Michael Jackson (1958 -2009)
There will never be another. I remember my first cassette tape. That incredible “Dangerous” album. Sure I indulged in Bonjovi, Richard Marx, Mariah and Whitney for a bit. But nothing could ever compare with the energy I felt as a 10 year old at the time, moving to the syncopated grooves of Music essentially. There is no genre that could box it in because it is the source which every song you hear on the radio today has evolved from.
It wasn’t just the moves. It’s the voice. I’ve seen a lot of MJ dancing competitions and I must admit there were a few that could do a pretty decent impersonation. It’s when they try to attempt to sing like him, that’s when it all went horribly wrong. That lead me to always tell others “Look, I know there are many who could dance at least close to how he did it. But please, don’t even try to sing like him.” Simon Cowell would agree, always ready to dismiss anyone who has the audacity to touch that holy ground. David Cook of course, was bold as hell and actually took that iconic song to a different level.
It wasn’t just “Black or White” or “Remember the Time”, mind you (though I remembered all their lyrics). I could dance practically to every tune in that album because they all simply move you. From slow, off-beat bass lines with smooth guitar riffs to soaring anthems crying for change in the world. And the MTVs. Oh the MTVs. They were ahead of everything everyone else had to offer at that time. Tracking back, “Thriller” was the first ever to incorporate a story line around any music really. As it turned out, it became the biggest selling pop album of all time.
And yes, I even bought the video game – “Moonwalker” based on the movie. White suits never looked so sauve. I would be lost in a world where I’m MJ, killing zombies with the fling of my hat and saving Annie from the clutches of the Enemy. Of course, doing so while hearing my favourite tunes in the background.
I would attempt to walk backwards but fail every time. I always wondered how in “Smooth Criminal”, he and his hypnotized henchmen could lean into such an inexplicable angle. I tried that and nearly fall flat on my face. In the end, I’ll just settle for the crouch-holding and double (sometimes triple) spin moves that’s just a trademark of what the King does. There are symbols that you see in his performance, slowly drawing you in and building up that anticipation to his next song – the hat, the single white glove that seemed to wield magic, the shoes, silhouettes of his frame moving behind the curtain.
There is always something that seemed to depict the man as untouchable. That he belonged to the musical gods and we could only hope to get a healing touch from a brief touch with his robes. For me, there was a kind of release in this songs, where he expresses his beliefs, his view of life and his stories. He wanted a better world because for all that the world did to him, he was like anyone of us – flawed, insecure and incomplete. He thirst for Love while struggling to express his in a meaningful way. He kept wanting to live in that child-like fantasy world that never happened for him. Perhaps until today, he still wished for something or someone that would make him a little more whole.
For all that you have done for me Michael, thank you. You will always be the King. Gave me songs to navigate around my formative years and showed me how to groove. And you always did it in style. It doesn’t matter what the young punks are saying these days (they don’t know any better), you’ll always be a part of us and one of us.
A child of God.