Sep 032017
 

from THE WIZ

written by Charlie Smalls

 

 

The Wiz was the 1978 film adaptation directed by Sidney Lumet of the successful 1975 Broadway musical of the same name. The musical was a modernized reworking of The Wizard Of Oz in an urban, Afro-American setting. Quincy Jones was in charge of the film’s soundtrack that was nominated for an Academy Award.

The theme song from The Wiz was an irresistible dance ditty titled “Ease On Down The Road.” Produced by Q with Tom Bahler, “Ease On Down The Road” was sung by the movie’s two stars, the late Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 to June 25, 2009) and the great pop/r&b songbird Diana Ross. The tune was composed by Charlie Smalls who was responsible for the bulk of the movie’s score. It was an r&b reinterpretation of two compositions, “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” and “We’re Off To See The Wizard,” from the 1939 film version ofThe Wizard Of Oz. The Wiz marked the first collaboration between the late King of Pop and Jones that would soon blossom into masterpieces like Off The Wall and Thriller.

On this project, Jones enlisted a host of session aces including a young, already skilled David Foster who played piano on “Ease On Down The Road.” Here’s how co-producer Bahler remembered the genesis of that hit song in a recent interview:

“When we were getting ready for the first single off of The Wiz album, which was going to be “Ease On Down The Road,” we first cut the track in New York at night. We had David Foster on piano, Steve Gadd on drums and Anthony Jackson on bass. Foster came up with a great leak that really changed that song and gave it more of a pop feel.”

Foster’s pop sensibility was already top-notch and added a radio-friendly catchiness to the tune that was masterfully crafted by Jones and Bahler. The song, thanks to the two superstar’s fantastic vocal performances, reached the Top Twenty on the Hot Soul Singles at #17 and just missed the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 hitting the wall at #41. The soundtrack of The Wiz was a Top 40 hit on both Billboard’s Top 200 and on the Black Albums charts and was certified gold for sales of over 500,000 copies.


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Lead & Backing Vocals: Michael Jackson & Diana Ross
Drums: Steve Gadd
Bass: Anthony Jackson
Keyboards: David Foster
Guitar: Eric Gale
Percussion: Ralph McDonald

Produced by Quincy Jones & Tom Bahler


Lyrics

Ease on down
Ease on down the road
Ease on down
Ease on down the road
Ease on down
Ease on down the road
Come on Dorothy,
Don’t you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on
There it is!
Come on and ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on and ease on down, ease on down the road
Don’t you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road
Don’t you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on, ease on down, ease on down, down the road
Pick your left foot up
When your right foot’s down
Come on legs keep movin’
Don’t you lose no ground
You just keep on keepin’
On the road that you choose
Don’t you give up walkin’
‘Cause you gave up shoes, no
Ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road
Don’t you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road
‘Cause there maybe times
When you think you lost your mind
And the steps you’re takin’
Leave you three, four steps behind
But the road you’re walking
Might be long sometimes
You just keep on steppin’
And you’ll be just fine, yeah
Ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road
Don’t you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the
Oh, there maybe times
When you wish you wasn’t born
And you wake one morning
Just to find that your courage’s gone
But just know that feeling
Only last a little while
You just stick with us
And we’ll show you how to smile, yeah
Get ’em up, goin’ down, ease on down
Get ’em up, goin’ down, ease on down
Get ’em up, goin’ down, ease on down
Get ’em up, get ’em up, ease on down the road
Get ’em up, goin’ down, ease on down
Get ’em up, goin’ down, ease on down
Get ’em up, goin’ down, ease on down
Get ’em up, get ’em up, ease on down the road