Michael Jackson has been a significant influence for me - on things I have done, do and how I see the world. It's not just writers who have soundtracks playing for inspiration and creativity. Mine include great songwriters, who when listening (and often dancing) to their work, I get inspired to get up off my arse and do something significant.
I first came across Michael Jackson at dancing, when the older girls were excited because they were going to dance to "Bad" in the end of year concert. I'd never heard of the album or Michael Jackson and became curious about what all the excitement was about.
His music, in the 80s, was very easy to choreograph to so we danced to a lot of his songs at dancing. And at home, his music was easy to choreograph to so, I danced a lot to his songs. Still do. I think he was brilliant. Yeah you might want to tell me about all the weird shit that surrounded his art. I might point out that I relate to that, having somewhat weird shit come up in my own life. He walked the line of genius and insanity. That's what made him so fascinating. That, and he had such a hard life, growing up, in a life that he never owned - he belonged always to other people. That can't have been a life that was all you'd hope it to be.
He wrote songs that get under my skin, demand I move and sing and that make me feel better.
My favourite song is "Man in the Mirror". It's the song I put on when I feel beaten down or sad or angry at the world. I, ah, might have set dance moves to this song. And I dance it - maybe on repeat for 5 or 10 times, till I'm yelling:
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change)
Probably this song had the greatest influence on me and the directions I've taken in my life, listening to it a lot as a kid:
I'm Gonna Make A Change
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right...
As I, Turn Up The Collar On
My Favorite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See Their Needs
Other favourites include Billie Jean, She's Out of My Life, Heal the World, The Way You Make me Feel, Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, Ben, Gone Too Soon and soooooooo much of the Jackson Five backcatalogue (ABC, The Love You Save, I'll Be There, Dancing Machine, Got to Be There). I love love love Motown stuff and I probably have more of the older Jackson stuff, which I thought was better - more raw and a lot more interesting.
I admire Michael Jackson for his talent and for his skill at being at the forefront of music - he pioneered so much of what commercial music is today, he constantly reinvented himself, he was always look for the next thing he could do or become or create and he set his own standards, never content with average. He thought outside the box - sometimes to his own detriment but often for the production of great works that have lasted beyond the weeks that they were in the charts. He took Motown music into mainstream. He invented the video clip. He wrote music that I will always love.
To me, he represents something important - that anyone, no matter how young, no matter what your colour, race or creed, no matter your class or your upbringing - anyone can change the world.
Rest in Peace Michael Jackson.