|As I See It 8-12
Sunday, July 5, 2009
He was already a well known performer when I was born. He and his family captured the ears of many people and did not let go. I only heard bits and pieces of their uprising in the music world. It was not until I visited relatives in Maryland that began to really hear what others had been hearing for a while. It was the summer of 1983. My cousin put on the Thriller album. Yes one of those flat, black circles with groves on it that somehow mysteriously made sound when put on a record player. It seems foreign and archaic thinking about it now. I remember thinking of all the emotional changes that were through the album. My cousin and I listen to the whole thing from beginning to end several times throughout my short stay at her house.
Shortly after this music rediscovery of a man I knew very little about another phenomenon happened. With the addition of cable TV came something that mesmerized me. A channel devoted to the visualization of songs. There was a time before ‘reality’ shows that the Music Television network showed music videos. I would have to say one of the most life changing things to happen to me is when I discovered MTV being piped in to my desolate town from a world that was completely foreign to me. Michael Jackson and MTV was a perfect match, definitely a symbiotic relationship. Coming home from school was filled with strangely curious excitement coupled with great anticipation of what new treasures will come on the screen. Michael Jackson was able to create wonderful visualizations to his already stirring music. I found myself alone in my living room eagerly awaiting another glimpse of the glitz, of the energy, of the seemingly magical dance moves. I am not embarrassed to go as far as to say Michael Jackson helped me learn to dance. I was not confident, lanky, and awkward. Yet, somehow through that magical picture box I was able to have a sense of confidence when I would learn some of his wonderful dance moves.
To say Mr. Jackson was innovative would be an understatement. An example of being ahead of his time is the music video for the song Thriller. There was a festival of some sort in the small town of Oscoda where people were selling their wares, there were rides and foods. It was like a carnival. I was there with my mother and my sister. A man had a booth with just a table, a television that was mostly encased with cardboard to obstruct the view and another new fangled piece of equipment called a video cassette recorder / player. The sign simply said “Michael Jackson’s Music Video Thriller, $10.” The man warned that it was a disturbing video and suggested strongly that young ones probably should not watch the video. I begged my mother relentlessly for her to pay the fee so that I may watch the video. She put up a great protest with the support of the man, which may have been a marketing ploy on his part. The more they protested the more I had to see what was within the cardboard makeshift screen and on that tape. I was blown away watching the short film visual interpretation a song that already moved me in a way that I did not quite understand. Now years later the dancing that was in the video has been duplicated by many including wedding parties and young child dancers. Thangs ain’t like they used to be, eh?
Then there was the Motown 25 music show where MJ performed the song “Billie Jean” and he did something called the moonwalk. It seems everyone that saw that went absolutely nuts, including me. It was not a new day but the way Michael did it with great flair, he made it his own. I remember my mother yelping in excitement. Even my father managed to raise an eyebrow. And of course I kicked off my shoes and began to try to figure it out to no avail. However, thank goodness MTV was still in the practice of playing music videos. I would watch for hours waiting for MJ to come on so I could get in another dance lesson.
Whenever I think of the grand illusionist Michael Joseph Jackson I try to focus on these special happy memories. Through the years we have seen a lot of this musical prodigy turned worldwide living legend. My condolences to his family and the people close to him. The MJ I remember died many years ago, still, he will be missed.
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