The Kid Is Not My Son
So a couple of weeks have passed, and everyone is probably burned out on all the Michael Jackson coverage, but I wanted to add my take on the man:
Baptist Hospital is located in downtown Pensacola, and while it's not the newest hospital in town, I can attest to the quality of their staff and the cleanliness of the place, because that's where my son was born in 2001. I had visited the hospital another time, although I can't remember for who or what reason. I do remember entering the hospital that day, because there were two black gentlemen out front, talking. One of the men was in a wheelchair, having an impassioned conversation. As I walked by them, I heard the man say, "People don't really understand Michael Jackson. He's not just a singer. The man is an entertainer."
Born not too far from where I currently live, in Gary, Indiana, Michael suffered abuse from his father. The guy started singing in the Jackson 5 at the age of 11, so I'm sure he might have had some memory of what it was like to not be a star, but I can't even imagine the kind of life one would lead being that famous for so long. Life is not easy for anyone, but to be in the spotlight so much, I would think, would tend to mess with your head.
A lot of people are quick to judge Michael based on his charges of child molestation. I just want to say, for the record, he was found NOT GUILTY in those cases, so if you want to banter about that, go ahead, but that's not what I'm here for.
A couple of items I'd like to share from Michael. I never really was "aware" of Michael as a kid. My mom may have mentioned to me around the Off the Wall that he was a child star at one point. I was busy listening to AM radio when I was 5, so maybe I got some of the Jackson Five at that time, but for the most part, they were part of the whole pop radio movement for me. "Ben" is probably the best song about a pet rat ever written:
I realized Michael was an entity once Off the Wall was released. I liked "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and the title track the most. Of course, "Rock with You" was probably the most popular tune, but truly, there's not a bad song on this album.
Of course, the "Billie Jean" video was the breakthrough. According to several resources, this was the video that broke the color barrier on MTV back in the 1980s. This always surprised me. I lived in Germany when MTV broke in the states, so I didn't have a point of reference. As far as I knew, when I started to go to the bars in 1982, there were rock videos playing. I remember "Billie Jean" being one of them, but I also remember Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" being one, as well as Helix's "Rock You." Don't ask me why my brain does this.
Thriller is the biggest-selling album in history for a couple of reasons: 1) Every song on the album is a hit; 2) The album transcends genres. Having Eddie Van Halen play a solo on a rockin' but still danceable tune? Pure genius. Having international fame didn't hurt, either.
In the end, Michael Jackson was a viewed as many different things by people; Singer, Maker of Great Videos, Breaker or Racist Barriers, Beautiful Freak, etc. But the main thing to remember is that the man was an entertainer.
Jez is not the one from Kajagoogoo, but you can move a little closer. He lives near the south shore of Lake Michigan and enjoys good beer alongside good music. You can check him out over at Fresh Beer Every Friday.