Like all of you, I was stunned to hear that Michael Jackson died yesterday. It’s not that I have illusions of immortality for the King of Pop – or anyone else for that matter. It’s just that I felt so sure he’d be entertaining us for much longer. He’s been a musical presence for my entire life. This morning on The Today Show, Meridith Viera commented that she remembers dancing to Jackson Five records in her room when she was in junior high. I mean, think about it, for almost as long as he was alive, he was a source of entertainment and, sadly, a spectacle.
Like Meredith, I have my own Michael Jackson memories. I stayed up late at Becky Gordon’s house to watch the primetime premiere of Thriller. I had a silver glove. My sister and Christina Johnson had a multi-year romance with his albums. My elementary school music class performed We Are The World.
This man – no matter how kooky you think he is – has taken up permanent residence in the lexicon of our past. And yet I’m comforted that the passing of greatness does not mean his influence is gone. Two of the most important musical acts in my life are The Beatles and Bob Marley and the Wailers — both groups had essentially disbanded by the time I was born. But thanks to my father’s nonstop encouragement of their music on us, my brother, sister and I have those songs forever recorded in our heads and imprinted on our hearts. I have a feeling that Michael Jackson will have a lasting effect as well. Life comes full circle – so share your favorite Michael stories with others. Play your records for your kids. Do the moonwalk. Sustain a legacy.