Friday, June 26, 2009

My own Thriller

Michael Jackson is dead. Wow.

I had just arrived at work yesterday when I heard the news that Michael had been hospitalized. The newsroom buzzed like never before, partially because it was that rare Really Huge Story that doesn't seem to happen much anymore, but also because he'd had an impact on so many of us. And that's what made Michael so special; even in his oddest behavior and at the very nadir of his popularity, no one could deny that his music had been a soundtrack for our lives. He redefined music, stardom, spectacle and charity.

Within minutes of Michael's passing, my entire Facebook feed was about MJ. And not the "Wacko Jacko" jokes that had come to define him in his later years, but how profound an impact he had on my friends' lives. I really had no idea. His music has been in heavy rotation in my music library from the start. All of it, from "I Want You Back" to "You Rock My World." To me, Michael's work is consistently excellent - Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory are personal favorites of mine - and I have most of his albums. In fact, just this past Monday I bought the Jacksons' Victory LP (99 cents at a secondhand store - what a travesty for a near-mint record). In recent years, I felt like I was the only one who still cared. As sad as I am that he died, I'm happy to know that so many have been affected so deeply.

The thing about Michael's music isn't that he made it, but that it seemed inevitable that he would. If ever a pop song seemed natural to me, "Billie Jean" is it. I can't imagine that song not existing. The same is true with a lot of his compositions, almost as if the sonic genius was there, but Michael was the one talented enough to capture it for posterity.

In this age of extreme niche, it's unreal to fathom someone of Michael's scale coming along again. Check out any of the hottest musical acts today, and chances are they apply to a specific clientele, like Disney Channel aficionados or hip-hop dance clubs. Michael had everybody. He was everywhere, not strictly out of capitalism, but because people literally couldn't get enough of him. He was one of those beacons of world unity that are so lacking these days, in every respect. He was more than a musician - he advocated for children and the environment and electrified the world with dazzling showmanship that, for many behind the Iron Curtain, was their first taste of Western culture.

His Dangerous tour concert from Bucharest in 1992, aired on HBO and my VCR countless times, is an all-time classic of showmanship. The musical performances alone are top-notch, but the spectacle itself is unmatched. During one montage, a picture of Michael with AIDS victim Ryan White elicited huge cheers from the Romanian crowd. Not only did Michael befriend Ryan at a time when AIDS rendered you untouchable, but was probably the reason Romanians had even heard of Ryan White. That's really something.

One of my earliest memories is standing in my mom's kitchen through much of 1983-84 as she wore out her Thriller cassette on our silver Panasonic boombox. I remember being especially mesmerized by the spinning tape counter, and also by Michael's falsetto, which made me think he was a girl. When I got a CD copy for Christmas in 7th grade (1992), I did my best to wear that out too. I also had Dangerous and Bad in that time period, as well as the Jacksons' Triumph on LP. Can You Feel It? I did. Endlessly.

Not long after that, I began writing songs. Lots of them. Within the next two years, I wrote more than 150 songs. I became obsessed with creating my own Thriller, even going so far as to create my own band (Decibel) with my friends, though we never actually played - just wrote songs in anticipation of our big break. And though I eventually gave up on being a rock star - probably when my mom accurately called me "tone deaf" - I've never stopped writing lyrics or anything else. And I'm still working on my own Thriller.

Michael Jackson ranks right up there with my teachers and family as an original inspiration for my creative efforts. Without him, the world would be a much less interesting place in so many ways. And I wouldn't be who I am today. Thank you for raising the bar, Michael. You are missed. But you have left a legacy that will never die.

22 comments:

Tomothy said...

Somehow I'm not really shocked at you idolizing a pedophile.

Ian McGibboney said...

Somehow I'm not really shocked that you posted that comment about 10 seconds after I posted this.

I originally addressed the scandals in this post, but decided not to. But OK. I forget my blog is a magnet for cowardly trolls who have nothing better to do than hurl abuse at me all day.

I don't think he molested anybody. Only two people have ever accused him of it, both of whom stood to make millions off it. I believe his former bodyguard, who said years after the fact that "he's a baby," and the numerous child stars who - even after cutting ties - said nothing ever happened. He could be unhinged at times, and he damaged his own image lots of times, but all the evidence I've ever seen was circumstantial. Apparently the legal system agreed with me.

Anyway, none of that changes his cultural impact and his influence on my childhood creativity.

Tomothy said...

Ah I see, so it's cool to give little kids wine and then have them sleep in your bed? Glad to know you're cool with that.

Ian McGibboney said...

I'm sorry. Was he convicted of that?

Tomothy said...

OJ wasn't convicted of killing Nicole, but we all know he did it.

Did you cry yesterday Ian?

Ian McGibboney said...

I'll believe a jury over some cowardly asshole such as yourself.

Tomothy said...

How am I cowardly?

Are there any other child fucking pedophiles you idolize Ian?

Ian McGibboney said...

You're a coward because you hide behind an anonymous name just like your unhinged asshole friends, who make vicious attacks 24/7 on everything I write. I don't think you even care about Michael Jackson, just that pretending to do so gives you an excuse to be abusive towards me.

TJENKINS said...

T. Jenkins is my real name, it's not anonymous you moron.

"I don't think you even care about Michael Jackson"

You would be correct. I'm not a big fan of pedos like you Ian so I don't mourn their death.

Did his pedophile tendencies remind you of a family member Ian? Daddy perhaps?

Ian McGibboney said...

You're anonymous because you don't have a blog or e-mail address to hold you accountable for anything you say.

You're a coward because you use that cloak to call someone you don't know a child molester.

Get a life, both of you.

TJENKINS said...

So only people with blogs are allowed to comment on your retarded posts? I have an email Ian, It's attached to my stupid blogger profile, besides how does an email address help you "hold me accountable"? You're just angry that you can't dredge up info about me, not to "hold me accountable" but to attack me, as I do you. Well sorry Ian, you're the one that decided to commit every stupid opinion you have to a website. Now you can face the consequences.

I love this by the way, I love the image of you huffing and puffing like a petulant child because you can't find out shit about me.

Back to the subject, do you like boys or girls Ian?

Ian McGibboney said...

Your e-mail address is not on your profile, teej. I see nothing but your name, your mocking avatar of Obama and 22 page views.

You aren't here to comment; you are here to insult and defame. Your discussions have zero value. They've actually gotten worse over time, which I'm astounded is even possible. And your anonymity is what allows you to do this. That's why it matters.

TJENKINS said...

So A guy who's website is based on attacking and defaming people he disagrees with politically is whining that I'm attacking and defaming him. fucking LOL.


Alright Ian, my email is now visible in my stupid blogger profile, c'mon man, use it to HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.

Ian McGibboney said...

I address the issues. You're calling me a pedophile. There's a difference.

Does your e-mail address imply what I think it does, that you're running for office in 2012? Can't wait!

TJENKINS said...

You don't address issues, you spout standard liberal boilerplate and attack anyone that doesn't agree with it. You're nothing but a liberal hack, and a poorly read and educated one at that.

Ian McGibboney said...

And you call ME boilerplate? You might as well just post that last comment in every post I write. Oh, wait, you do.

TJENKINS said...

But I don't claim to be a serious journalist Ian, I don't claim to talk "about the issues".

We are way off the subject though. Let's get back to your infatuation with a pedophile. Now, when exactly did daddy molest you Ian? Did he make you swallow?

Ian McGibboney said...

Thanks for the clarification. I was confused there for a second.

Nick Istre said...

Hey Ian, apparently MJ was guilty in the court of TJENKINGS. Too bad for him the real courts and juries didn't agree, but reality has a liberal bias, you know...

In truth, I never could get into his work after Bad, but, like many others, Thriller definitely had a big influence on my childhood.

I can't say that he will be missed, as it feels like he's pretty much disappeared for many years already from my own view. Still, it's sad to hear he died; I hope he can now rest from the many demons he seemed to have in life.

TJENKINS said...

"Hey Ian, apparently MJ was guilty in the court of TJENKINGS."

Sure he's innocent, it's perfectly normal for an innocent person to pay $40 million out of court to settle molestation charges, innocent people do that ALL the time.

Bridget said...

I have no idea if he was guilty of the things of which he was accused. I sincerely hope not. I do know that he was a very unusual person that probably didn't remember a time when strangers couldn't recognize him on sight. He was an extremely talented artist, and in a way, that's all he knew how to be. For some of us his death comes as a time when we can finally mourn the young charismatic pop legend that slowly disappeared into the visibly damaged person that maybe he always was. It's possible that there were some very bad things about him. If so, at least that's over now. I'm still going to mourn the good things.

Tina said...

I believe he was acquitted on ALL 14 counts. For someone who is a 'child molester' I find it odd he was FIRST accused when he was 35...just doesn't fit the profile. On top of which there were ONLY TWO accusers...OH and they both got paid BIG money. That doesn't happen with your 'normal' child molesters....oh Wait...normal child molesters don't have that kind of money....Gotcha.