Michael Jackson died yesterday. I was up much later than planned and happened to come across a news show that was starting, where they stated that they had just received the message from LA that he had been rushed to the hospital, possibly not breathing or with a heart attack. Then he was allegedly in a coma, then the first sources started saying he had died. I waited up until almost 1 a.m. to hear them confirm it – It was such incredible news, I just couldn’t believe it. This morning it was all over the media of course – the legend, the king of pop, has passed away at 50. I was shocked.
It wasn’t until they interviewed someone my age on the radio that it really hit me. I was born in 1985, so after the big solo-career and Thriller-hype (which is still the best-selling album of all times). My introduction came with Black and White and the album Dangerous. I was hooked – I can’t tell you how much. An old friend from NJ even wrote to me on Facebook to ask if I had heard, because she remembered how I was such a huge fan when we were young. I had all the albums (as tapes – tapes, people, it’s that long ago), videotapes, t-shirts, caps, posters, … a friend even gave me one of those big cloth-posters to hang on my wall as a present. I loved the Jackson 5 in retrospect and collected all his solo work. I watched the videos for hours on end and made my friends sing karaoke to his songs on my birthday. I even forced my big sister to reenact Beat It with me (and got upset when she wasn’t doing it right). She also wrote to me this morning, to say I’ll be the only one who can do it right, now.
After the radio interview with that 23-year-old guy they played They Don’t Care About Us – the first MJ song I had heard in years, a decade at least. And when I realized that I still knew every beat and every word and all the emotions came floating up – that’s when my eyes got teary for the first time. Because that’s when it hit me that he had been such a huge influence in my childhood. I had repressed those years until now, because at some point I grew out of it and then it started to get embarrassing because he was more known for his excentricity and the problems than for his music. But since this morning I have immersed myself in his songs and videos and it all came screaming back to me… and I could kick myself that I didn’t bring those tapes / CDs back with me, because that’s all I wanted to listen to today.
If I ever had an idol, it was him. Not only was he a perfectionist, entertainer, performer, musician but he actually invented dance moves that were then known all over the world. And not only was he an exceptional dancer, the lyrics in his music reminded me of how he was the one who first gave me a sense of belonging to a world community, to feel responsible for people who might be very far away but aren’t that different and who need help, to open my eyes concerning what we were doing to our earth. I think there a more things I identify with today that I owe to this influence than I had realized up until now. And seeing that this is now a closed chapter I have to leave behind makes me very sad. This is a sad day. Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.