You certainly don’t need me to tell you that Michael Jackson died on Thursday. I have to admit: This one hit me pretty hard, even though there’s a big part of me that would rather believe Jacko died back in 1988 or so.
We’ve spent more than a few inches of print space on Michael over the years, and I can say that I consider “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” to be two of the best ass-shaking good time records ever recorded.
I remember hearing “Billie Jean” for the first time, riding in the backseat of a car with some friends (on the way to who knows where) and arguing if it was a girl or boy singing (give me a break, I was 10). I sang it incessantly until the utter face-melting glory of “Beat It” was unleashed upon the world. I’ve been a die-hard Michael fan ever since. Sure, he lost me about the time of “Dangerous”, but damn those singles still snuck into my head each time I heard them. To this day I’ll defend “Moonwalker” for nothing else than giving us the “Smooth Criminal” video, which might be last time he really just blew us away with that effortless grace in motion. MJ made this awkward gangly tangly boy want to dance, and that’s saying something.
Hell, “Black and White” still pops into my head on occasion. I bought “Invincible“, for heaven’s sake; hoping, hoping, hoping that it’d have even a trace of that genius Michael left behind. Over the years I went back and discovered the almost effortless joy and power of the Jackson 5, always just floored at how much power and grit that little boy’s voice had at 11 years old. “I Want You Back” is a guaranteed smile on my face to this day by the time the first verse begins.
But at the end of the day there will always be “Off the Wall“. Holy crap, but I love that album. I don’t know ANYONE who can wholly resist movin’ when ‘Rock With You’ or ‘Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough’ comes over the speakers, and it’s been the soundtrack to many a fine dance party at this, and every iteration of Fort Awesome.
It’s with a heavy heart that I say “G’night”, to Micheal at aged 50, but in some ways many fans like myself said it years ago. Even now I look past the freakish surgeries, the insane behavior, the allegations (that I suspect are truer than I’d like to believe), and see a man who effortless bridged the gap between soul, funk, pop, and rock. A troubled and talented soul who for all his faults, will always have those years of genius preserved for eternity.
G’night, Michael. Fade into that beautiful fog-filled laser hallway because you, at long last have gotten enough.