How do you write an obituary for a King ? Quite frankly I don't know how. There isn't and there won't be an obituary which can do full justice to Michael Jackson - the King of Pop. Yet, I will try and share my feelings and memories here.
Michael Jackson, died at an unjust age of 50 at his reportedly rented home in Los Angeles on 25th June, 2009.
I recall listening to Thriller back in 1987 and although back then, it sounded like a funny creepy strange song, there were other songs on the Album like 'Beat It' which became instant favourites. Prior to that, I was introduced to songs by the Beatles, Cliff Richard and others, songs which my Dad loved and shared with me.
But MJ's songs were the only ones I knew back then which were not in my Dad's LP collection and were to be only found on audio cassettes at Deepak Radios in Sector 17, Chandigarh and typically once in a while playing on Doordarshan, especially during the Pre-Grammy and Grammy Award Shows which I was addicted to. So you can see, that I grew up, like a zillion others, listening to Michael Jackson's songs and even if we didn't understand a word of it back then, he seemed like a fascinating singer. In school, while in 5th grade I think, I recall someone mentioning that Michael Jackson's room gets pure oxygen or that he has undergone plastic surgery to look white. Many even argued whether MJ's a male or a female due to his rather odd appearance. These things stayed with us as interesting facts and points of discussion and you can imagine in a world where there was no Internet or even a cell phone, all this was so weird but so intriguing.
But Thriller wasn't the first MJ song that I came across. I remember an audio tape titled Grammy Hits 1986 which had 'We are the World', a song made for the benefit of Africa by a huge group of top American singers. Michael Jackson co-wrote that along with Lionel Richie and it was a huge hit.
We all remember buying audio cassettes of Bad and Dangerous during our school days and then swapping it with friends. I remember borrowing a 'Bad' tape from a friend and keeping it for a couple of weeks. I remember my liking for 'Smooth Criminal'...And then I saw a video tape of Moonwalker at our nearby video tape rental library. It was a weird but nicely made film with music videos and story portions and had MJ turning into a Transformers type Robot and finally into a spaceship. Last night when I dug up that video, it was a time trip down memory lane.
Dangerous, the album had so many cool songs including 'Give in to me', with the awesome stage performance video, 'Black or White', a cult classic number with an excellent video featuring some really nifty visual effects and introducing Morphing to the rest of us, the world peace number 'Heal the World' and of course 'Remember the time' with the Egyptian theme video featuring Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson and once again, groundbreaking visual effects.
The next song which I remember vividly was 'Stranger in Moscow' from the album 'HIStory'. I was in the 10th grade and this song is one of my super favourites to this day. The black and white slow mo video was just one of the best ever seen. I recently came to know that MJ wrote this song while on a trip to Moscow and during the height of child abuse allegations made against him and the song reflects his loneliness and as Wikipedia mentions 'fall from grace'. I recall listening to this song on a Meltrack tape again and again. I also liked 'HIStory' very much. I think that song has a much more profound meaning, now that Michael's no more..
And then came 'Earth Song', the powerful video and the song literally makes you weep. And this was back then when we hadn't even heard of Environmental Damage or the Greenhouse Effect. I think Michael Jackson was way ahead of his time in promoting environmental concerns. This song also won the hearts of various environmental protection groups worldwide.
After this came a visible lull in the popularity of MJ's songs. His album 'Blood on the Dance Floor' had some good tracks but were generally not chartbusters per se. My favourites from this album would be 'Blood on the dance floor' and 'Ghosts'.
Thereafter I lost touch with Michael Jackson's songs and infact most of us did as MJ kept sliding in and out of court cases and there were no albums released except for 'Invincible' in 2001 which was a moderate success. That was the last album from a now deteriorating Michael Jackson.
Not too long ago, I came across the video of one of MJ's oldest videos while he was a part of the Jacksons Five called 'Can You Feel It'. Its an amazing song featuring superb visuals for that time done by the now long lost 'Robert Abel & Associates'. There were so many other songs that I can go writing for hours.
I now look back and feel a profound sense of grief for someone who lived like a king and died in agony, despair and social isolation. I think amidst all the weird lifestyle, court cases, allegations, we all forgot, that below someone who ruled the hearts of millions of fans at one time, Michael Jackson was a human being who was running away from himself. Some of his songs like 'Man in the Mirror' have a very clear meaning in today's day and age when the entire human race is seeking a change.
For those of you who were born in the end 80s or the 90s, the MJ impact was not as real as it was for us born in the 70s and the very early 80s and though good music knows no bounds, its impact on society, culture and the masses varies with time.
And his death seems like an abrupt full stop to someone who deserved a second chance in his life....Listening to his songs now makes me go down memory lane to my own childhood days and its a tragedy that his death will mark the passing of an era and a true legend.....May You Rest In Peace Michael...We will always remember you as the King......