Written while watching 'Beverly Hills Cop' on a rainy Sunday night. I know we only ever saw redubbed and edited versions of this film on TV in the 80's, but I don't remember it having so much swearing....
When I heard about Michael Jacksons death on Friday morning, I wondered to myself how often the above phrase would be used by the media when discussing it.
I won't say I was a big fan. There are no Michael Jackson albums in my collection. I had no great love for his output, especially in the 90's. I respected his talent though, and I do like some of his stuff, mostly from the Thriller and Bad era *. I remember one hungover morning in the 90's listening to all of his albums back to back in a post party haze while we played cards (it seemed reasonable enough at the time).
It was impossible to grow up in the 80's and not notice him. My sisters and I just about wore out our copy of 'Thriller' (on tape) by playing it over and over on weekends. Being the first person in your group to see the complete 'Thriller' video made you cool for at least a week. I drummed badly as part of a band lip synching to 'Beat it' as part of a class project making music videos at intermediate. Its weird to think the song was only five years old then.
Watching all the videos on C4 yesterday brought back a lot of memories. There is a great moment at the end of the 'Jam' video, where the cameras kept rolling at the end of the take and caught Jackson trying to teach Michael Jordan some of his dance moves. It showed a playful and patient side of the man not often seen in the media.
As I grew older I appreciated his work more, but also started to see him more and more as a tragic figure, trapped by his own idiosyncrasies. I never formed an opinion on his guilt or innocence of the various things he was accused of. He was acquitted and that was good enough for me, but in this age of guilty until proven innocent, he would be forever tainted by it. His oddity made him an easy target for such accusations, and for all the crude humour associated with it. I never found the jokes all that amusing, and find them even less tasteful now. The guy was certainly weird, but also harmless, and very good at what he did, even if his artistic peak was well behind him.
The forthcoming world tour would have made an interesting spectacle, if only to see if he still had the immense ability to entertain he once possessed. C4 was running a competition to take people to one of the concerts; I thought it would be better to have seen him in his 80's prime.
That's the Michael Jackson I most want to remember. Selfishly, the resonant thing with his death for me is that it marks another piece of my childhood gone forever.
* For the record, those favourite Jackson tracks of mine are, in no particular order, 'Thriller', 'Beat it', 'Dirty Diana', 'Smooth Criminal', 'Give in to me', 'They don't care about us', 'Scream', and purely for sentimental reasons, 'Man in the Mirror'. 'Dirty Diana' would be my favourite of all if asked. Its a bit darker and more intense than the rest of his singles and has a great quiet/loud verse/chorus combination.