Friday, 26 June 2009

Memories of Michael

So farewell then, Michael Jackson. I heard the news of his cardiac arrest, followed shortly afterwards by confirmation that he'd died, late last night, as I was taking a final look at the Huff Post. I've been surprised how much his death has affected people who are surely too young to remember him in his hey-day: our teenage son and daughter were quite upset this morning, and the young woman at the Sainsbury's checkout shook her head on seeing my newspaper and told me she still couldn't believe it.

Conversely, I'm too old for Michael Jackson to have meant much to me (though he was about the same age as me). When I was growing up in the '70s, we prog rock / glam / punk fans dismissed the Jackson Five as bubblegum soul, a kind of black version of the Osmonds. When Michael's solo fame arrived in the '80s, my tastes had moved on to jazz and 'world' music. It's only very recently, and mainly through my son's interest in soul and R'n'B, that I've come to appreciate the quality of the early Jackson Five material.

Michael Jackson did play a small part in the soundtrack of my life, however. In the early '80s, H. and I went to see David Bowie perform at the Milton Keynes Bowl. It was a stiflingly hot day, and the great man was extremely late arriving (I think his helicopter touched down in the early evening, when we'd been expecting him around 2.00). To keep us happy, the DJ played the same tracks over and over throughout the afternoon, and the one I remember most is 'Billie Jean', its compelling Quincy Jones-produced riff building up anticipation for Bowie's belated appearance.

On the way home from the concert, I proposed to H. and she said 'yes'. This year, we're celebrating our 25th anniversary. When we were in Miami Beach earlier this year, as part of our celebrations, this man pleased us no end by playing 'Billie Jean' , and some other great early '80s sounds, as we sat by the pool. Wherever he's deejaying today, I'm sure he's in mourning, and playing Michael Jackson songs on a continuous loop.

1 comment:

TNC said...

I spent the day at Coney Island with the family. When we got home I turned on the 5:00pm local news to find that Michael Jackson had passed away. BBC World is on at 6:00 and they spent the entire half hour talking about it. I expected they would cover his death, but the entire program? It seemed sort of strange to me what with all the things happening around the world right now.

"Thriller" was released when I was in 9th grade and it seemed like everyone I knew had the album, whether they were into punk, hip-hop or metal. It was universal. At that time it was not unusual for kids (us) to be into break dancing/popping, Black Sabbath and Black Flag.