In a few days, I will post the rest of my adventure to Wesleyan, but I would be amiss if I did not comment today on the passing of Michael Jackson. Besides him, we lost two other giants recently: Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon. Of the three, though, MJ’s loss was the most shocking, and indeed, the only one of the three that I can comment on personally.
Michael Jackson was the first pop star that I listened to on purpose. What that means is that I (or, more likely, my parents) went out and bought his albums, put them on the record player, and would listen to them again and again, rather that come across them on the radio by accident. One of the first albums I ever owned was Bad, followed by a couple of Jackson 5 albums, a Motown Legends album that included the Jackson 5, and finally, Thriller. In addition, one Christmas I received some 45s of his music, including not only his solo work, but some of his work as part of the Jacksons (maybe some from his Jackson 5 days, too). I also own his Moonwalker video (on VHS) and played the video game of the same name on my friend’s Sega Genesis.
While I still think that his best work was done with the Jackson 5, I was a fan of “Heal the World” (off of Dangerous) and many of the tracks off of his Thriller and Bad albums. I didn’t buy Dangerous, nor did I listen to all of the tracks on it, but from what I’ve heard, and what happened to his career afterwards, that album can be considered his last good/great album. Then he got weird.
Today, if you go back and listen to the music, or see his many music videos (including the seminal Thriller video), you’ll see the reasons he will be missed. He may have been too eccentric for some of us in his later years, but who are we to judge, who never had his talent, who never had the pressures forced upon us that he had forced upon him, and at such a young age? Maybe the talent left him as he got older, or maybe he knew that he could never top what he had done previously–though it should be pointed out that he was planning a comeback tour in London at the time of his death. In any case, as with any artist who dies young, we should be happy that he left us so much of his art, and a blueprint that other artists trying to be as big as he became still try to emulate.
But try as they might, there will only be one Michael Jackson.