I remember one of my friends who had relatives in America brought the VHS tape over to our house. I put the tape into the VCR. We watch it, we hear the heartbeat, we see the Gravestone … SMOOTH CRIMINAL.Then dead silence.The neo – ancient Egyptian woman turns her head. Fingers crack. A cat purrs. Hat’s poised leaning over one eye like the past about to explode into life. Clothes rustle. Then Michael Jackson appears in a white suit -shining. He tosses a coin. For the longest time it falls into place in the jukebox. It feels like the whole beat of the song is taken away from the instruments and given to his body -it jerks, slows time, wheels.. His body seems to mark time and seems to move not with time and the beat, but in a relationship with it. He has detached his body from those restraints. He is teasing time and space. His body is a needle, ducking head first into the stiff fabric of the world we know. The whole sepia coloured past world is tucked into his trousers. Now he scrambles history with his bod. He is more flexible than physics. He is a plastic man and cannot fail. My jaw drops. I am gob smacked. I am entertained
I remember after that,I wanted to be Michael Jackson. Forget having moves like Jagger. I wanted to move like Micheal, to sing like him and to dress like him. I also remember me and my younger brother, who was always the better dancer dressing up and doing our best MJ impressions in our parents lounge. Our well rehearsed routines became standard entertainment at family functions. Ah the good old days. For a long time until sometime in the mid 90’s when I fell in love with Hip Hop MJ and his music would be my staple diet. His music was the be all and end all of my musical world.
Today Michael Joseph Jackson would have turned 54. Its hard to believe that its been three years already already since the greatest entertainer to ever grace the stage passed away. I remember I was living in Melbourne at the time. As was my morning routine I had the TV turned to the Sunrise show as I was readying myself for another day on the grind. It was then that world stopped for a while. The news had slowly started to come through. Michael Jackson was dead. I was in shock. I didn’t want to believe it.
I remember on the tram to work I was practically a zombie. By the time I made it to my cubicle my eyes were blood-shot red. am sure I looked hung over. I was very much sober. On my way into work I hadn’t been able to hold back the tears – but it would turn out to be a long day of mourning before I would be all cried out. I remember one of my work mates asking me “Are you OK Taf? You look like a mess.” “Micheal is gone” I replied..I can still see the look on her face now, a picture of confusion and sympathy. ” Who is Micheal?” she probed. ” Micheal Jackson. The King is dead” I replied, holding back the tears.
‘I don’t recall doing much work the rest of that day. What I do remember is obsessively refreshing web pages on news websites for updates, all the while secretly hoping and praying that it was all some elaborate hoax. As the hours ticked on and more sources confirmed the death it all started to sink in. It was real. In the words of of Kanye “Something wrong/I hold my head/ MJ gone, Our nigga dead” The Dictator of my musical childhood was gone. Too soon. Ever since that day one of my biggest regrets is that I never got to see the man perform live.
My father was a huge MJ fan. In our house growing up I was exposed to a lot of Micheal Jackson’s music. From the early Jackson 5 vinyl records to the Off The Wall and Thriller cassette tapes, played the soundtrack to my childhood. One of my earliest memories of MJ’s music is from a song of his album Off The Wall. My Dad used to play the cassette all the time especially in his car. I remember my Mum, as if on cue would go to repeat the story of how after Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980 that was the music of the moment. She would tell me how people would replace some of the lyrics in the song Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough to ‘Mugabe is the Prime Minister’. Unknowingly MJ had provided the soundtrack to many a Zimbabwean at the time they were celebrating their Independence and were still filled with optimism about their new leader.
Such was Michael’s influence. On my part at the time I was too young to make sense of the lyrics. All I knew is that I felt the rhythm and it made me want to boogie all night long. Well at least until my parents sent me off to bed. Then there was that Thriller video. I don’t think I had ever seen anything like it. Ever. I was moved, frightened, mesmerised, excited, and confused all at same damn time.
With the exception of the music of Tracy Chapman and Oliver Mtukudzi, MJ’s music is the only other music that My Dad and I have both really love and to this day still enjoy and share together. If for just that alone, Micheal is the greatest musician I have ever listened to.
MJ was more than just a musician. He was a cultural icon. He was a humanitarian. MJ touched millions of fans like me and inspired and moved us all through his music and dance. His legacy will live on. Forever. If I should have a son I hope that I too will be able to share MJ’s music together with him, the same way I have done over the years with my own Dad. That is the best gift MJ gave me and I will always be grate
Happy birthday MJ. Your music lives on!