Friday, June 26, 2009

I'll Be There

i heard about the passing of michael jackson like so many others did last night by overhearing a conversation on the street. i didn't think anything of it at first. i heard a woman on the subway say something to the effect of "he isn't the king of pop anymore". i just assumed that she was having some generic conversation about michael jackson. things became clearer, however, as i walked through prospect park on my way to the band shell to see femi kuti. as i walked down a path, some dude stopped the two guys in front of me and said "excuse me, but is it true that michael jackson died?" he didn't believe the news and needed confirmation. that was the moment when i knew he was dead. initially i had written off the woman's comment as just talk, but once there was more context to her comments, i knew what happened. that was the theme throughout the evening. my friends talked about how they heard his music playing all afternoon, but didn't know why and just wrote it up to a coincidence. and once you heard the news, you knew why.

but, perhaps the most poignant part of the evening was after the show ended (btw, femi kuti was AMAZING) and the post-show music came on. once femi left the stage, the sounds of "i'll be there" started to filter through the speakers and instead of emptying the venue out, people stayed. and cheered. and sang. and some cried. it was really a special moment that only music can provide. it united black and white, young and old in remembrance of the music of michael, not his weirdness. his music is what i hope people will remember him by because when he was on his game, he truly was the best.

as a young kid, i loved michael's music. i had a glove. i had a poster. i listened to his music and loved it. and i still do. there is a reason that thriller is the greatest selling album of all time. from start to finish it doesn't let up. every song could be a hit on its own. any song could be the best song on the album and on any other album would be. i remember the first time i saw the thriller video and how much it scared me. his videos always went above and beyond the rest.

no one could make a video like him. no one could sing like him. no one could dance like him. no one could do what he did. he was the best. i hope this is the michael jackson that lasts through the ages, because this is the michael jackson i will always remember.

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