i’m making this quick today…
the other day as i was cleaning my room, i began listening to many of your albums… despite doing this blog and engaging you as my teacher, i don’t always think about the brilliance of your art. i say this because i tend to speak of you outside of music and dance. listening to these albums though, always helps me to remember. and then i get distracted because i begin to sing and dance, forgetting what i was doing.
the day after i cleaned my room, i learned that yesterday (the 24th) was the 40th anniversary of the day your work was presented to the world, in album form- ‘got to be there’- the first major artistic statement made without your brothers alongside you. yes, you heard them singing in the background on occasion; you also saw them perform songs from this album with you live. still, this was an historic mark which sealed your fate in a way, for better or for worse…. and perhaps to the consternation of your father and brothers. history (in the sense we all are familiar with when it comes to you) may have not yet been made- again though, the fate was sealed with this one little venture.
before ‘beat it’, ‘thriller’ or motown 25 entered the subconscious of the public at large; my mother used to play ‘wings of my love’ on rotation. there was always one or two songs an album she’d repeat, over and over and over… for the ‘got to be there’ album, that was one of them. to me, it was different than much of the motown ‘hits’ she’d been playing. you didn’t hear the metronome-like presicion or the formula which made the label recognizable. it sounded ultimately like a jazz tune, or a pop standard. i remember songs like ‘wings of my love’ being close to my heart than ANYTHING by the four tops or the supremes. i remember the pop in the vinyl, that glorious string introduction… i don’t even know if, as a child, i made the connection that it was even you without your brothers.
and even though i knew there were covers on the album, i remember having appreciation for the arrangements. having grown up on motown, when i heard your rendition of the supremes’ ‘love is here and now you’re gone’, i found it refreshing… was it me making that connection with the youthful reading of your rendition? i don’t know.
i grew up with you and your brothers (in both jackson 5 and jacksons’ form), and ‘wings of my love’ has always stayed in my heart, more than any other tune from those eras. even if i’ve expanded my aural palate with your works as well as others, there’s a sentimentality to it i can’t shake.
i remember being a kid and falling in love with your fro. to me, you had the greatest fro i had ever seen on earth. as far as i am concerned, that is uncontested. even though you and i essentially have the same (or similar) hair texture, there’s something about your crown that makes me so happy. you can tell it was well taken care of. you had a WHOLE LOT OF HAIR. it was quite thick. you actually saw how thick (and long) your hair was in the aftermath of the infamous ‘pepsi accident’. i also appreciate seeing the variety of textures. like my hair, your hair had its moments of wavy (with some straighter) in the midst of all the coiled textures… even during the bad tour you could see some of that variety and chaotic beauty which is ‘our hair’. i would not trade it for anything.
i wanted more than anything to have an afro, but i didn’t think my mother would let me get one, because it appeared to be ‘un-presentable’. she never said this to me; however, with the hot combs which turned into relaxers- plus the unfavourable comments toward my (and my sister’s) kinky/curly texture, i didn’t even bother to ask if an afro was an option. all i could do was longingly gaze at the album covers…
and of course, i am fulfilling one of my childhood dreams right now, as i now DO proudly wear a fro. after the relaxers, i ended up shaving my head for a few years in response. interestingly, i never got jheri curls, care free curls or anything like that. i didn’t follow the ‘michael jackson (TM) hair trend’… HA! after years of having very little hair, i grew locs. i still thought about wearing a fro during those years. i cut my locs after 11 years because of the negative events happening in my life- that energy was very much in my hair. despite feeling very free without the negative energy, i still wasn’t taking care of myself, or my hair. due to that, my hair would fall out in clumps. i began to educate myself on caring for my hair… and now, i have a big ‘ol fro! persistence, and patience, pays off- as i’m sure you know.
alas, i digress yet again.
i am thankful every day for having been on this earth to have experienced your brilliance, your wisdom… your art; and to be old enough to have seen you develop at least some of this… to grow up seeing you and your brothers, never even expecting what was to come- establishing a home for your creative essence and teachings, on earth and beyond…
and as i write this on the 25th of january; it is now officially 2 1/2 years since that fateful announcement of your transcendence. and as i am still saddened by that announcement; i know now is not the time to focus on that sadness, thus expelling that energy to the world. if i made the conscious decision to be nice to myself this year, i am going to work towards utilizing that same energy to others.
make that change.
and change, some people are doing. you know the school you went to once, in the 6th grade? the same school which, due to the trial, covered up your name and then, after your transcendence uncovered it in dedication of their auditorium? well, this school has opened up a music lab in your honour.
“School officials unveiled the new Michael Jackson Music Education Laboratory Monday morning at the pop star’s former elementary school.
The lab is set up in Jackson’s old sixth-grade classroom. Principal Kenneth Urbina said the goal is “to have every child leave the school musically talented.”
The lab is the result of a community effort involving the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council, the Youth Policy Institute, which donated computer hardware, and Adventus, a Canadian company, which donated the lab’s computer software.
“I personally think music can do amazing things for kids especially at a young age,” said Marcello Robinson, a board member of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council.”
as you know, i don’t always support posthumous events done in your honour (because they appear exploitative to me); however, due to the work of the respective communities involved here- plus the goal of the lab to support young people in honing their artistic talents- i wholeheartedly support this, and hope it is able to continue… ESPECIALLY since so many music programs in schools are dwindling. i feel that programs like this are the perfect continuation and honouring of the teachings.
if we can focus our energy on seeing to it that our communities are provided for (with the goal of self-sufficiency), then we WILL be able to see a lot of positive change.
and somehow, i know you are smiling at some of the steps taken to get there.