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25 Year Radio Veteran, Sean Anthony is the Host of "Flow of Wisdom Radio." It airs live Sundays 3p-5p EST on the GCN Radio Networks (gcnlive.com.) Call in 877-300-7645. He is also the author of "Conversations With Hip Hop" available on Amazon.com

The Day I Met Michael Jackson

Written by: Ray Ford
Listening to “Dear Michael” by: Michael Jackson
Follow me on Twitter @rayford23

What can I possibly write about Michael Jackson that hasn’t already been said or written? Simply put, nothing—every stage of his life, every note and lyric of his music, every rhythmic movement, and every visual image of him has been dissected under a pop cultural microscope, not to mention being scrutinized under a sociocultural one. The unfortunate irony of Michael Jackson is that the greatest entertainer of our time evolved into a source of public entertainment and ridicule. Remember the Tommy Davidson skit from the 1990s sketch comedy series In Living Color—“Am I Black or White,” which suggested that Michael Jackson questioned his racial identity. Even more disturbing was when the media began referring to him as Wacko Jacko—a judgmental stigma that turned a media darling into a psychologically insulting caricature. Notwithstanding some of Michael Jackson’s odd behavioral patterns, the media sort of stole his legacy from us by focusing more on the man and not the music. So I propose that on this day, the fourth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, we redeem the media’s shameful innuendo by continuing to uplift his legacy.

There’s just something about Michael Jackson that conjures the memory of a certain time and place in our lives—as children and adults. He represents an undeniable sight and sound, and his untimely passing caused all of us to “Remember the Time” (pun intended) when we actually met him. In the foreword of Joseph Vogel’s book, Man in Music: The Creative Life and Works of Michael Jackson, Anthony DeCurtis said, “In this one specific sense his death was a blessing: it forced people to re-encounter his artistry and to realize once again how important he had been to them, how much his music had meant to their lives. For younger people who had not grown up with Michael Jackson, it provided perhaps their first opportunity to hear his music [and see his performances] free of clichéd preconceptions about him” (xii). To be clear, my definition of met has nothing to do with meeting Michael Jackson face-to-face—few of us actually had the opportunity, but it has everything to do with the day that he captured our hearts and minds with his ingenuity. For it was the realization of his creative visions, sonically and visually, that caused us, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, to feel like we knew him personally.

For most us, Michael Jackson is sight and sound–a noun and a verb. It is quite difficult, if not impossible, to hear the song “Thriller,” without being bombarded by the mental image of Michael Jackson in a candy-apple-red jacket with black stripes, the coldest Jheri curl to date, and performing the most memorable (and mimicked) dance routine since Gene Kelly’s in Singing in the Rain. Moreover, it’s equally difficult to hear “Billie Jean” without trying to secretly step on a square of pavement in hopes that it just might light up this time—don’t worry, we all have done it. Very few artists, if any, have had that kind of affect on not only popular culture, but people in general.
So, when did you first meet Michael Jackson? Are you old enough to have seen him perform “I Want You Back” on the Ed Sullivan Show with his brothers? Are you an Off The Wall, Thriller, or even a Bad kind of person? How many of you still get chills when you see him moonwalk across the stage when he performed Billie Jean on the Motown 25 special? I met Michael Jackson when he played the scarecrow in the film adaptation of The Wiz and it became clear to my parents that I was going to be a huge fan, when at the age of seven, I cried when he was cut in half by Eveline (The Wicked Witch of the West). I have since had extensive debates about who would best fit the role of the scarecrow if the film were ever remade. So when did you meet Michael Jackson? I would also be interested to know your ten favorite songs–feel free to include songs he made with his brothers.

Here are mine:
Working Day and Night – Off The Wall (1979)
All Night Dancin’ – Destiny (1978)
Dear Michael – Forever, Michael (1975)
Burn This Disco Out – Off The Wall (1979)
Everybody – Triumph (1980)
The Lady in My Life – Thriller (1982)
Butterflies – Invincible (2000)
Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough – Off The Wall (1979)
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Thriller (1982)
We’re Almost There – Forever, Michael (1975)

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