“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change..”
Wow. What a week this was. Or at least, what a crazy, surreal past 48 hours these were.
I had no intention of writing a blog about the passing of Michael Jackson; or about Farrah Fawcett (-Majors, still to those of us in a time warp). Or even Ed McMahon. (it is true that celebrities go in threes) However, here I am on an early Saturday morning, and I am doing just that.
Yes, I’m a child of the 70’s. I grew up wearing bell-bottom pants, doing ‘The Hustle’, and had a Dorothy Hamill haircut (thanks Mom). Short people had “… no reason to live…”, oil embargoes were common-place, and women burned their bras. Secretariat blazed his way through the Triple Crown, onto three national magazine covers, and into my heart.
I ‘came of age’ in the early 1980’s….the era of Reaganomics, the beginning of the space shuttle program, big hair and parachute pants (you ought to see my high school yearbook (no, not me…my classmates!). A large part of my junior and senior years of high school (class of ’85) was the launch of MTV. Cable TV was in its infancy back then, so a channel devoted entirely to music and music videos was ground-breaking stuff. Now, growing up in the small town of Bad Axe…well, kiddos, the version of cable television we had back then consisted of, at most, about 10 stations or so. (most of them were ‘duplicates’, so to speak…2 NBC affiliates, for example, one local, one out of Detroit, etc.).
In order to get any sort of ‘real’ cable stations, you had to have a satellite dish. No, not ‘DISH network’ or ‘Direct TV’, with a small dish attached to the roof of your house. You had to have a big, honkin’ satellite dish plopped in your yard. Usually took up a good portion of your yard, too; certainly wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. But, man, if your family had a dish….you were COOL!
One of my classmates, Kim Janderwski (or was it Jandereski? anyway, a good Polish name, none the least) had one. Kim and I were friends, but not best pals, by any means. However, she was pretty tight with my best friend, Donna Eilers. So, I got to go over to Kim’s quite a bit to watch this new MTV channel. And, man, it was something.
Music videos by Journey, REO Speedwagon, The Go-Gos (love them! “Vacation, all I ever wanted…vacation, had to get away…” my brother Perry always called them The Bozos…heheh), and Pat Benatar. The true revolutionary, though, was Michael Jackson. MTV owes everything to the King of Pop, there is no doubt.
It’s unfortunate that for the last decade or so, Michael Jackson has/had been remembered as sort of a caricature of himself. Too many plastic surgeries and too many scandals. Honestly, I have to admit, I hadn’t really given Michael much thought until the shocking news of his death on Thursday. I didn’t listen to or read the gossip columns about his personal life. I honestly didn’t care. I always have loved his music, though. From the days with the Jackson 5 to his huge solo career.
Yes, I knew he was planning a comeback; a series of concerts starting next month in London (the European press always seemed much more forgiving of him than that here Stateside). You know, it didn’t dawn on me that he has/had 3 children. I knew I was aware of 2…..but not the third….anyway…
How many of you remember that back in the early to mid-70’s, when the Jackson 5 were big, that Alpha-Bits cereal had Jackson 5 records on the back of their cereal boxes?? Yes, you cut them out; they were 45’s (remember those?) that were very much playable. “ABC”, “I Want You Back”….I had them all. I don’t any longer, but I did back then. And no, I’m not making this stuff up!
I remember Michael’s early solo career….”Off the Wall”, “Rock with You”….several TV specials with Diana Ross. However, as we all know, he exploded onto the scene with his performance on the Motown 25th Anniversary Special, in the spring of 1983. It was my sophomore year of high school…..and WOW! All anyone could talk about the next day was “did you see Michael Jackson at the Apollo????” We *all* were trying to figure out how to moonwalk.
Now, by that point, MTV had been around for almost 2 years. It was still struggling a bit; however, ‘Billie Jean’ and Michael really broke down any and all barriers, and launched the station into orbit (pardon the pun). The ‘Thriller’ album was HUGE…’Billie Jean’, “Beat It’, “P.Y.T.”, etc., to name a few. And yes, I’m proud to say, I own the original Thriller ALBUM from 1982. Yes, vinyl, kiddos!! And I still own a turntable…that I can actually play it on. Wooo, I’m old! I do own a Michael Jackson CD, too….”History” which was released in 2001 (if I remember correctly); it’s a ‘greatest hits’ compilation. I remember my ex-husband getting on my case for buying it…..but I digress…Anyway, I’m playing it now, as I write this.
Music videos were huge, back in the day…..how many of you realize that Martin Scorsese (yes, THAT Martin Scorsese) directed the video for “Bad”???? Or that John Landis (The Blues Brothers, etc.) directed “Thriller”??? Boy, I wonder whatever happened to those guys???? 😉
I guess what I’m trying to say, no matter how much we all try to deny it, is that Michael Jackson and his music were a part of the soundtrack of our lives at one point or another. Yes, he meant more to some of us than to others. All of us know his music though. Whether it was “ABC” with the Jackson 5, or “Rock with You”, “Thriller”, or “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin'”…we all are familiar with a Michael Jackson song. Let’s remember him for the incredibly talented artist that he was…..not the troubled soul that the media focused on.
Rest in peace, Michael. I will miss you…part of my youth died with you.
Remember………Don’t stop ’til you get enough…
P.S. Many apologies….I realize that this entire entry is devoted to Michael, and not Farrah or Ed……