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SoulBounce’s Top 50 Michael Jackson Songs: #35 ‘Ease On Down The Road’ Feat. Diana Ross

Don't you carry nothin'
That might be a load.

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How wonderful is it that after the Scarecrow is taken down from the pole by Dorothy in The Wiz he can not only walk but he can dance like, well, Michael Jackson? Though his performance of the cynic's anthem "You Can't Win" was stellar, it's his ability to swing in the polar opposite direction on the following first iteration of "Ease On Down the Road." Michael joins with Diana Ross on the joyous song about leaving all your baggage and moving on to something better.

Though this song is a recurring theme throughout the rest of the musical, later including Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man and Ted Ross as the Lion, Michael is hardly contained by the song. In fact, his vocal power is almost distracting on the song. The points where he and Diana are singing in unison prove that the, at the time, young man had really honed his range and was really falling into a stylistic groove. Michael was still working things out, though, and The Wiz served as a great laboratory.

Listening to "Ease On Down the Road" and the confidence in his voice, it's clear how just how differently Michael sang and acted the Scarecrow character. There was a lot vaudeville, a lot of Chaplain, on the screen. He was clumsy, goofy, shy, malleable and earnest. Until he started singing and dancing. As he and Dorothy dance up the yellow brick road he stumbles, he buckles his legs and then he does a series of tight, perfect pirouettes. At the same time he's stifling this enormous voice so as to not completely out-shine Dorothy/Diana.

"Ease On Down the Road" is Michael on the precipice of his astronomical solo fame. Off The Wall was released a year after the film premiered. He hadn't made a formula of his movement, but he was working toward its perfection. He hadn't completely refined his adult voice so he was looser and more open. It really is fun to listen to him working all of this out.


Michael Jackson and Diana Ross: "Ease On Down the Road"


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6 Responses

  1. I know I can't be the only person who visits this site that has this whole movie memorized lol.
    Even though Michael never lost his boyish qualities its so amazing watching this movie at a time when he probably didn't even realize how much more famous he would become.

  2. Just a slight correction to your title. I think you will find that Ease on Down is credited as Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, and I never felt Michael was trying not to outshine Diana. Infact when you watch Diana's Live concert footage (circa 1981), you will find (and hear) the joy in both their singing voices.
    Please put personal prejudices aside and tell it like it is. Their voices are very similar in tonation - check Eaten Alive or the 1st chorus of We Are The World) for proof.

  3. OMG RO!.....I love how you recognized the maturation & strengthening of his voice during this time & on this song. I CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH OF THOSE RIFFS HE DOES AT 2:22-2:34 AND AT 3:06-3:09!
    I'd say that from just a pure vocal standpoint, my favorite MJ era is from like 72 to 81. I mean I love every era but during those years its fun to hear how his adult voice develops and becomes so soulful, funky, & flexible (just beautiful overall). I'm talking about songs like "Music's Takin' Over," "You Can't Win," "Blame It On The Boogie," just to name a few. And damn I love "Push Me Away" too.

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