I was about 5 or 6 when “Thriller” came out. I remember our parents bought us the album–my brother and me. It was the second record we owned-just us kids-and until we could work the record player we weren’t allowed to touch it.
But somehow that record was played and the cover handled so much it got scratched. If I knew who did it, I wouldn’t tell you to this day, but I don’t. Then we got the “Bad” album, one that even though it didn’t match “Thriller” in album sales, I loved it more. With songs like “Dirty Diana”, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, and “Bad” all gritty and raw and romantic; somehow it felt like Michael Jackson had grown up a little. And of course I had, too. I mean, I was 11 for goodness sake! I was practically an adult.
Back then, Michael Jackson’s music to me was just cool. It was a guy singing and selling Pepsi(r). It was a sequined glove, a red jacket, a scary video you watched through the spaces between your fingers, but you just couldn’t stop watching it because you wanted to get those zombies’ dance moves down. It was begging your parents to stay up late, because Michael Jackson’s MoTown performance was going to be on right after the next commercial. It was just pure fun.
As my talent for writing grew so did my APPRECIATION for music–and the genius behind real music. The power of words combined with a melody to give them permanence is something I marvel. Somewhere someone is thinking of exactly how you’re feeling and is making a song about it. That’s why as a writer, music is my muse. Music pulls random words into phrases and eventually paragraphs. It causes me to think about what I’m saying in a different way. Michael Jackson’s music became more than just a fun fad for me. There’s not one song this man created or performed that didn’t come from his heart, his soul. Real musicians, real writers, they create art-not just for sale, but for sanity–for spiritual survival. How? The only way is through their hearts and souls. The only way musicians and writers can create something memorable is by being inside their art: wallowing in the music, immersed in the writing. We inspire each other by sharing our souls with each other.
Michael’s music is not just a good time in a club. It’s not just a soundtrack to some great childhood memories. It’s the evidence that a great artist can do anything. It’s validation that music and literature are just as important to our lifeblood as math and science. It’s evidence that us “weirdos” who may use our right brains a little more than others can be treasured icons. It’s the evidence that great music can change the world.
I thought I wouldn’t get emotional over Michael Jackson’s death. After all, he’s not family. He isn’t a close personal friend. I have never even met him. But wait. Wasn’t he telling me about himself since I was 6? Hadn’t we shared some of the same feelings? Had I been humming the refrain of his life experiences all these years?
I didn’t know the man. Or did I?