With strange sadness and a weird chill going through my body – I am processing the loss of Michael Jackson. All over the world he is mourned today by an astounding number of fans that give testament to how powerful and all-encompassing a figure he was. Even to me.
Yes, even to me. You see I was never a Michael Jackson fan really. I have my favorite Michael Jackson record – Off the Wall – but I never owned it. I had a few friends that were so obsessed with Michael Jackson that they actually scared me and showed me how creepy adulation for a celebrity can be. I didn’t want any part of that. But I now see that he just did that to people – and I never truly understood why until today.
I have to admit that my life wouldn’t have been the same if he didn’t exist and how incredibly gifted he was to put across HIGHLY innovative music as a pop commercial success and that Michael Jackson’s music sounded like no other and everybody wanted it anyway.
I now see and hear so clearly that the The Jackson Five and Michael Jackson as a solo act were a constant soundtrack to my life and so many others. I remember as a child hearing the J5’s music at parties and pumping through car speakers when I lived in Brooklyn. I remember their music coming out of my tiny transistor radio that I took with me to Trinidad. I remember coming back to school and all the kids singing J5 tunes and I remember the cartoon. My senior year of high school and first few years college was MJ-time for sure with ‘Thriller’ dominating the airways with my then boyfriend keeping the ‘Thriller’ cassette in his Walkman, on play, at all times – even when we were together. All these years with all these guideposts through Michael Jackson’s life as a pop star and his subsequent fall from grace, raced by me, alongside me just living my own life and stopping now and again to take in his story through song, dance or a disgraceful interview, simply not realizing just how important he was for all this time.
We all have our tastes. I make no excuse for not being as attracted to his music as others. It just was the way it was but in the end, my sadness today shows me how much bigger than ALL of us he was. His death caused my life to flash before my eyes and I’ve never experienced THIS feeling before.
Last night I walked to the supermarket with my dog and in the eerie quiet of my Brooklyn neighborhood, the only sounds in the air were Michael Jackson tunes through car radios. I heard songs from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s all in the space of 15 minutes. What amazed me was that I KNEW all the songs, all the lyrics and I couldn’t help but sing along as the snippets drove past. Other folks were singing too and shaking their heads to the music and in disbelief. We couldn’t stop.
He may be gone but we can continue to enjoy and sing all that he left behind and perhaps, just perhaps…he is happier now than ever…and life, once again has taught me a valuable lesson. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.