December 1983. I was 11 years old and in the sixth grade. I will always remember being at school, in class, though not which class it was. (Most likely music class.) I remember the teacher wheeled in a TV and VCR, and played Michael Jackson's Thriller in class -- the whole 13 minute movie. The teacher impressed upon us what an interesting and innovative new concept this mini-movie music video was. I also remember thinking how cool synchronized dancing zombies were. I also remember the chills when I heard Vincent Price's immortal rap.
Today, June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died from cardiac arrest. The autopsy will hopefully reveal what, if anything, contributed to his death. Some people are lauding his life, music, and genius, while others are condemning him even in the wake of his death. It seems you either loved or hated him as a musician. He was an easy target of jokes and slander, and we may never know the truth behind allegations of abuse that he settled in and out of court.
I neither ignore nor excuse the radical, instable behavior he exhibited during the last few years of his life. But I can, and do, separate Michael Jackson the artist from Michael Jackson the human being.
I will mourn him. I have been watching the news since I first heard the reports of him being taken to the hospital. I have been listening to his music on the radio and watching his videos. I will watch "Moonwalker", and if I can find it, "The Wiz". I will revel in the joy I have in hearing him sing and seeing him dance.
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'awl's neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller