Sunday, June 28, 2009

Music of the Soul-Michael Jackson

Music of the Soul is back and of course I am starting with Michael Jackson.

There is too much to even say. I have always been a fan. My earliest memories of his music were learning his moves and listening to tapes with my cousins Rozlin and Johanna. They were older and my sister and I were their human barbie dolls. The two of them would dress us up, style our hair and do our makeup. Then they would teach us the lyrics and dance moves to "Beat It" and we would be sent upstairs to perform our "show" for the adults. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard of and saw a photo of Michael my Aunt Laurie's bedroom using her curling iron. Roz and Johanna were having a debate over who liked him more. I must have been 7 and my cousins were my idols. For them to be obsessed with a boy meant he must be the coolest person ever. I was hooked.

Now I will never forget the day that I heard he had passed away. I guess he was so much a part of American culture as I have come to know it that I never thought of him not being in the world anymore. I don't remember a party that I've been to that one of his songs hasn't been played and I don't think I will ever stop trying to do the moonwalk.

No matter what opinion you have of his eccentricities and the controversy surrounding him, there is no denying he is a legend. He contributed to over 39 different charities throughout his career by raising and donating millions of dollars and using his larger than life persona to draw attention to some of the most important issues of the 80's and 90's. His dancing completely mesmerizes me and even though every radio and television station has been playing his videos and songs non stop for almost 3 days, I still can't get enough.

What I love about the music is that each of my favorite songs triggers very distinct memories for me. I absolutely love the earlier material from the Jackson 5 days. "I Want You Back" will always remind me of my very first summer job: blueberry picking with my sister and my friend Caitlin. We learned every word and tried to choreograph our own dance to it that summer. I cry every time I hear "Man in the Mirror". And "Thriller" and "Beat It" are on every playlist for every party I have ever thrown. I was in total awe by the video for "Bad". I don't know that I can actually pick a favorite but "Heal the World", "Ben" and "Bad" and "Dirty Diana" would be in my top 10. And though I love Thriller, the album that launched him into super stardom, I think my personal favorite album is Bad. His performances have, and always will be, incomparable and the passion he brought to not just music but to everything he did is overwhelming. I have never been too much into live music (mainly because the crowds get to me) but he will be the one entertainer I will regret never seeing live.

His life was an absolute mystery, full of passion and secrecy. Media scrutiny, adoration, obsession, accusations and criticism. Creepiness and hopefulness. Curiosity and love. By the end it seemed as if he was creating a fairy tale world for himself to escape into with a dark, tragic ending. I can't wait for Tim Burton to make a film about his life. I know that biopics are not Burton's forte but what a great project that would be!

What an amazing entertainer, what an amazing talent, what an amazing life, what an amazing legacy. The King of Pop will be missed!

My sister and I performing at my Aunt's house 1994


burnt mayonaisse. said...

i have a very similar memory. at my nanas house my cousin jenn would take me to the basement and teach me dance moves and bring me back up stairs and have me perform for the family. ill never forget this one time they were taping me and i did this whole michael jackson thing and walked away all 'smooth' and walked back into the room and did the MJ scream and crotch grab and the family was in tears they thought it was so funny.

burnt mayonaisse. said...

OH! I ALSO remember my aunt carrie was a young teen when i was about 8 or so..maybe younger and her ENTIRE ceiling was covered with michael jackson trading cards (this was the first time i saw his face as well) corner to corner. i remember asking who he was and her gushing and having me listen to his music and me (being the non stop dancer that i am) was like yeaaaaaaa this is good stuff and we danced and bounced on her bed. then probably got in trouble for it.

Amber said...

I hear you. It didn't matter that I was only 6 or 7...that music just made you want to dance. I never had cable growing up so I only saw music videos at my friend's an cousin's houses. But that didn't stop my sister and I from inventing our own music videos and choreography. Of course we always put in the basics: the crouch grab an the attempted moonwalk.

Amber said...

P.S. I'd love to see that video if they still have it, that sounds adorable!