No matter what you think of him, his work, or his life, Michael Jackson did make an impact on the world and most of our memory banks.
I remember having a poster in my room when I was a kid. Michael Jackson was wearing a yellow sweater vest. Was I a fanatic? No, not that I recall. I don’t remember screaming, breaking into hysterics, or feeling like I was going to pass out when Michael Jackson’s music was on the radio or when he made an appearance on TV.
I just liked the music. In fact, I liked it so much that the first fan letter I ever wrote was to Michael Jackson. It was a ridiculous letter. I specifically remember asking MJ what he was saying at the beginning of PYT. It was a pressing question for a kid, especially since the interwebz were not invented yet and you had to seek the information out from a reliable source. “Dear Michael, What are you mumbling at the beginning of PYT?” Seriously, that’s part of the letter I wrote.
Speaking of “Dear Michael,” do you remember when Kim Fields, aka Tootie from the Facts of Life, had a song out with that very title? It was about Michael Jackson. Here’s a link to a video. I can’t stomach watching it but maybe you can.
Anyway, back to the music. I also remember the Jackson 5. I loved the Jackson 5 and still do. While most of their songs were produced before I was even a thought in my parents’ brain, I was somehow introduced to their music early on in life. Easily some of the best songs were I’ll be There and I Want You Back. That remake of Rockin’ Robin was pretty great, too. As I kid, I had no idea what these songs were about, nor did I care, I just enjoyed the way they sounded. As an adult, I still have a Jackson 5 greatest hits tape in my car for when the mood strikes.
In my piano-playing days (or daze), my teacher liked giving me pop songs to play from time to time. My big Michael Jackson hit was Ben. When it was handed to me, I had no idea how this song went and didn’t know it was about a rat until someone told me… or that it was a big solo hit for MJ when he was just 13 years old. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) I really had no appreciation for the song until I learned how to play it. While I can’t say it was one of my favorites, I’m glad I learned it, though I still wonder why I wasn’t hip enough to play something from The Wiz.
After a while, I just lost interest in MJ and I moved on to a legitimate obsession with New Kids on the Block, but his music lived on and so did the random memories I have of him and his influence.
Do you remember these any of things? Say, Say, Say with Paul McCartney. Rock with You, one of my faves. Weird Al’s parodies of MJ’s songs. The Moonwalk. The Pepsi commercial. Alfonso Ribiero imitating MJ. Corey Feldman dressing like MJ. The Way You Make Me Feel, another fave. The random scene of him in one of his videos destroying that car with a baseball bat. Macaulay Culkin rapping in part of Black or White. That dang song from the Free Willy movie that my crazed neighbor used to karaoke until 2 in the morning.