It's hard to put into words how he and his family's music impacted my life, but I'll try.
There are the memories of me and my cousin Chris in his living room playing the Jacksons' records over and over and over again while Chris drilled it into me that I not only had to learn the lead and background vocals, but I needed to know the drum score, the bass track, guitar riffs etc. and I had to know who was singing and playing what and when. It was my first "music" lesson and it's how I listen to music now -- in layers. Mr. SLS loves that I can dissect a song in that way.
There's the Jacksons' Christmas album that Mama SLS has played every year since I was a kid. Christmas didn't begin until that tape was popped in and the tape was garbled at one spot in "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" so I only know it with the garbled part. I talked about it so much that Mr. SLS bought me a new cd of it 2 years ago and the tradition lives on in our house.
When my parents separated we stayed with my Grandma for two years while they argued it out. During this time, my daddy bought me a stereo for my room at home and the Jacksons albums as well as Off The Wall to listen to -- but I couldn't take them to Grandma's. When we would go home on the weekends (yes, it was odd to go home to my own house and room and friends) I would play the Triumph album over and over.
Which leads me to the first concert I ever went to -- The Jacksons' Triumph tour. My uncle took me, Chris and our other cousin to the concert and, even though I was 10 and there was no Interwebz, I knew that Randy had hurt his leg in a car accident and was still rehabilitating it on this tour. The best part of the concert was afterward though. We left a little bit early because my uncle wanted to beat the traffic and as we drove down the highway I looked to my right and saw a limousine with the windows down and sweaty men with towels over their heads in it. IT WAS THE JACKSONS!!! I excitedly pointed and told everyone in the car and we all waved and they smiled and waved back.
On Thursday, I called Chris to see if he remembered that, too, or if I had just dreamed it, but he recounted it just like I remembered. When we got back to Grandma's house (this is while my parents were still divorcing), Chris and I re-enacted the whole concert for our moms and Grandma. LOL!
Then there was the Victory tour. I was at my Granny's house and my cousin Chris called to say he was going to the concert in our hometown because a friend was taking him along. I had been calling into the radio contests for a month trying to win tickets and I started crying because he would go and I couldn't get tickets. I called my best friend, Candy (BTW we both had Michael Jackson curls at the time), and we hatched up a plan to run away from home so we could see this concert somehow. Thankfully somewhere along the way we realized that was just stupid, so I called Mama SLS and for the first and only time in my life I TOLD her what to do: "Get me tickets to see Michael Jackson. And do it NOW."
Rather than slap me through the phone for being cheeky, she actually understood where I was coming from, called Candy's mom and the two got us tickets to the concert in Knoxville, Tenn., and a week later they DROVE US across various states to see this concert. Candy and I wore our best MJ get ups complete with gloves and all that. I kept the ticket stub, souvenir book and other memorabilia under my mattress for years and years.
I spent a good part of my youth thinking I would marry Michael Jackson. I wrote him letters. I bought magazines and books about him, hung his posters, talked about him incessantly and joined his fan club. It tripped me out that people had to run out and buy his music on Thursday. Real fans, like myself, already had it in the rotation.
My family has been calling me for the past two days because they knew I would be upset about his death. My mother called TWICE to make sure I was OK. She knew. She knew.
I won't pretend that I wasn't disappointed about the latter part of MJ's life. But that's not the Michael I think of now. I pray for his kids and family as I know this has devastated them.
And I hope that Michael has found peace.
I leave you with this song, Destiny, which even as I kid I always thought spoke to the "real" Michael Jackson. Enjoy.