Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic"

"A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile..."

I had the Thriller LP growing up. Vinyl. 33 1/3 RPM. Played it so much that it skipped terribly. Still I continued to listen so often that I knew all the places it skipped and could still sing right along without missing a beat. Well, without missing any additional beats.

By the time Bad was released, I had progressed to cassettes, and bought it the first day it came out. I transcribed the lyrics to every song onto loose leaf notebook paper and I'm sure I had them all memorized within a week.

I know I've mentioned this before, but as a kid, I would imitate Michael Jackson at holidays and family gatherings. Mom would put on the Thriller album. I would leave the room, wait for the music to start, and emerge with a dizzying array of movements and yelps.

I had a Michael Jackson poster hanging in my room. Specifically, this one. In sixth grade, I begged for and got a zippered pleather jacket. I also may or may not have tried to go to school multiple mornings wearing just one glove. One black glove, as Mom wouldn't buy me a white sequined glove.

When I was 12 or 13, I won tickets from a radio station to The Jacksons Victory Tour in Knoxville. Mom and I rode a chartered bus six hours one way with all the other winners. I don't remember a lot about that concert, but I remember that I was there. I got to see him.

In later years, I remained a fan of his music. I vividly remember when I was a Freshman in college, seemingly every morning for weeks, the same car would drive down the road in front of the student center blaring "Remember The Time." I bought the History double album. And several years later, I got the Number Ones CD for Christmas.

I never thought about how I would feel if Michael Jackson died. Even when I first turned on the TV Thursday afternoon, after I'd awoken from a nap to a voice mail from Mom telling me the news, I still wasn't sure how I would or should feel.

Then after a few minutes and with no warning whatsoever, tears came. And I knew. I felt sadness. Nothing but deep sadness.

For the rest of Thursday night and part of Friday, at random times I would find myself on the verge of tears, having to gather myself for a couple of seconds before I could speak. I wondered why this was affecting me so much.

I think almost as much as his death, I mourn because of sad and troubled his life so often seemed. And maybe selfishly, I also mourn the loss of a part of my youth.

Michael Jackson was my generation. His star burned as bright and white hot as any ever did. He was our Elvis. When a star like that burns out, there is darkness--an empty space that is never filled. And also the reminder of our own mortality.

But before that, there was music. And moonwalking.

And it was magic.

"I spread my wings for greener pastures. I still ain't found what I was after. I got the blues and that is why I sing. I just want to do my thing. I'm goin' back to Indiana. Indiana, here I come..."


  1. Even as recently as last year, I knew a child who took to wearing one glove and moon-walking down the corridor. He was timeless in that way.

    Mostly, I just felt - still feel - very sorry for him. Every time I saw any kind of interview with him, I just thought, that's not a well man. I was never a huge fan - which isn't to say there aren't some songs that I really like or that I don't appreciate how good he is - but still it feels like the end of an era.

  2. Hugs!
    I think it is the mystery of the man that keeps drawing me to read & watch all the reports that are coming out now. I tried to watch some on The Insider last night, but then DD came in the room and I felt that some of the material wasn't something she should see.
    We spent a good chunk of Friday watching Weird Al videos of MJ's songs. So when The Insider showed parts of the BAD video, DD had to sing "I'm Fat!"
    I guess we can all be thankful for the music he has left us. I hope he is finally at peace.

  3. I will never deny his talent. His music is contagious, and you can't help but dance when you hear it. I feel so terribly sorry for his children (and yet, no one in the media seems to be concerned about their well-being), and I feel even more saddened by all that is yet to come with this saga. There is no doubt in my mind that we are lucky to mourn him now because when the skeletons are thrown and pitched from the closets, we may not wish to do so.

  4. Good post. I was surprised by how saddened I was, given that it's been so long since I'd really thought about him. When I was a little kid, The Jackson Five had their own cartoon on Saturday mornings, which I loved. When Thriller came out, I believe everyone in my entire dorm crammed into the TV lounge to watch the video for the first time on MTV. He was fascinatingly talented, but also easy to poke fun of--Eddie Murphy, esp, had a field day with him--and I couldn't help laughing, I'll admit that. Michael was everywhere in the 80s, and the attentions of comedians and Weird Al were actually a sort of tribute to his presence.
    Michael still has presence, obviously.

  5. I am a rock music fanatic. But MJ's music was one constant in my life. I was first introduced to him in 1982 by my brother. I never looked back.

    I absolutely adored his music and his dance movements.

    Hope he is moonwalking up there spreading happiness with his music.

    Can you believe it, I felt so sad as if I fave had a personal loss. He made that much of impact. All over the world.

  6. Nicely written. Elvis was my mother's loss... I was a bit too old to be enamored with MJ, maybe John Lennon was my generation's lost. Too often child stars have troubled lives.

  7. He was a wonderful showman. Hopefully now that he is gone people will leave the negative speculation alone and just remember the musician.

  8. J Adamthwaite - I agree. It seems strange to say you feel sorry for someone who was so popular, successful, and made so much money. But I did.

    Renee - Yes, there's a lot of mystery. A lot that we don't know and understand and probaby never will.

    My cousin had the 45rpm of "Eat It."

    Yeah, I hope has the peace that he never seemed to be able to find on this side.

    Marina - You can't help but think about his children. Hopefully, there's not a long, ugly custody battle.

    Actonbell - given that it's been so long since I'd really thought about him

    Me, too. That's a good way to put it. Yeah, if anyone doubted whether he still had presence and popularity, I think those doubts have been erased.

    Gautami - That's about the time I remember first hearing him, too. I think the first song I remember is "Wanna Be Startin' Something." Then over time, I discovered his older music with the Jackson 5 and his early solo career.

    His worldwide appeal was amazing.

    Sage - I was alive when Elvis and Lennon died, but I don't really remember either one. For some reason, I remember Bear Bryant as being the bigger loss in my family.

    PennyCandy - I fear that may be wishful thinking. But I have been pleasantly surprised by most of the coverage so far.

  9. I'm glad you cried. Not in a mean way, but in a "I'm-glad-I'm-not-the-only-cry-baby" kind of way.

    It's so sad. Just sad.

  10. I too have had times that I just have to take a deep breath and gather myself. A part of our childhood is gone. He was an amazing musician and performer. I have had to stop reading online news and comments. People are absolutely horrible sometimes. Celebrating someone's death is lower than low.

    As others have said, I feel terribly sorry for him. Despite his success there was such a troubled man.

    Thank you for your post. It is refreshing to read that there are others who appreciate that the world has lost an icon.

  11. Bone, what a wonderful tribute to this amazing artist. His life was both tragic and triumphant...he may be gone, but his music will live in our hearts forever. I do wonder if his soul was simply too fragile to remain in this cynical, cruel world any longer.

    I have also been surprised how strongly his death has affected me. In the words of Michael, "My goal in life is to give to the world what I was lucky to receive: the ecstasy of divine union through my music and my dance." He truly achieved his goal, and so many of us are incredibly thankful.

  12. Though he wasn't part of my childhood in the normal sense he became a part of everyone's childhood, as his music and what he did to and for it remained part of everything which came afterward.

  13. I second Sage though my parents actually did try to get me into Elvis, but they were too old and I was six in a world before two years olds could recite rock lyrics as their first words

  14. Cami - I'm glad I'm not the only one, as well. It is. Just sad.

    Kontan - Yeah, I've seen some of those. It's almost unfathomable how insensitive and moronic some people are. Thankfully, the outpouring of love, support, and tears has been far greater.

    Fledgling Poet - Interesting you should say that. My sister said something about how Michael Jackson just wasn't supposed to ever die. And while I know what she meant, I also had the thought that maybe some people just are never meant to get old in our eyes.

    Cooper - Very well said. His influence on all music that came after is immeasurable.

    Pia - So was Lennon huge for you? My Dad always loved The Beatles, but I can't remember how he reacted to Lennon being shot.

  15. I think almost as much as his death, I mourn because of sad and troubled his life so often seemed. And maybe selfishly, I also mourn the loss of a part of my youth.

    Michael Jackson was my generation. His star burned as bright and white hot as any ever did. He was our Elvis. When a star like that burns out, there is darkness--an empty space that is never filled. And also the reminder of our own mortality.

    But before that, there was music. And moonwalking.

    And it was magic.

    Some of the finest paragraphs you have ever written. I would hate your talent if I didn't love it and use it to spur me on

    I mean I'm not really big on jealousy especially when the ultra talented person won't submit :)

  16. Uh I'm the person who didn't like John Lennon, remember? His music yes but he and Yoko left me cold.

    Though I lived just across the park from the Dakota then and it was a memorable horrible event no it wasn't personally huge for me

  17. I've always wanted to see MJ in concert. It was one of those things I wanted to do before I died. :(
    I'm jealous you were able to see him in concert.

  18. the whole weekend- MJ was EVERYWHERE on the radio, on the TV, conversations with my friends, and yes, I too felt sad. Music (songs) mark so many events in our lives, and MJ touched on many because of the icon that he was and still is.

  19. I bawled like a baby. And, Bone, I adore you for admitting that you did, too.

  20. While I certainly didn't have the reaction to the event that you seem to have, nor can I imagine having it with an artist of my own generation, I do appreciate a blog post that is written from the heart. To me, it's very clear that you wrote this post for YOU, and I think those are the best.

  21. MJ's death is certainly a profound loss for the world. I was surprised to find myself teary eyed at his passing as I only listened to select songs of his. I can only hope he's able to rest in peace. Also hope the media can focus on the musician instead of the tumultuous life he carried with him.

  22. Did you see this?

    Seems like a positive tribute to him.

  23. so true bone.. I felt I grew up with MJ.(we are a year apart) I also wrote about him because His death left me feeling so sad and mournful for my younger days.
    I hope u have those imitations you did of him on video. they sound priceless.