June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson: Spirit Dancer

Michael Jackson

When I was sixteen, I hated Michael Jackson. Nearly every girl that I knew had a Michael Jackson poster on her wall. I'd enter the room and there would be Michael Jackson smiling above her bed--it should have just said, "Michael was here." Talk about a mood killer. And to top it, we were both the same age!

Still, I couldn't envy the man. Not only because he was a genius, but because I felt an affinity for him as a fellow Jehovah's Witness. And I know how a religion like that can weigh down the soul.

For Michael was born to sing, he was born to set our souls on fire--to show us how a spirit body could soar.

Year after year Michael would create great music. In Jamaica, I'd stand there at a party waiting for the moment, hoping for a slow dance when the DJ would play "Got to Be There" or "Ben." If I got that dance, things would be looking up--that is until he'd stare at me again.

I continued to listen Michael's music when he played with my hero Bob Marley in Jamaica, and when I came to Miami, hoped again that they'd play "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You" at a disco in Miami. In those early days in Miami, nobody knew about Bob Marley, so Michael became my musical pimp.

Michael's music followed me through my young adulthood, student days, college days, young married days, young fatherhood days--no road trip was ever complete without a Michael Jackson song: "It's just a Thriller" Even now when I have to get on the treadmill every morning, Michael leads me out of my stupor with "Shake Your Body Down to the Ground" or "Beat it."

Those songs, those songs. Those songs I'll never forget and which have become permanent fixtures on my iPod:

"The Way You Make Me Feel",

"Man in the Mirror"

"Dirty Diana


"Billie Jean"

"Rock With You."

and my favorite, "Human Nature"

But what I'll always remember is the first time I saw him on MTV and the opportunities that he created for every single R&B, hip-hop, reggae singer, …

And when he moonwalked!

And, yes, there were the dark moments in his life. He is gone now so they won't follow him into his next life.

And if anyone is still inclined to judge, listen to "Human Nature" one more time.

Rest in Peace, Brother.


Top Ten Michael Jackson Songs

Bob Marley and Michael Jackson in Jamaica (1)

Bob Marley and Michael Jackson in Jamaica (2)

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Stephen A. Bess said...

Beautiful, Geoffrey and beautiful poem. No, we should not judge. Let's leave that to the Father. I have pleasant memories of growing up with Michael Jackson on tv, radio, 8 track, tape cassette, and eventually cd. He was definitely the King of Pop. Peace~


Geoffrey Philp said...

Stephen,as I said over at JDID, Michael's death leaves us to ask these questions of ourselves:

are we erasing the scars of racism in our lifetime?
are we creating opportunities or closing the door on others?
are we following our bliss, honing our gifts to near perfection as he had done?

This is not to dismiss the real harm that he is alleged to have caused, but we should answer these questions before we judge.

Abeni said...

Very well said. It is so easy to go down the road of Michael the weirdo but you have personalised him and outlined what he meant to you.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Abeni,i believe that everyone who touches our life in specific ways has something to teach us and Michael, as an artist, was one of those people.

I didn't say this in the post, but he perfected his skills and in that quest he also became a bit unbalanced because of his need to please and his past acquaintances with emotional bullies--people who lead us to believe that we are never enough until we meet their standards.

I think Michael projected this out on the "audience" and in his quest to please, to be loved, he betrayed the love that he should have been cultivating for himself.

That's also the cautionary tale of his life.

Rethabile said...

"Ke bao, ka li potsotso, chelete e felile!"

That's how as young Basotho kids we sang along with "Keep on, with force don't stop, don't stop till you get enough."

It took me a long time to erase that Sesotho version, which I'd known was not Michael's (at least not consciously). Even today when I hear the song, I break into the sesotho version. That's how far Michael Jackson's reach was.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Rethabile, Annie Paul also wrote a great post about his reach in the Arab world--he was truly a global figure.

Moonshine said...

I respect and agree with you opinions. I've not been to Jamaica myself, but MJ was a huge, huge loss. Regardless of world experience.