However, he wanted Jackson to record material with more mature themes and "feel the full range of his voice," so he decided to bring the song to Jackson's attention.[3]

A poignant moment in the song occurs near the end when Jackson begins to break down in tears as he sings the word "life". Although he had attempted to record the song's last few moments with emotional restraint, after numerous tries he continued to end the rendition the same - by breaking down in tears. Producer Quincy Jones subsequently let Jackson's tearful recording stand:

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.'

Quincy Jones, Off the Wall 2001 Special Edition, Quincy Jones Interview 3

In Jackson's autobiography, Moonwalk, he wrote that the song is about knowing that barriers separating him from others are seemingly easy to overcome, yet they cause him to miss out on what he really desires.[4] He said that he cried from the sudden effect of the words because "I had been letting so much build up inside me."[4] Particularly it reminded him of his feeling of being "so rich in some experiences while being poor in moments of true joy."[4] He worried about this feeling showing up on the song, but also felt "if it touched people's heartstrings, knowing that would make me feel less lonely."[4] He described making Off the Wall as "one of the most difficult periods of my life...I had very few close friends at the time and felt very isolated."[4] He would walk through his neighborhood, hoping to meet people who didn't know who he was, so he could meet "somebody who would be my friend because they liked me and needed a friend too, not because I was who I am."[4]

Release and reception[edit]

The song peaked at #10 in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100.[5] The single was even more successful in the UK and peaked at number 3 on the charts (the equivalent position reached by Off the Wall's debut single "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough").

Given the popular response to his emotional rendition, the song remained in Jackson's live set for many years.

Critical reception[edit]

AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the song an "overwrought ballad" but praised Jackson's "blindingly gifted" singing on the track.[6] Rolling Stone editor Stephen Holden praised: "The singer's ultradramatic phrasing, which takes huge emotional risks and wins every time, wrings the last drop of pathos from Tom Bahler's tear-jerker, "She's Out of My Life."[7]

Music video[edit]

A music video was produced to promote the song, which showed Michael in a blue-green shirt, dark pants, and sitting on a barstool with a spotlight shining behind him.[8] The video uses a split screen technique to simultaneously show Jackson from two different angles during the second and third verses. It was directed by Bruce Gowers, who also directed a similar video for Jackson's previous single "Rock with You." The video is shown far less frequently than Jackson's later videos, but it is included on the DVD box set Michael Jackson's Vision, marking its first DVD release. It was parodied in the Dr. PC Man video Three Minutes Hour Life.

Live performances[edit]

The song was performed during The Jacksons' Triumph Tour and Victory Tour. It was also performed on Jackson's Bad World Tour, the Dangerous World Tour, and the Royal Brunei concert, which also turned out to be the final live performance of the song, as whilst it was rehearsed for the History World Tour, it was removed from the setlist just before the tour began.[9] The song was also rehearsed as a duet with a female backup vocalist for the first "Michael Jackson & Friends" charity concert in Seoul, South Korea, but cancelled for the final performance, which took place ten years to the day before Jackson's death.

Usually during these performances, Jackson would bring a female audience member up on stage with him while performing the song.

The live performances of the song were featured on the Live at Wembley July 16, 1988, Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour, and Michael Jackson: Live at Wembley July 16, 1988 DVDs. Live audio is available in the Live at Wembley July 16, 1988 CD, included as a bonus on Bad 25, and the 1981 live album, The Jacksons Live!

Track listing[edit]

  1. "She's Out of My Life Official Video

U.S. single[edit]

  1. "She's Out of My Life" – 3:38
  2. "Get on the Floor" – 4:40


Weekly charts[edit]

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1980) Rank
Australia (Kent Music Report)[22] 162
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[23] 48
US Billboard Hot 100[24] 65
US Cash Box Top 100[25] 94


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[26] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone



Charting covers[edit]

Johnny Duncan and Janie Fricke recorded a duet version reworked as "He's Out Of My Life", and in 1980 their version reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.

Other recorded covers[edit]

Live covers[edit]

Parodies and references[edit]


  1. ^ The Complete Michael Jackson, International Music Publications Ltd, 1997, ISBN 1859094473, p77
  2. ^ Randy Schmidt (2012). Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1780381497.
  3. ^ "Special Commemorative Edition:Michael Jackson 1958-2009". TIME Magazine. July 2009. p. 32.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Jackson, Michael (2009) [First published 1988]. Moonwalk. Random House. pp. 163–164. ISBN 0-307-71698-8.
  5. ^ - Search Results - She's out of My Life (Singles chart). Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved on 2008-08-15.
  6. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Off the Wall - Michael Jackson | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  7. ^ "Michael Jackson: Off The Wall : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". 1979-11-01. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  8. ^ "Michael Jackson - She's Out of My Life" (Youtube video). michaeljacksonVEVO. 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0209a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – She's Out of My Life". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  13. ^ a b " – Michael Jackson – She's Out of My Life" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 36, 1980" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  15. ^ " – Michael Jackson – She's Out of My Life". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  17. ^ "Michael Jackson - Chart History". Billboard Hot 100. for Michael Jackson. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 118.
  19. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending JUNE 28, 1980". Cash Box magazine. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 2016-06-22.
  20. ^ " – Michael Jackson – She's Out of My Life". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  22. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts - 1980s". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Official New Zealand Music Chart - End of Year Charts 1980". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  24. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1980". Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  25. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1980". Cash Box magazine. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  26. ^ "American single certifications – Michael Jackson – She's Out of My Life". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 22 June 2016. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  27. ^ "Miguel Covers Michael Jackson's 'She's Out Of My Life' At The Grammy Awards". 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  28. ^ Joe Lynch (2016-02-15). "2016 Grammys: Miguel Sings 'She's Out of My Life' in Honor of Michael Jackson". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  29. ^ C. G. Matera (2016-02-15). "Grammys 2016: Miguel Sings Michael Jackson's "She's Out of My Life"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-10-17.

External links[edit]