I have made much about the significance of music in my life. What I don’t think I’ve said in this blog is that Michael Jackson was the start of all of that.
The soundtrack of my first year of life was “Thriller.” My mom likes to say that my dad played the album for me over and over again. My dad still has that original album in his home.
Bad. Beat It. Thriller. Billie Jean. P.Y.T. It was just over and over again. Michael Jackson was the summer. Was as family parties. He was at barbecues. Baseball games. He was always there.
Michael Jackson was my very first crush. And that guy, that one pictured on the cover of Thriller, is the Michael of my memory.
Each album, each song, each music video premiere. It’s strangely odd that I can tell you where I first heard them. I remember the first time I saw the “Black or White” video. The awe I had when I first saw the premiere of “Remember the Time.” How transfixed I was by “The Way You Make me Feel.” The way my brothers and I would play “Smooth Criminal” in slow motion over and over again.
I was in awe of “Billie Jean” primarily because the floor lit up. I played the “Dangerous” album on cassette so many times that I destroyed it. I wrote about “Jam.” I loved “She Drives me Wild.”
I used his songs to teach. I played them in my classrooms. The Jackson 5 were a soundtrack to my Geometry classes. I let my students dance to his music.
His music has been such a big part of my life that my little brother had my mom call me last night to make sure I was okay.
When I first heard the news, I was shocked, of course. I listened to all of these people sharing stories, and I realized how powerful this man was. We were all at that moment sharing the same emotion and shock.We all had the same memories. We all felt that his songs were “ours.” That is the genius of this man. It’s a hard thing to wrap my head around because he will inevitably live on forever in his music and that is comfort to us. But it pains me that he doesn’t get that same earthly comfort. I feel though that perhaps his soul will gain more peace now than he ever could have here.
It’s just so sad to have such a large part of the collective American soul gone. And sadder so that as I replay each song and re-watch these music videos, it’s almost as though a part of my childhood died with him.
Rest in peace, Michael.