26 June 2009

In Memoriam

I know yesterday saw the deaths of two icons. But, at heart, I'm a musician and an entertainer so I have my bias. You will forgive me that (because it's my blog).

Michael Jackson, in his later years, was a target of ridicule and law suits. Perhaps it was justified, perhaps it wasn't. For the record, I have made my fair share of pedophilia jokes. Even counting all of that, Michael Jackson rises amongst the highest firmament of entertainment stardom. His songwriting, his singing, and/or his dancing has inspired countless performers after him. And his album Thriller is the best selling album of all time ... ever ... in the entire world, if not universe. He knew how to write. He knew how to sing. He knew how to dance. If he could have fit acting and ending war in there, then we'd call him a god.

Yet he is a god. He climbed to heights of fame and fortune and popularity that many of us aspire, in some fashion or another. He was not just America's, like Elvis ... he was the world's. He could weather any storm and still be loved.

And his music.

MJ was a musical genius. His songwriting. His ability to capture a hook. The way he could manipulate you into empathizing with the message he was trying to put across.

And his showmanship, to include his dancing and stage presence. What? It's been ages since you've seen him perform? You're too young to remember? Well, sift through these videos and witness the man who has inspired so many entertainers you see today. When he danced, MJ defied the laws of physics. I remember the first time the world saw the "Moonwalk". There was a universal gasp, followed by "How the F*CK did he DO that?!"

He wasn't perfect. But then, who among us is. What he was was good at what he did. And what he did was bring some joy and some magic into our lives. And that, my faithful readers, is enough to take a moment and reflect on who we are and what we are doing to influence those around us.

I mourn the loss of another innovator. I mourn the loss of another musical genius. I mourn the loss of another entertainer who will inspire another generation to keep the arts alive. I know you mourn with me.

I will leave you with the first popular music video (or popular music anything) my father and I shared. I don't quite remember how old I was ... perhaps twelve or thirteen ... but I remember being up way too late on a school night. I remember sitting in the living room with my dad. Just the two of us. I remember MTV being on, which was a major oddity in my house. And I remember this video coming on. My dad said something along the lines of, "This guy's a bit of a fruit. And I don't like this song ... it's pretty demonic. But he can sure dance." And he and I watched the entire video. It was the first time that my parents implicitly let me enjoy secular music. It was the first time I was permitted to enjoy modern music openly that I had enjoyed privately with my oldest brother. It was the first time I was introduced to the music of Michael Jackson.



Basilio Bocalan said...

I remember being 11 years old, and being allowed along with my sisters to stay up late with my parents to watch the premier of the video for "Black or White"...we were all moved.

I remember saving my birthday money and my parents taking me to the mall to buy his "Dangerous" cassette...with my father being more excited than I was.

No other artist in this whole planet can do what he did...and that was bringing every race together...bringing together the whole world with music, and making them care.

He is irreplaceable...and there are no words to describe the depth of how much he will be missed.

novadj61 said...

i was eight years old on a sunday night in 1969, when the jackson five sang 'i want you back' on the ed sullivan show. believe it or not, i KNEW that night, that i wanted to be an entertainer for the rest of my life.

my sister (two years younger) and i talked and she said she almost felt like michael was family. i agreed because we were so close in age. there were'nt many if any kids performing back then, especially not black kids.

we sat in our apartment in southeast dc (parklands) on pillows on the floor so close to the tv you could almost feel the heat from it and for that 2:30, we felt like the most important two kids in the world.

40 years later, i am STILL an incredibly huge michael jackson fan and his passing has completely broken my heart.

yes, in the latter years, he was somewhat bizarre, but what do you expect when you take a five year old kid off the baseball field and put him on stage to SERVE the entire world for the rest of his life without ever having the benefit of growing up or having a private life that we all take for granted?

yet, we choose not to focus on his sacrifice. we focus on the negative, adn yes i have been guilty of a joke or two myself, but ANYONE who knows me botha as a person and an artist will tell you that when asked, i will tell anyone that michael jackson was one of my biggest influences, and even in death, he continues to influence me and inspire me as i aspire to be even .0000000001% of the talent that he was/is. may he forever rest in peace and maybe, HOPEFULLY, now everyone can listen to his song "leave me alone" where he says, "just stop doggin me around.......

rest in peace michael, and thank you robbie for being you and writing this....