Michael Jackson: 1958 – 2009

Thriller was the first album I ever owned. I think I got it for Christmas in 1983 if I remember correctly. I loved that record. I wore the grooves out. I’m not embarrassed to say, that I even had a glove made of silver lamé and could do the moonwalk (well, maybe a little embarrassed). When the John Landis directed video for Thriller came out, it scared the hell out my siblings and I. My sister had a poster of MJ on her bedroom door. After we watched the video, we were scared shitless and couldn’t fall asleep until one of our parents took the poster down. “He’s a zombie! He’s gonna get us!”

When I was working as an assistant engineer in Chicago, one of the engineer/producers that made my life hell, but nonetheless taught me a lot, assisted Bruce Swedien on some of the Thriller sessions (That makes me 2 degrees away from Thriller. I might put that on my résumé). This same person also worked on the Superbowl Shuffle, so make of that what you will.

Anyway, Thriller was the only Michael Jackson album I ever had. I think after that I got 1984 from Van Halen and didn’t look back. I listened to Thriller again sometime last year when the 25th anniversary edition was released. “Thriller”, “Billy Jean” and “Beat It” really stand out, of course. The rest is good as well. The collaboration between MJ and Paul McCartney always reminds me of the bad blood that developed between them shortly thereafter.

Unfortunately, as we all know, his life turned into a tragic freak show of David Lynchian proportions after that. I suppose with his upbringing and celebrity situation, it shouldn’t be too surprising, but holy fucking shit, what a god damned freak show!

With all his problems and, ahem, dalliances, he was still a musical pioneer who contributed a lot to modern pop music. Was he a genius? Sure. Not really my kind of genius (again, the freak show), but a genius nonetheless.