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Michael Jackson 1958-2009

In the 7th or 8th grade, I remember having a classmate who was a huge Michael Jackson fan. I was at the time as well but it was also beginning to be fashionable to make fun of the guy. It was the mid 80s and Jackson’s “Thriller” album was still near the height of its popularity despite the fact that it was released in 1982. But by this time, lots of rumors of strange goings on had come out about the gloved one and jokes abounded. I took part in them even though I was fascinated with his music and image. Anyway, this classmate was always defending Jackson and I remember him several times telling me that “He could kick YOUR ass!” He was probably right. I was a pushover at the time. Regardless, those kinds of memories are some of the first things I think about when I hear Jackson’s name.

“Thriller” was one of the first albums I owned after the cassette tape first became so popular and I wore the thing out. Like most of the other albums I owned, the printing on the case got worn off, the sound quality became really poor and it would hardly play at all. I could listen to that thing from beginning to end and remember liking almost every song on it. I think I ended up buying another copy of it, which didn’t happen with any of the rest of my collection at the time. I haven’t heard that album in probably more than 20 years now but I still remember how I felt while I listened to it back then.

“Thriller” was followed up by “Bad”, which was another huge hit for Jackson. Compared to “Thriller”, though, it was a bit of a letdown for me but I was still a big fan and made sure to catch all the new videos, watch the charts, interviews, etc. I even got a huge kick out of Weird Al Yankovic’s take on Jackson’s video for “Bad”, called “Fat”. That was good stuff. For some reason, Weird Al always seemed to associate food when he spoofed a Jackson tune.

Then, of course, things really got strange in the early to mid 90s. Rumors about Jackson’s personal life were widespread by then and he had even been sued for allegedly molesting a young boy. He settled out of court but his career was never really the same. Yes, he could still count on his new albums going platinum but it just wasn’t the same anymore. His appearance radically changed, to the point that, in the 2000s, he began to look more like an alien lifeform than a person.

It’s all really rather tragic, in my opinion. Despite the rather serious and possibly true allegations about his involvement with children, he always seemed to be a rather tortured soul. The guy probably never had a fighting chance at anything resembling a normal life and it’s been fairly well documented that his childhood, what little there was of it, was not a happy one.

Then came yesterday’s news of his passing. Now that I think of it, it’s really not that huge of a shock, though I was a bit surprised when I heard the news last night. I wonder if the guy ever really trusted anyone, had a real friend, or was able to experience true love? It reminds me a lot of the death of Freddie Mercury, lead singer for the band Queen, who died of AIDS. Freddie said before his passing that he often felt that he never had a real friend. What a sad existence.

When someone passes away that I know had a hard life or lived some kind of bizarre existence, I often think of the song “Mother Love” by Queen, which I’ve blogged about before. I’ve been blessed by experiencing the ultimate real love in Jesus Christ, real love in my relationship with my wife, and real love with my daughter. It saddens me when others go through life without experiencing that.


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