A Tribute to a Musical Genius…


...I will always remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the shocking news of the death of Michael Jackson. I think we will all do the same.
My initial reaction was, “Huh? WHICH Michael Jackson?”…as though there were a million other people I knew of with that same name. I listened with disbelief, shock and a keen sense of sadness. I felt as though I had lost someone I knew personally, a friend if you will. I didn’t cry (like many fans on TV and around) but I still felt a sense of grief. He was gone. I stared in disbelief at the small, pathetic figure wrapped up in a white sheet being wheeled out of the hospital by coroners and paramedics. That was all that remained of a musical legend, an icon. Then it dawned on me just how mortal we all are when all is said and done.
I won’t go into his personal history or involve myself in debates about his lifestyle, scandals, demise and conspiracy theories. I’ll leave that well alone. But I would like to give my own tribute to the Michael Jackson whose music and videos I grew up with and thoroughly enjoyed to the fullest. All kids of the 80s can remember how we felt when we watched “Thriller” for the first time! I remember jumping behind the couch in fear. Now that was a full feature music video and mini film rolled into one: who has been able to come up with a concept like that 20 years later? Or how about dancing to “Don’t stop till you get enough”? I know I ‘fell in love’ with him when I watched him dancing and singing “Rock with you”. I remember our old SONY cassette boom box blasting out Michael tunes while my sisters and I jumped around with glee. Folks, Michael had a unique talent: his music could, in an instant, transport you to happy places…places where all that mattered was the beat and the tune.
There is a Michael Jackson song for every season of my life. I have listened to his music for my full 28 years of life. How can we ever forget the shivers that ran down our spines when we rocked “Off the Wall”? How many times have we hummed along to “Human Nature”? Or jumped around our rooms and beds to the funky beat of “PYT (Pretty Young Thing)”? Chaps, you have to admit that you all envied his smooth dance moves and seemingly boundless energy! Guys wanted to be him and girls wanted…well, we just wanted him! How many of us mimed to “Billie Jean” and “Beat it” or gazed in awe at his amazing moves in his “Smooth Criminal” video? How many of us girls envied that cutie in the video “The way you make me feel” and wished we could be the girl Michael sang to? I think at some point in time all of us girls wanted to be a “Liberian Girl”! How many of us had a secret crush on Michael when we watched him spin “Bad”? He was the original bad boy! Sure, he had a rather…erm…unique sense of style (with a rather pointed love of sequins) but you have got to admit: he was the only one who could pull off the buckle and leather look without looking stupid!
He was a groundbreaker in the music scene, both in visual and vocal arts! His music videos were like shards of pure sunlight among the dull, drab and monotonous fare we were used to. How can we ever forget the silver glove? Or the socks and loafers? How about his “Billy Jean” performance at the 25th Motown Anniversary? NOBODY could do the moonwalk like Mikey! How many of the artists we listen to now have been influenced by him in one way or another? Who could come up with videos like that: videos we still watch and enjoy now more than 3 decades later! Remember the Abacha style glasses (which I suspect Abacha himself mooched off Michael)? What about his humanitarian songs like “We are the World”, “Man in the Mirror”, or “Heal the World”? The man broke world records and I wonder how long it will take for someone to break the barriers he did.
One thing I remember about Michael’s music is that it had a distinct quality: it made you happy, or it made you think. I don’t know anyone who could listen to his tunes without either singing or dancing along (or in my case, both). There was no better way to get a party going than belting out one of Michael’s tunes. I mean, come on, can you really sit still when they play “PYT”, “Black or White” or “You Rock my World”? He broke new grounds when it came to videos. Remember the part in “Don’t Stop till you get Enough” where he has 3 of himself dancing? NO ONE did that in the 70s! Or the computer morphing that was done in “Black or White”? Or turning himself into a panther? Or coming out of sand in “Remember the Time”? Or a robot in “Moonwalker”? Can you remember the race he had with the rabbit in “Speed Demon”? The list goes on and on and I’m quite sure you have your own fond memories of songs that brought a little light to your world.
People, I will say one thing. Regardless of what Michael Jackson turned out to be personally, he had ‘something’. That man was given ENORMOUS talent by GOD Himself! Yeah, I said it! The devil doesn’t create: only the Creator has that Power! The devil can only destroy and distort and he managed to do a bit of that in Michael Jackson’s relatively short life. Well, we all have choices to make and he obviously made his. We saw Michael in different phases of his life: some joyful, some seemingly confused and others downright grotesque. I am not trying to make him into a saint because he was far from that. I am only trying to make the point that whatever your personal opinion of Michael Jackson, you cannot deny the impact he had on music. Indeed, I’d wager that you have at least one song among the many he sang that is your personal favorite.
So, here’s to Michael Jackson: I raise my glass or doff my hat to you and I say “Rest in Peace”. GOD blessed him immensely and my prayer is that he recognized His Creator and Maker and made his peace before he passed on. I hope he had some sense of serenity in his last days…well, we may never know: only God does…



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here