Jun 26, 2009

Don't stop 'til you get enough

When I woke up this morning and heard Michael Jackson had died, my first thought was, "Now he won't suffer any more." I have never had the impression that he was a happy man, an impression supported by what I've heard about his childhood, his family, his plastic surgeries and the accusation of his molesting children. So my first thought was that he was now finally at peace. A genius with music, but not with living.

I do not write about celebrities, but Michael Jackson has the odd distinction of being one of only two celebrities I have ever said hello to in Los Angeles. It may sound weird, but you can live for years in Los Angeles and not meet any show biz people. All you have to do is not move in their circles. But sometimes circles overlap, if only momentarily.

It was the autumn of 1979. I was a computer temp, mainly working part time while I went to college in the morning. One job was for an accountant in Beverly Hills. We were four girls in one office, entering various accounting data, like cancelled checks for various clients.

One day some great music came from our boss's office. "What's that?" we wanted to know. "It's Michael Jackson's new solo album," we were told. Michael Jackson had released several solo albums as a child, but it was this album in 1979, produced by Quincy Jones, that launched Michael's adult career away from his brothers, The Jackson 5, and Motown. And one day, he was at our office. While being shown out after a visit with our boss, our boss stopped in our doorway and invited us to say hi to Michael. We cheerfully said "Hello, Michael!", seated at our computers, to Michael standing in the doorway. And we got a boyish and shockingly shy "hi" in return.

That did not stop us from buying "Off the Wall". And at a party one of my office mates invited me to, the record we played the most that evening was "Off the Wall". It was my first "grown-up" party, where I drove a girlfriend and myself, and we had wine, and we went home with a couple of guys for a bit, and by the time I got home, it was 6:30 am.

The opening track, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", is still a huge favorite of mine, and features Michael's soon-to-be iconic, falsetto vocal insertions (hiccups) without limitation. I remember we thought it was odd, but it worked. It worked well. "Off the Wall" was a huge hit, with several tracks he wrote himself and co-produced, and gave him and the music industry faith in the new direction of his solo career.

Michael was known for his glittering glove, but before the glove were his glittering socks, as shown on the cover of "Off the Wall". I bought the CD version on vacation in Germany several years ago, happy to reacquaint myself with a fond memory.

Thanks for letting millions of us rock with you, Michael.

11 comments:

Beep said...

I know there are tons of celebs where I live but I just never recognize them...and probably would never go up to them if I did. I am better with voices than faces and I'm not a big eavesdropper so I don't spot them.

I felt the same way about Michael--an end to suffering. Not to mention a way out of the massive commitments he had made to go for a comeback. If the comeback flopped it would have been hell for him. And frankly he didn't look physically well to me. As an ill person, when I looked at his upcoming schedule, I was exhausted just reading about it. I wondered very much if he had been pressured into it.

I don't know if he was a child molester or not. I live in the same county where his trial was but that didn't make it at all clear. But I have read about others with that sickness who have tried and tried to stop and even begged for death so they would not do it again.

I still play his music.

But I have to admit, his death and Farrah Fawcett's reminded me of when I was young and that I am no longer young. I've had other recent reminders of my mortality and just heave a big sigh whenever I bump into another one.

alice said...

Wow! That's a direct link to Michael Jackson! That's pretty hard core! The closest I get is that I dated a guy in college who dated Brooke Shields in high school, who, of course, dated Michael Jackson before he became a freak show....

Sravana said...

Very cool, Keera.

So I have 1 degree of separation from Jackson. Awesome.

My first reaction was a "meh" when I heard he'd died. I was talking with a couple of friends tonight, and that was their reaction as well. I guess I never got into his music, and was so horrified at what he'd become that I couldn't muster any sorrow.

Beep, you're right. He was a very sad person. Funny thing, though - usually when I hear of someone my age (I'm 1 1/2 years older than him) I start to feel my mortality, but not now.

I guess what I'm saying is that his death didn't surprise or shock me at all.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Beep, a discussion on Comics I Don't Understand (a favorite site of mine) pointed out that MJ was never found innocent, only not guilty, meaning the prosecution couldn't make its case. It will remain an open question whether Michael did or did not molest children.

I separate the man's personal life and his music. The latter is brilliant, and some of his lyrics are so thoughtful and spiritual (I love "Man in the Mirror"). He may have been a screw-up as a man, but as a fellow soul, he was awesome.

Alice, I think the whole "hard link" took less than 10 seconds. We girls in the office spent a lot more than that after he was gone, yapping about how totally unexpected his shy, meek response was.

Srav, 1 degree it is! But like you, I didn't have that jolt of "oh, no, someone my age!". I think it's because Michael Jackson doesn't count as a regular mortal. :-) Like Beep said on her blog, he didn't give the impression he was going to live long (and he even said so, several years ago).

Soup Dragon said...

So, what's the other celeb in you bag, Keera?

As for MJ, I think he was an undead zombie for the last 15 years or so.

Protege said...

This is one of your best posts. I think in your first paragraph you wonderfully summarized the truth about Michael Jackson.
I agree about the song, it is one of my favorite ones as well together with "Human Nature". I always loved his early stuff the best.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Soup, I can't remember his name. Robert or Richard something-or-other. I didn't like saying hello to him because his eyes were so cold.

Thanks, Protege! It's nice to get compliments for my writing. :-)

I have found MJ to be pretty consistent throughout his career, with later songs as good as earlier ones, updating enough to stay with the times.

Anonymous said...

hey, that girl was me!! didnt know tht was the reason of the party/ shoot I was drinking and only 16 or 17?? shocking;.not. kisses from me to you

Keera Ann Fox said...

That girl was indeed you. Wait, you were drinking? I missed that part. You were the reason I didn't get home till 6:30 am since I had to drop you off first. :-)

Anonymous said...

I dont remember drinking or not, now I can make up to you all the driving you did back then!

Keera Ann Fox said...

You drove me a lot the last two times I visited so don't feel like you still owe me. :-)