Remembering Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was a person of a specific time and place. From little Michael to Billy Jean  billie-jean-jackson_lMichael – there is probably no one else that I associate with the late 70’s to the mid 80’s than Michael. Right now MTV is running Michael Jackson videos all night long as if to say “thank you, because without you, we don’t exist.” If he didn’t invent MTV, he certainly made it viable.

I grew up listening to the music of the Jackson 5 and then the music of Michael Jackson. I remember hearing “Ben” on the radio when I was a child. Off the Wall came out when I was in middle school, and nothing seemed bigger than that – until Thriller was released. When I hear people say they’re not fans – I don’t think they realize that in that day and age, there wasn’t a choice. I’m sure even the punks looked at him perform the moonwalk and wondered how. Some things you don’t love or hate – they simply are a part of the fabric. This was Michael Jackson.

I know that in recent years Michael grew more eccentric and the allegations of child molestation forever took the gloss off of his image, but that doesn’t take away from what he did as an entertainer. His contributions are just too great for that.

I’m still shocked at today’s news, but I’m not surprised it happened – if that makes sense. Michael old-michael-jacksonwas my generation’s Elvis, and as such we probably should have expected that we would leave too early. The decent into the Michael of the past few years only serves as to provide a stark comparison to what he once was. And just like Elvis, they will be playing his music for generations.

Thank you Michael for providing a soundtrack for my childhood.

8 thoughts on “Remembering Michael Jackson

  1. Found out about Jackson’s death while in line waiting to get into Wilco’s concert at the Wiltern yesterday.

    Too bad he grew up in such a fucked up family…look at Joe, LaToya, Jermaine, Janet…practically nobody in the Jackson family emerged unscathed.

    I liked the early Jackson 5 stuff for what it was…harmless pop.
    The first two Michael albums were the best; “Off the Wall” especially. Still think that holds up better than “Thriller”.

    But “Bad” is where he lost the plot, jumped the shark. His megalomania and his plastic surgery started getting out of control. In retrospect it is clear that Quincy Jones played a large part of Jackson’s musical success as Michael never was as good when he left Quincy.

    And then he became a freak show…and I refuse to feel bad or sorry about his death. Who I do feel sorry for are those kids he molested…and his own kids whose custody will now probably be fought over in court.

  2. You don’t need to feel bad for Michael. You should feel bad for the people that grew up listening to a Michael that was different than the one who we’ve seen over the past few years. I’ve tried to draw distinction between the man and the music.

    Michael was the first black mega-superstar. He led the way for the Obamas Denzels, and Will Smiths of the world. It took Michael Jackson to get more black representation on MTV.

    Michael grew into someone who was somewhere in between odd and distasteful. I hate the fact that he turned into such a weird, bad person. But that doesn’t allow me to ignore the contributions he made. The world is full of plenty of flawed people who have gone on to do something of value. Woody Allen and Roman Polanski still make movies. Jerry Lee Lewis’ music still gets played. O.J. Simpson is still regarded as one of the best football players ever lived. There is room to feel loss for what Michael contributed musically.

  3. You see that’s the thing, I have a hard time thinking he was all that groundbreaking…and the whole “King of Pop” thing, besides being self-appointed and self-serving, was just obnoxious.

    The first black megastar? I don’t know, I remember me and a bunch of other white kids in my neighborhood thinking James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and Stevie Wonder were all cool as fuck…and this was when Michael Jackson was barely out of diapers.

    Even now as CNN and others are droning on about Michael’s “Beat It” bridging the rockers and blacks, I am thinking about how Prince was playing rock in the late-70’s when Michael was just figuring out what to do with a girl.

    Yeah, he was a great dancer, although stylistically limited. He could be a good singer when he wanted to, although again he developed those annoying tics and mannerisms later in his career. He came up with a some good records, “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” will always be classics, even if they paved the way for the crap pop stars of today(Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake)…but he hasn’t come up with diddly since leaving Quincy, which if anything should make Quincy Jones the “King of Pop”.

    His music became more robotic and soulless after “Thriller”, as his face became more alien and less human. The less said about his stupid statues and uniforms and “fashion” the better.

    Sad thing is with his talent, he could have been better, he could have developed artistically. In this regard, and in many other ways, he really is our generation’s Elvis Presley. A man who could have been so much more but frittered it away and turned himself into a gargoyle and his life into a circus freakshow.

    But to me, and to many devoted music fans, Michael Jackson’s music, while having its merits, doesn’t measure up to the true genre and barrier breakers of our time.

    I will reach for Jackie Wilson, Prince, P-Funk, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and countless others before I pick up a Michael Jackson record.

  4. I think you’re allowing your distaste for him to prevent you from dispassionately look at what he was. None of the people you mentioned are in the same league in a stardom sense as MJ. All of those artists you listed, I would put almost all of them ahead of MJ in a critical acclaim sense. What you need to do is put yourself in the time of 1982-1984 when MJ was at his height. Are you really telling me that Aretha has had that much worldwide attention and adoration at any given point? A black woman from the 50’s?

    Michael Jackson was the first black artist to be played on MTV. Michael Jackson was the first artist to have #1 hits on the R&B lists and the pop list at the same time. Your Prince statement is ridiculous – because I remember Prince in the late 70’s – and Prince wasn’t someone that most rock fans knew (and stop thinking of your white friends – think of the average, less worldly fan). Beat It had Eddie Van Halen playing guitar. The impact of that along with the biggest star in the world at that time is incomparable.

    Finally – his career didn’t take place in a 6 year period of time from 1978-1984. His career began in 1967. There are so many artists whose best years are behind them – U2, The Who, The Rolling Stones, etc. Hell – please tell me what Aretha and Stevie have done in the past few years? That doesn’t diminish what they are.

    You may not like his music – but to ignore his impact is pure denial. You need to just admit that you don’t like him, and because of this you won’t give him his due.

  5. Spencer, you’re right, plus there’s more, especially in regard to the ‘limited’ dancing comment.

    It is well known that while other ‘professionals’ getting their bit pieces in his videos / concerts would have to work hours to get their steps and moves right, Michael would come in and have everything perfect for the entire performance.

    That is just part of his incredible talent. It is so rare for someone to have such innate abilities, especially when combined with an obvious incredible voice beginning at such a young age. That type of pairing just doesn’t happen, and it isn’t something easily achievable even if you spend your life devoted to those arts.
    .-= Michael Jackson Funeral´s last blog ..Michael Jackson Funeral Tickets Only for US Residents =-.

  6. Great post, and yeah, you really can’t know what it was like unless you lived through 82 and 83, “Thriller” every where you turned — I can’t see that happening today.
    .-= Nik´s last blog ..What a maverick! =-.

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