Saturday, June 25, 2011
* I'd like to preface this post with a fun fact: I'm one of the biggest Janet Jackson fans that you may ever meet. But there could be no Jan if there was no Mike.
Two years ago the music loving world got drop-kicked in the gut on this day when it was reported by every news outlet on the globe that Michael Joseph Jackson was dead. Seriously. It can't be. But it was.
Two years ago June 25th was just a normal day to me. I woke up at the crack of morning to go to work at my station in Amarillo, Texas. To make the day go by faster I tweeted constantly with other Janet and Michael fans. The topic of the day was Mike's upcoming tour in London. This is It. For the last few weeks in June of 2009, many of the fans were trying to get Mike to become a trending topic. Later that day he did.
I left work around 1 in the afternoon and went to the gym. After a two hour workout I was feeling great. I went home showered and turned on the TV to catch the now defunct Big Picture with Tamron Hall and David Shuster on MSNBC. But when I turned on the TV there was that damn BREAKING NEWS. King of pop Michael Jackson rushed to the hospital. WTF.
I looked at my flashing phone and saw several text messages about this news. One from my best friend reported what TMZ had said all along, that Mike was dead. But it can't be. But it was. That night I missed Jermaine Jackson's statement confirming his familial tragedy. I was sick. I was heartbroken. So what did I do... I turned to Mike's music.
In the day's, weeks, months, and now year's following Mike's death DJ after DJ, artist after artist, creative person after creative person, and anyone with internet access who was grieving did a tribute to Mike. One friend of mine choreographed a liturgical dance to "Dirty Diana." Profile pictures were updated with pictures of Mike. Tweets were sent out praising the King, the best that ever did it. Mix after mix was released on filesharing services. I downloaded many of them; my favorite one is from DJ Jazzy Jeff. He's the King, I'm the DJ. 58 tracks and two hours of just pure goodness.
Mike's music allows you to escape into his creative genius. It allows you to feel closer to the elusive popstar who in his later years became more synonymous with infamy than just pure fame alone.
In the day's following Mike's death his music became a release from people wearing corporate pin stripes to prison jumpsuits.
His music told more of his story than any tabloid, VH1 special, or BET Awards tribute ever could. His music is what lasts forever. His music is proof of Al Sharpton's iconic eulogy statement, "Your daddy wasn't strange. What was strange is what they did to your daddy."
Tracks like "Stranger in Moscow" show Mike's angst toward what was done to him. "Leave Me Alone" his plea for the paps to do just that. "They Don't Care About Us" his tackle of all the bigots in the world. "D.S." and "Money" his middle finger to the justice system for going after him for eccentricities that weren't necessarily crimes. The jury thought he was innocent all along.
There is a lot to say about Michael Joseph Jackson and it all does not revolve around the music. But at the end of the day it is not his lighter skin, long hair, paper thin nose, or the fact that he shrouded his kids in veils, or may have been a long time drug addict that matter. What matters is what is still tangible and that is his music.
Do you remember how it felt to know that a new Michael Jackson music video was premiering? The day "Remember the Time" came out, right after The Simpsons, in primetime on FOX. Or the way you felt when he threw a concert for himself and all the brothers were there.
One time a friend and I were having a conversation and I blurted out "I really want a new Michael Jackson album." She was incredulous asking, "What the hell is he going to sing about." I, used to such questions snapped, "Does it matter. His biggest hit was about motherfreaking zombies. ZOMBIES!!!."
And that's the thing that makes Mike special. When "Thriller" comes on people get to dancing and prancing like they were coming out of graves themselves. No good Black college party is complete without "Don't stop Till You Get Enough" or "P.Y.T." followed by Frankie Beverly and Maze's "Before I Let Go." No Quiet Storm late night radio is worth its salt unless "Lady in my Life" is played, and no DJ worth spinning wax is a real DJ unless there's some Mike in the mix and there's plenty of Mike to pick.
His music is what connects us to him and him to us, even in death. So today on this two year anniversary of the day I say the music died (sorry Buddy Holly) why don't you take out your favorite Mike album, mix, or track throw it on and dance like there's no tomorrow. If anybody looks at you crazy just "Blame it on the Boogie."
What's your favorite memory of Mike, a song, a video, an album, or even a movie?