Friday, June 25, 2010

One Year Later - Remembering the Times (MJ)

A year ago today I left the newspaper with word that Michael Jackson was in the hospital. I got home and stayed glued to CNN, Facebook and Twitter as everyone was going crazy. I remember cussing out TMZ on Twitter for spreading the early rumor that MJ was dead but at the same time, one of my friends who worked at UCLA was telling me it was true. I'll never forget watching Wolf Blitzer saying those words that the LA Times confirmed Michael Jackson's death.

I had to write the story for the paper's website and it was without question one of the hardest pieces I ever had to write. With tears in my eyes, I tried to capture in 800-1,000 words the impact that one man had on music, pop culture, Black America and the world. I tried to do it on the blog last year as well.

A year later, we're left with more questions. Dr. Conrad Murray is on trial for his death but some believe there was a conspiracy behind it. My friend Miz Chartreuse gave a great take on it here. All I know is that "This Is It", he looked healthy and well and I don't know how he could've done 50 shows in a row but he was definitely not knocking on death's door.

But it doesn't take away the fact that for nearly 40 years, MJ impacted pop culture in a way that nobody did except a handful of people. Here's my favorite MJ songs in no order (I remember naming them on Twitter but I can't remember what I said).

Billie Jean - if you dont like this song, you fail musically
Dirty Diana
Black or White
Stranger in Moscow - a gem many have missed. One of his best written songs IMO
Break of Dawn
Beat It - MJ and Run-DMC rocked harder than most rock bands at the time. Fact.
Who Is It
Man in the Mirror
Smooth Criminal
They Don't Care About Us - an anthem I jammed out to twice today already.
Earth Song
Human Nature - Beautifully sampled by Nas and SWV as well as covered by Boyz II Men but beautiful on its own.

Of course, you can pop in any song and love what MJ did. His songwriting, musicianship, voice, dance moves, production and incredible vision remains unique and even though the last decade was spent fighting Sony, what he did will never be seen again. Prince and Madonna are the last of the dying breed of artists like these.

It's sadly ironic that an artist who broke down racial/country walls with his music ended up putting a wall behind him to escape the same fame and crush that defined him. Pop in "This Is It" and Remember the Time you fell in love with Michael Jackson's music.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the shoutout, E.

    I remember being in second grade and lying to my friend that I went to a Michael Jackson concert. My friend ran into the kitchen where my mom was washing dishes and asked for confirmation of my allegations. Standing behind my friend, I desperately looked at my mom and begged her (with my eyes) to agree. She did. My little girlfriend Nina was impressed.

    What an interesting, but incredibly vivid memory from my youth.

    MJ was a big part of my life as he was in others'. For the most part, none of us KNEW knew him, but something about him just can't let me believe the allegations. I know I sound all conspiracy theorist when I talk about the things I wrote about in my MJ blog, but I don't care.

    I don't know the truth for sure, but I can speculate given the evidence and understanding human nature better than the average media-guzzling consumer who believes whatever the tabloids write. I suppose I don't know what else to say about the matter.

    Until next June 25th, ey?