Friday, June 26, 2009
To the Man in the Mirror
My first memory of Michael Jackson was in the living room of my neighbors. They were twins. We were all about 4 or 5. They brought out a record (everyone still had record players, it was 1982). They told me all about the great MJ, how the picture on the back with a leopard was his own leopard and that this cool guy wearing the nice white suit had a zoo in the back of his house. Then they put it on and started playing the best, creepiest, most awesome music I'd ever heard. Thriller.
We were all in dance classes at that age. I took ballet and tap from another neighbor who had a studio in her basement, but older girls got to do jazz. We couldn't tap or do ballet to this stuff. That' would be ridiculous. So we made up our own jazz moves to the song. We were 5 and didn't really know what we were doing. I vaguely remember us all falling down, pretending we were dead at the end (you know, when the guy starts maniacally laughing).
I remember every song on the album made me want to move. We acted out "The girl is mine", "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" and listened to it over and over and over again that afternoon.
Not long after that my older brother would introduce me to Weird Al Jankovich's "Just Eat It".
It's not surprising to me that Twitter and Facebook are overloaded with talk about the late, great MJ. The prime social media demographic just so happens to be the age group that would have been Michael's prime audience and would have felt his rock effect the most. Children and teens of the 80's, all aching for something "Bad" and yearning for something different. Michael Jackson transcended all races and barriers and was born with the God-given talents and at the perfect time to do just that. We didn't think of him as a black kid from Motown. We thought of him as the King of Pop and a musician of Epic proportions.
Incidentally, Thriller, my first and favorite album I ever knew from MJ, was preserved by the Library of Congress, as it was deemed "culturally significant" and Rolling Stone said it was one of the top ranked albums of all time in 2003.
Michael, you had your troubles, you were a bit eccentric and we weren't sure what was going on all the time, but you were a musical master and affected an entire generation of children in the 80's with your genius. You will be missed.