As a kid I spent a lot of time with my older sister. Basically, because my mom was a single parent, my sister was stuck with me all of the time. A fact this older sister doesn’t like to talk about much anymore is that she was once obsessed with Michael Jackson.
I remember our special trip to the store to buy Dangerous the day it came out. It was also the day we bought our first CD player. I remember watching that famous Oprah interview at Netherland Ranch where he showed her how to do the Moon Walk. I remember being glued to the television for every video premiere. I remember one Halloween when we thought it would be a good idea to create our own haunted house and blast “Thriller” for hours on end.
I haven’t thought much about Michael Jackson in recent years, but a series of random occurrences brought me back to him this week. The result was me downloading all of his greatest hits and listening to them on repeat for days on end. Guy was a musical genius and his work stands the test of time.
I never know how to comment on music. It moves me on some level that I’ve never found the words to express. Generally I veer toward the depressing, introspective kind of music you’d expect from the author of this blog, but there is a giant hole in my heart that only pop music can fill and the King of Pop himself is taking up most of that space right now.
I mean, what can I say about Michael Jackson’s music that you don’t already know? It’s just good. It’s beyond catchy, but the lyrics are also really interesting. “P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)” inspired yesterday’s post on ridiculous acronyms. “Bad” made me want to pop the collar of my jean jacket as I walked through the library today. “Man in the Mirror,” which I always thought was “Man in the Middle” when I was a kid, makes me want to be a better person in the cheesiest way possible. “Human Nature” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” make me feel restless. “The Way You Make Me Feel” just makes me smile. “Will You Be There” makes me want to watch Free Willy. “Remember the Time” makes me wish they still made music videos like they used to. “Dirty Diana,” “Billie Jean,” and “Smooth Criminal” make me realize how much went over my head as a kid. And, “You are Not Alone” makes me want to curl up into the fetal position and cry.
I know Michael Jackson’s later life often overshadows his music, especially for new generations. I’m not for separating genius from crazy, professional from personal, or early from late. You have to look at people in their complexity and that’s usually messy. My favorite authors are mostly alcoholic reclusives if they aren’t misogynists who abandoned their families. My favorite philosophers and theologians? Mostly adulterers. Even Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized large portions of his dissertation, which happened to be about a brilliant theologian with a habit of sleeping with undergraduates. We know so little about Jesus’ life, who knows what he was up to? What can you say? No one deserves a pedestal. Doesn’t mean they have nothing to contribute.
I’m just saying, take a little time this weekend to walk down memory lane. And, hey, if you’ve been looking for some new workout music, you just found it. If you’re feeling more introspective, listen to “Man in the Mirror” and question everything about your life. If you’ve had a rough week, consider “Leave Me Alone.” If you just want to have a good weekend, go for “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” or something.