It was the summer after seventh grade and Randy Close and I were a couple. In preparation for a road trip to Magic Mountain with Danielle, Tiffany, Ginger, David and younger brothers Kevin and Chris, Randy and I listened to the Thriller cassette tape over and over again until we knew every word to every song.
As we all piled in the Close’s van, we begged to play the Thriller tape. Without hesitation, Randy and I could sing, “Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa” as our friends looked on in amazement that we actually knew the words.
Our group of friends always loved to go dancing, and we tried very hard to copy those moves, the fluid movement of the legs, the kicks and that unforgettable moonwalk. Who can forget the Grammy performance where Michael Jackson moon walked across the stage inspiring hours and hours of practice among any of us who had an ounce of desire to capture that coolness?
I remember very clearly the day that upperclassman Camille got to go to the Michael Jackson concert. Everyone knew that she was going. And the next day she returned from the concert without a voice, it was that ridiculously fun. We wanted to hear every detail of the concert. Super jealous.
High school airband competitions were popular during my high school years and I remember the junior class members doing the entire Thriller dance sequence on our theater stage.
His songs were a part of every teenage year of mine and my friends’. His music shaped our childhood in so many ways. Even when he came out with Bad, and returned to the pop-music scene physically altered, he still remained the “it” guy for us.
I don’t know what happened to Michael, what made him become the sheer freak of nature that he was, the Wacko Jacko that made headlines. I don’t think any of us want to imagine what it was like to live his life under such scrutiny. Who wouldn’t turn a bit fruity?
I’m choosing to remember him in his Thriller days. That is the Michael Jackson I want to mourn. That is the Michael Jackson I’ve mourned for years, already.
On the Bright Side,
If you haven’t heard the news, Michael Jackson turned fifty today. Michael Jackson. 50. Wow.
I’m sure we all have memories of the King of Pop. Mine are from junior high. The summer between 7th and 8th grade. Randy and I were the ‘it’ couple of the summer. The Thriller album had just come out. We spent about two days doing nothing but listening to that cassette tape and memorizing the lyrics. A few days later, Randy and I went to Magic Mountain with Tiffany, Ginger, Danielle and David. All the way up to Ventura, Randy and I sang Ma Ma Se Ma Ma Sa Ma Ma Coo Sa, Ma Ma Se Ma Ma Sa Coo Sa of “Pretty Young Thing” without missing a beat. We were so cool.
Madge recently turned 50, too. High school was all about Madonna. I remember wearing white shoe boots with a white skirt and a jean jacket with some scarf thing, thinking I was a wee little bit like her. I loved her music, but when she rolled around on the stage singing “Like a Virgin” at the Grammys, I knew I wasn’t ever going to be that kind of girl. A bit too rough around the edges. I was a little (ok – a lot) more preppy and clean cut than that. All of my friends were.
And Prince. He turned 50 in June. The itsy, bitsy dynamo who loves purple. His songs defined many moments of my teenage years. At every school dance we tried to party like it was 1999, even though we had no idea what 1999 would look like, and boy was that SO far off in the future. That year has come and gone – Was it all we thought it would be? If anyone saw him perform at this year’s Superbowl, you know he’s still got it. Freaky little dude. But he’s still got it.
With my 20 year high school reunion approaching next weekend, and the news that these icons of my youth are 50, I suppose I’m feeling a bit old today. Just more a sense of disbelief, really. Where DOES the time go? And what the hell happened to Michael Jackson? Really.
As I was browsing the net, I found a couple of good articles about Michael, Madonna and Prince. Have a look. And let me know how you feel about celebrating their 50th.
On the Bright Side,