Remembrances and Inspirations
Like so many others all over this world, the death of Michael Jackson grabbed hold me in a way that was suffocating, I could barely breathe for a few moments. Growing up, as far as I was concerned, Michael was basically my older brother. He was like a part of my own family or rather I was a part of his…or something like that.
Needing to sit down as the news on CNN was breaking, first it was a stroke, then a coma, and with heavy finality, he was gone. Gone? Wow.
Searching for photographs online and music videos on YouTube, like magic I am transported to a time of my youth when life was more simple. My mind alters where no negativity can penetrate. I should remember to do this the next time I’m feeling kinda down.
I suppose my earliest memories were Saturday mornings with a bowl of Trix cereal. The Jackson 5 cartoon would be on in a few minutes. This was the routine. As usual sitting too close to the TV, I was right up front until my mother would inevitably tell me to move back.
If only video cameras were more common back in the day, my family would have some crazy ass videos of me doing my brother’s dance moves. As usual with a makeshift prop, the 45 record adapter was my microphone, with every step, and every spin I was right there.
Wanting to be like my older brother, I tried my best to shape up my ‘fro just like Mike’s. Later I would build a wood guitar so I could take turns going between Jermaine and Michael. Jermaine was actually very talented and doesn’t really get enough love for his skills. You know that “Do What You Do” song was the jam, don’t lie. (I just wish I could convince him to get rid of the flat top). Anyway, it took me the entire weekend, but eventually I was able to make a pretty cool guitar with a square plank of wood, several 2×4’s, and about five long rubber bands were my strings. Lastly, I would nail an old leather belt for my shoulder strap. (That sucka was kinda heavy!)
In the fourth grade, I went to Bellagio Road Elementary School with one of Quincy Jones daughter’s, Tina. We all called her Martina at the time. She was having a birthday party at her house and all I could think about was Quincy Jones helped Michael with his career and maybe, just maybe he’d discover ‘my’ talent so I could be rich and famous too.
Mr. Jones was indeed there and planned a dance contest. The winner would win an autograph copy of “The Wiz,” the urban stage play rendition of “The Wizard of Oz” starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. So the dance contest was on. All of us kids go in Soul Train line formation, one by one we had a chance to do our thing and do it right.
I won’t tell you who won, but let’s just say I still have that autographed album.
“Ben” was truly was one of my favorite songs. For some reason I didn’t even think about the idea I was singing about some dude named Ben and not instead a girl named Brenda. Then, to later find out worse, it was about a damn rat! Well, nevermind, I still love the song to this day
In many ways this next song first inspired me to write poetry and letters and stories about love. Seeing my brother so emotional to the point his voice was crackling as the song closes made me seriously ponder about these strange yet addicting creatures called, “girls” and their potent affect on us!
(…and I’ve learned… that love- won’t- wait — that’s my part!)
I have defended my brother against so many accusations with unwavering faith feeling somehow, someway if anybody knew his soul, it was me. In regards to his skin and the whole issue that he didn’t want to be Black and he was bleaching his skin, it’s all bullshit. Untrue. False. Negative. Perhaps this reminder video will change a few minds or at least open them.
Now granted I prefer my brother’s earlier years, make no mistake about it, I was still rolling with him during the peak of his musical career and really it was Michael that put the music video on the map. I remember there was always so much anticipation for the “New Michael Jackson video.” Always a big production, here a few videos that stand out for me:
Remember the Time (long version, w/ Eddie Murphy, Iman, Magic Johnson)
In The Closet (w/ Naomi Campbell)
You Rock My World (Long version w/Chris Tucker, Michael Madsen)
I believe it gets lost how passionate my brother was about the social issues of the world: racism, poverty, abuse, and so much more. Maybe I am overreacting, but I believe this next video is one of the best music videos ever created. While not one of his more popular works, it is beautifully done and its meaning is golden. Literally gives me chills every time I see it.
Stranger In Moscow / Earth Song
Yes, I’m going to miss my brother, but thank God I have his music, his videos, and my own memories to always keep him near.