Posted by: bullyforme | June 29, 2009

Life ain’t so bad at all (when you live it off the wall)

Yeah, yeah, here is my obligatory Michael Jackson post. I’m not a blogophile, meaning I don’t peruse a ton of blogs. But I’ll bet my penny loafers that the blogosphere is crawling with posts about the late and to some – debatably, great MJ. Those who think he deserved to die…who are convinced that he was a pedophile… who disregard him because of his freakish nature later in life… who had 10 jokes about him lined up before his body temp dropped below 98.5 – you may want to skip this one.

I grew up with Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. My preadolescent room had record jackets for “Off the Wall” and the 5’s “Victory” hung carefully on my wall. I owned the “Thriller” video – complete with the “Making Of” film, and watched it over and over. And over. “I Want You Back” is my current default cellphone ringtone, and sometimes I’m hard pressed to answer it, because I just love hearing his precious 10 year old voice sing it, baby, sing it. The title of this post is obviously a quote from Jackson’s “Off the Wall” and was – is – the reoccurring theme of my life.

I’ll be the first to say it has been YEARS since I was a hardcore Michael Jackson fan, but those solid 10 years or so when I adored him will of course never leave my memory. I remember as a small child watching preadolescent and teenaged Michael and his brothers backing him up. I remember waiting weeks for the TV movie-of-the-week of the Jackson family to air, only to steam for weeks afterward at such a horrible movie. The nerve of these people to suggest there was something wrong with the Jackson family!

My father was the one to break the recent sad news to me. We had just chatted a few minutes before about a completely unrelated subject, and when he called back I assumed he was just adding on to our previous conversation. “Your idol Michael Jackson is dead!” he exclaimed. Of course Dad knows MJ hasn’t been my idol in quite awhile, but he remembers avidly my addiction to all things Michael as a preteen. He remembers waiting in line for me, for hours, to try and get MJ’s autograph when the superstar was coming through town and paying respects to the active duty folks at Mather Air Force Base.

My whole family remembers the hours I spent by the radio trying to win tickets to his concert. They remember my excitement at winning not those, but the consolation prize – a two record set of MJ narrating the “ET – Extra Terrestrial” story, complete with glossy program book. The glory! I still have this memento. It is the single weirdest, and most precious to me, piece of pop culture that I own.

I never had a red leather jacket, sparkly socks, or wore a single glove. (However I did have penny loafers, and only had to throw them out a few years ago because they finally bought the farm after 25 years). I never bought “Bad” or any of his albums following “Thriller.” I was well into my rock-and-roll phase and heading toward my new wave/punk leanings.

But Michael brought a certain something to my life, as he did millions of others… a sense of style and mystery, a wonder that nature could produce such a voice, such a talent. You won’t see me moon dancing or grunting onstage, but he definitely had an influence in my life taking the path of musician and performer.

As far as the accusations, the far-out plastic surgery, the bizarre behavior and family choices he made – none of it makes any difference to my memories of young Michael Jackson, the amazing and talented performer and musician that I grew up with.

Goodbye, MJ.

mjyoung

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