This wasn’t going to be my first post, but Michael Jackson’s death has caused me to reminisce like mad and led me to recall childhood memories that shouldn’t really have been forgotten in the first place. Which I guess goes to show how special those childhood memories are (especially the happier ones). In a way this is my tribute to the man’s music whilst skipping through a happy trip down memory lane.
It’s funny how memory works, sure you gather plenty of them over the years, but somehow some seem to slink into the shadows of time only to be brought back out later when something jolts them out of obscurity. In this case, it was memories of the very early nineties and my first proper introduction to pop culture and music which have been dragged back into the sunlight.
Growing up in the mid-late eighties neither of my parents were particularly into contemporary music or pop culture and as the eldest I had no older sibling to emulate (or to not emulate). This meant I had to amass bits and pieces of this magical world in a rather disjointed fashion from kids’ TV, movies and the school playground. That was until I discovered that I could tune my radio to any station I wanted, not just the concert programme that the parents listened to. Now believe me, this was a revelation! Suddenly I had a better idea what the other kids were talking about in the playground (even if it didn’t make me any cooler it did open up a whole new world and that was cool). I could now form my own opinions about what I liked and why I liked it. Needless to say this paved the way to the obligatory teenage rebellion once I discovered the allure of rock music…
Anyway, at this time MJ was HUGE and had been so for quite a while. The singles from Bad and then Dangerous were getting plenty of discussion in the schoolyard, not to mention the legendary singles from Thriller…This was the time when I bought my first album (which was – inevitably – a cassette of Thriller), the time when me and my brother saw Moonwalker for the first time and then spent hours trying to clock the eponymous game on the Master System 2 (seriously did anyone clock this game?!). In essence Michael Jackson was my first proper introduction to contemporary music and pop culture. Sure there were other artists that caught my interest but there were a few more years before I became to really know them as artists. At this time Jackson ruled supreme and he was the first complete entertainer to ever show up on my own music radar. I’m sure this was the case for many other kids out there and it means that now his music conjures up good memories from a time when you could just enjoy life with the innocence of youth and in a world that was a much simpler place.
Over the years this memory has faded as I discovered, re-discovered and stumbled upon different genres of music and different artists. It’s only now, at his untimely passing and with the massive airplay that his music is receiving, that these memories are being dredged up. John Mayer twittered it well when he said
I think we’ll mourn his loss as well as the loss of ourselves as children listening to Thriller on the record player
For the family and friends of Jackson they’ve lost a son, brother, father and friend and that is a tragedy and something that rightly deserves sympathy. But for the fans and those who have enjoyed his music as a soundtrack for their youth we’re now in a world where a part of our childhood has gone. I won’t pass any judgment on the man, that’s not my place, but as an artist he is in an elite group of entertainers that truly left their own mark. And now I can appreciate that for a period of time his music created an indelible imprint on my life that causes me to smile and fondly reminisce when I hear it. In the end I think that is a wonderful legacy to leave.
Anyway, what do you think? What memories does his music leave you with? What are your musical memories from childhood? And finally – are you one of those who actually did clock Moonwalker?