I was in my kitchen watching my mom get her hair done when it came across my TV Screen
News Anchor: News From California and it’s not good, Michael Jackson has died tonight at the age of 50...
The rest of what he said fades into the background, that sentence is all I need to head into a tail spin of sorts. I couldn’t believe it, Michael Jackson dead of a heart attack. It’s freaking crazy, I felt a profound sense of sadness and loss with the very concept that one of the greatest performers of all time is gone. I’ll stay away from all of the awards and record sales stuff because that will be discussed at length every time they talk about him from here on out. No I didn’t know him but for those people that seem to have a problem with his many fans grieving over his death I will attempt to explain.
Before discovering The Police and Rock Music when I was 6, it was virtually all Michael Jackson all the time. I was one of a million kids with a red leather jacket white socks and loafers trying (with no success) to Moonwalk. When dad brought home The first secular songs I ever performed as a kid were Michael Jackson songs (I remember doing Man In The Mirror at my first talent show in 5th Grade) mainly because those songs are bulletproof. You knew if the performance sucked it wasn’t the tune it was you. Even though I picked a guitar and the rock band format as my primary means of musical expression, Michael Jackson was always the blueprint you would refer to when you wanted to know about really ripping up a stage. If you were any kind of performer the guy really set the bar.
After Dangerous I had really stopped listening to his music, I wasn’t a fan of Invincible. But I always heard him everywhere and recently his influence began to creep up in the music I was making. I had been listening to Off The Wall a lot before we hit the studio last year and it’s a definite influence on Superego. We started doing Michael Jackson covers in the band, same concept as when I was 9, the songs are bulletproof. Our version of The Way you Make Me Feel Was always a crowd favorite.
I think he was most underrated as a songwriter; Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Billie Jean, Beat It, Another Part of Me, Wanna Be Starting Something, Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, Working Day and Night, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, I Just Can't Stop Loving You, Dirty Diana, I mean the list just goes on and on. This guy set the bar as far as writing these accessible pop songs that combined rock music with soul something that guys like Justin Timberlake usher and Maroon 5 still attempt to do today. As you go through the catalogue you’re kind of like “My God, this guy is a hit machine. It’s a shame that his off-beat behavior left him open to scrutiny and made him a punch line and that it took his death for people to realize what a powerhouse he truly was.
When I think about the past 26 years of my life, riding the bus to school with Michael Jackson mixtapes in my walkman, singing his songs at talent shows, trying to emulate his dance moves, impromptu dance parties at home where we’d throw on his music, car rides with the records spinning, playing his music in my ipod, playing his songs at my shows, it’s hard not to get emotional. The night that Adam Levine pulled me up on stage at the TLA to sing with Maroon 5, the very moment I credit for me continuing to pursue performing, the band came out to Thriller. Most recently P.Y.T. was my karaoke pick whenever we hit a karaoke spot on tour with Bang Camaro
For so many of us we grew up listening to his music, it’s so connected to people’s lives so when someone like that dies it’s like part of your life is lost, that childhood innocence of dragging around your first tape player listening to thriller. The pure joy you felt as a child, it’s like the wind’s been taken out of a lot of people’s sails. Will life go on? Of course it will, but this guy was a huger part of our collective consciousness that a lot of people realized. He’d become such a punch line in the later years of his life that we took for granted how much he meant to a lot of people as a performer, a musician, a songwriter, and an entertainer. There’ll never be another one, no matter how hard the new guys try, they’re all missing something that he had. Might be the last guy that was able to put all of it together.
It’s going to get ugly soon as we discover how he died, as people start fighting over the rights to his catalogue, custody of his kids (Who according to many meant the world to him) whatever money might be left, as the Michael Jackson jokes come back into play, etc. etc. For now we’ll remember the guy as we should, for the incredible music he left us over a 40 year period. In this era of disposable music name one person that’s been good for 40 years.
"Michael Jackson, like James Brown and Prince, are nearly uncoverable. The tunes were about his innate talent and can't really be replicated." -- John Mayer
Well here’s me and the guys from a show in January trying it anyway. We reworked The Way You Make Me Feel, like I said before it was always a crowd favorite.