As an avid fan, I am still perturbed by both the abruptness and certain avoidable nature of his death…even one year after his passing. And I know myself…therefore I know I will forever feel this way.
As I was driving this morning, many radio stations played their tributes to his collection of work. This got me thinking as to why Mr. Jackson still remains such a huge influence in my life, as well as the lives of others.
I mean, I never even met the guy…although my father has. When he was younger, growing up in Pittsburgh, my father used to park cars at some of my Uncle Rocco’s garages in downtown Pittsburgh.
(Yes, Uncle Rocco and parking garages. I’ve heard all the Godfather-esque comments by now, so save it…as I’m sure you’ve also heard how handy we Italians are with cement.)
Anyway, one day a van pulled into the arena parking lot containing a group of young men from Indiana. Poised and polite. Confident and friendly. The Jackson 5 had arrived.
My dad, also a huge fan of The Jackson talent pool, tells the story much better…and with a twinkle in his eye (which he will probably deny). But alas, I guess I have met Michael via one degree of separation.
For me, Michael’s music triggers stellar memories of a carefree childhood in the 1980’s. Things like my record player. The smell of a new vinyl album, particularly Thriller…I remember it like it was yesterday. The way I couldn’t wait to tear through the plastic cover. Things like the ‘Beat It’ jacket one of my big brother’s friends would let me wear during the high school basketball games. It was ten times my size, but I knew I was uber cool. Watching Michael perform Billie Jean live at the awards show. I mean, really…anyone who ever has the nerve to question his talent, I just direct them to that video footage and they are forever changed.
And I think that is why so many people relate to him after all this time. His gentle nature and huge heart were evident in hearing him speak. Something about him and his music…it lets us go back to certain times, certain places. Music has the power to link people, cultures, races…and offer such comfort.
And he will forever be the golden link of this ever-growing musical chain.