This week finds me in a mournful place because of the loss of Michael Jackson. Like other people, I was at odds at how to feel about the king of pop because of his tainted image from over the years but I never stopped loving his music. He was a one-of-a-kind and we probably will never see someone like him in music ever again. I remember listening to his albums at a very young age and was so influenced by his music that I purchased his album Thriller at the age of 10. This was very significant for me because it was the first CD I purchased with money saved from my birthday as a kid. I remember listening to it non stop and was amazed by the sounds that were produced in that album. Along with “Off The Wall,” It was also the album that played at our local skating joint called “Skate Junction. Skating to songs like Thriller and Human Nature was pure magic! It really used to take me away. Over the next several years, I ended up buying “Bad,” Off The Wall,” “Dangerous,” “History,” and a few others.
I totally “got” his music as a kid and couldn’t figure out why he was so misunderstood. I mean here was this guy who became electric every time he stood on stage. Every song he recorded, he put his personal stamp on. Every music video and film, was magical. His music really used to take me away. I think as a kid, when I started to explore new music, his is what I gravitated to. I was also influenced by some of the people he’d work with like Slash & Paul McCartney, Eddie Van Halen, & Vincent Price.
Later, I’d end up ditching all of his music for newer music like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and NWA. I immersed myself into hip-hop and completely left anything of Michael’s behind. This too ended as I discovered the great bands of the 60’s and 70’s and then delve into learning how to play guitar. I tried to emulate the greats and eventually found my way back to Michael. As soon as I started to record my own songs, I pulled out Michael’s albums and found their production value to be simply astonishing. They were chock full of vocal flourishings, harmonies and unique guitar riffs. I instantly remembered how I felt as kid listening to his music and being taken away.
So today, Michael Jackson’s funeral takes place and millions of fans around the world will watch in as Michael is laid to rest. For better or for worse, he will go down as the greatest entertainer of our time and I’m happy to know that he gave us his gift of music. I’m glad that my song writing was influenced by his and that I got to experience the 80’s with Michael Jackson’s music.
Rest in Peace Michael.