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[personal profile] badatapologies
Forget the tragic tabloid death, the skeezy 90s/00s behavior, the circus sideshow that was his life from "Thriller" on. I'll always remember Michael Jackson as he was in the late 60s/70s--a joyful, exuberant kid with just boundless musical gifts. I think anyone who grew up in the 60s or 70s knows what I'm talking about. The Jackson 5 were everywhere. Late night talk shows, variety shows, Saturday morning cartoons. The records were fantastic. Listen to the Miracles' feeble original version of "Who's Lovin' You" and then play the Jackson 5 version, and listen to 10-year old Michael school Smokey on how it's done. I didn't share the national fascination with "Thriller"--I thought "Off The Wall" was vastly superior--but I think you see the last of the "real" Michael in the playfulness of some of Thriller's videos, and a few of the tracks are still pretty great. After that, unlimited fame and wealth did what it does. I think anybody who truly wants to be famous has not been paying attention. In the coming days, in the onslaught of tweets, commentary, lionization, deification, ridiculous Al Sharpton news conferences, terrible tribute albums, etc, I'm just going to remember that joyous, soulful kid who rocked the Apollo. And hope he found some kind of peace in the next world, because there's too damned little of it here.

Date: 2009-06-26 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Jackon 5 Third Album was the first LP I ever owned.

Date: 2009-06-26 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Credit where credit is due, the dude was a giant talent and enourmously charismatic performer whose work brought smiles to millions of faces around the world. His descent into madness, misdeeds, and mediocrity tarnish that, but don't erase it.

You're right about Off the Wall as his best work, with an honorable mention for Say Say Say.

Date: 2009-06-26 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Strangely, TalkingPointsMemo ( had one of the better takes on Jackson's death that I've seen. It's a little surprising how much coverage his death is getting and in how many places(the first place I saw reference to it was Kotaku (, which didn't seem that strange because he did have a video game connection and was supposedly working on a new game), but that breadth of coverage just a sign of how much of footprint he had in popular culture, to say nothing of how diverse the reactions of people who feel strongly enough about the matter to cover it can be.

Date: 2009-06-29 07:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for those links. I have a poor, grumpy, deluded friend, and this friend has always loathed Michael Jackson. And while he was at least somewhat compassionate about MJ's death, he said "Well, it's a good thing it happened before his comeback tour--now he's just a washed-up has-been who'll be quickly forgotten." (Please note I said "somewhat" compassionate.) My friend failed to understand that MJ was alive for almost 51 years and was internationally famous for 40 of them--that he's been making hit records literally since the day I was born. By comparison, John Lennon had been famous for about 18 years when he died. Elvis, maybe 22 years. Princess Diana got what, 16? Not only was Michael famous to several generations of Americans, I was surprised in all this to discover just how powerful an icon he'd become to people all over the world. I think many saw something universal in him and his later work, where a lot of us old coots only saw the strange changes. For my part, I really bonded with the Michael I saw with his brothers on the Flip Wilson show, on Saturday morning TV, or listening on the AM radio, and that part of me that saw him as a fellow "lost" kid really mourns his passing. But in death he really hit the tabloid jackpot. Globally famous, mysterious bordering on insane, on the verge of a comeback, died under mysterious circumstances, clown-car full of dubious celebrity pals, deranged hangers-on and family, a whodunit list longer than my arm, a vast array of corporate rights-holders looking to fan the flames and sell more stuff...sigh. The cynic in me also notes that Michael Jackson now apparently has billions of vocal supporters and friends, where five years ago (maybe even five days ago) he had close to none. Celebrity death, that great cleanser of sins (alleged or otherwise). I'll be grateful when the tabloid aspects of this thing die down (in what, five years?) but in this fragmented age I have to wonder how many more of these almost universal communal experiences we'll have.

Date: 2009-06-27 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree re: Off The Wall. Thriller was OK, but everything after that was basically unlistenable IMO. The young Michael Jackson, before he started looking like a strange rich white woman and sounding like a cheesey parody of his old self, was defintely best...

Date: 2009-06-29 07:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I can only hope that President Obama will provide some kind of employment assistance to Weird Al Yankovic. It must be like staring into the abyss: no more food-related MJ parodies. Hey, maybe Al will rewrite "Candle In The Wind" for the MJ funeral?

Date: 2009-06-30 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm sorry but I have always considered his music to be fairly disposable, just a notch above Britney Spears' stuff. I did like the Jackson 5 cartoon though. That music was much better than the Osmonds one.


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