Tuesday, July 7, 2009

MJ & Me: My Memories of the Greatest of All Time

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I have so many memories of Michael Jackson… Just like everyone else I would dance and sing along to ALL of his ground-breaking music videos. Unfortunately, I wasn’t privy to have been old enough when the Thriller video premiered, so I’m not one of those people that rushed home after school to watch it and sat there as "it changed my life." I wasn't old enough to even know the impact that video would have on popular music and network TV music stations. But for me, it all began with Bad when my love for R&B & Pop music took a hold of me...

MJ’s Bad dropped in August of 1987, and I wasn't quite 6 years old yet, but this man had me mesmerized! I remember having his cassette tape and playing it in my little Sony Walkman tape player; I played that tape OUT and I still own that tape to this day! A couple of years ago, when I was moving out of my parents’ home and packing up my things. My cassette tape storage unit still hung on my bedroom wall but my parents wanted it and everything else packed up or gone out of my room when I moved (I think my Dad was planning to turn it into an upstairs den or something…so long to all my stuffed animals!). So one day I went to my Mom, with tears in my eyes and some of these tapes in my hands including Bad, saying “what am I going to do with these?” I can’t take them all with me but I can’t just throw them away…” (Gotta love Moms)…she said, “Pack them up in plastic tubs, put them in the attic, and I’ll keep them there until you get a house and attic of your own…” I couldn't have been happier. Even though I have my iPizzi, I still cherish my tapes and CDs to this day! ESPECIALLY my Michael Jackson tapes! I could NEVER get rid of them or throw any of them away.

MJ’s Bad Tour concert...the year: 1988, the month: October…shortly after I turned 7, my Dad had gotten 4 tickets on the fly for my birthday! All I remember about where we were seated was that there were some kind of bars in front of us, so I’m thinking we were pretty close. But, what I remember most was how I sat with my parents, 2-year-old brother, and cousin watching MJ’s digitized feet walk across a screen on stage. I vividly remember thinking “woooooow…how’d he do that?” Then, fireworks, lights, camera, and ACTION! MJ jumps out of that screen and on top of it in his black and gold military jacket complete with gold chains and all studded out. He just stands there and the crowd screamed like nothing my little ears had heard before. Still leaning and gazing through those bars trying to hold onto my program book, I was in complete awe of this man. He just stood there in his black shades, for what seemed like eternity in my small world, taking in all the screams and applause. The music started and the rest is pretty much a blur but I remember enjoying the music and dancing for the next 3 hours or so. Yep, he performed for about 3 hours, all by himself! MJ didn’t have “opening acts.” We walked in, took our seats, and my account of what I remember was what it was. This was my VERY first concert experience and I’ll never forget it. I LOVE attending concerts because of this concert right here. In my top 5 concerts, you know I have to rate this one as #1, and I've attended many a concerts.

AH! OH, I cannot forget, my Moonwalker VHS! I think I watched that tape daily! After seeing that concert, I was hooked! This is where my family and I sat around the TV watching its premiere on television. But, wait, not only was he premiering Moonwalker, he premiered his 7th Bad single and my all-time favorite, “Smooth Criminal.”

Oh no, but it wasn't only a video, it was a 39-minute short film complete with gangsters, drugs, guns, magic, and robots! And most of all music! I absolutely LOVED IT! And I mean, MJ was scary as a gangsta, but one fact remained he loved the kids (in my best Martin Lawrence impression). He protected them all from the bad guys trying to sell drugs to kids like me! Ok and I know I wasn’t the only one who wanted to be the ‘Katie’ who he saved in the film and the ‘Annie’ he sang about in the song. But, the best part…whew, my God…MJ dancing and doing the ‘lean move!’ He was the originator of “Lean Back” but MJ did it leaning forwards. And with NO strings or cords! I swear that has to be my ‘moonwalk’ moment! This man literally defied gravity! We ALL tried to do it...and fell right the hell over, kissing the floor, first face! MJ's secret: It was all in the shoes…his magical (patented) shoes…

MJ & Me: the memories…Well, you know I had to pulled all those tapes out since his death: Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory. The insert booklets are all bent on the corners, some torn in the creases, where I would pull it out of the case and try to learn the lyrics to his songs, half understanding what they meant. (Through MJ’s “ow’s” and “shamones,” you know you couldn’t understand him either! I was a little kid for goodness sakes!). My program book is in even worst condition, pages are falling out, but all of them are still there in page order sequence. (Does anyone know how to properly preserve an old program book?) I have VHS tapes that I’m sure XIKhai can attest to seeing in my coffee table drawer…many of which are recordings of MJ’s videos: “Black and White” (the crotch-grabbing version), “Scream” (My brother would be MJ and I was Janet), “Earth Song” (I choreographed parts of some African ballet dance routine in my basement to this song, until I dang near sprang my ankle doing some hopping move and gave up – DON’T you ever ask me to perform it!), just to name a few.

But, aside from my memories, even as a young child not knowing much of what he was singing about, I understood MJ. I understood and felt his energy…his showmanship…his grace on stage. He was a consummate performer who was and still remains unmatched! Michael Jackson was a phenomenon all his own. He did it all! He sang, composed, produced, arranged, played instruments, danced, choreographed, I mean, the list goes on and on. He was limitless in what he gave us as his talent…his gift. He was a gift. He revolutionized American pop music as we know it today. Many of today’s vocal styling comes from Michael Jackson (think: the “vocal hiccup” and those airy, breathless tones we hear nowadays). Michael Jackson was a forward-thinker; his creations were so far out of the box that no one has been able to rival them yet! He’s incomparable and unparalleled! No ONE will ever equal to his likeness let alone his greatness. He stands alone and for me and many others, there will NEVER be another. He is beyond compare…The supreme king of our generation…in the words of Berry Gordy: “He is simply the GREATEST entertainer who has EVER lived.”

Rest in Heaven, Michael. Your legacy and work of art will forever live on. We will always “remember the time” and you will never be forgotten. XI will continue to keep your memory alive…We thank you for touching our hearts in ways you may never know…


XIKhai said...

This is so great! And talk about the FULL concerts MJ gave girl...talk about it. My sister took me to my first MJ concert and I went to one other in 8th grade during middle school. Both were beyond words!

Time stood still whenever Michael debuted a music video or performed on stage. I remember many of his performances but Moonwalker was definitely extra special. My uncle had it on VHS and whenever my cousins and I had sleepovers we begged him to let us watch it over and over again because it was magical. But my favorite MJ video of all time which is so hard to chose was the Remember the Time video premier. That video was amazing just like everything MJ did...he is IRREPLACEABLE and will be missed.

Today time stood still one last time for MJ as he was laid to rest in true Jackson style. His memorial service was a true classic that will go down in history. People honored his legacy the way in which he lived his life, with style and grace!

Oh and YES I've seen the VHS tapes there's too many to count...so it's all true folks. The woman still watches them!

Brilliant post! Farewell MJ!!!!!! Muah!

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