“Have you seen my childhood?”
So goes the first line of the Michael Jackson song “Childhood.”
A lot of journalists have recently attached the death of Michael Jackson to a person’s childhood. People interviewed all over the world say they are grieving for Jackson “...and their childhood memories.”
Your memories don’t die.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of saying things like “...another piece of my childhood gone.” Truth be told, that childhood was gone years ago, the only remnants being scrapbooks and other mementos – especially the music. Isn’t the childhood love of music what brings most of us together on a daily basis? If you think back to some of my earlier posts – buried over a thousand deep in this site – it’s just random ramblings of me remembering the first time I listened to Poison’s Open Up and Say...Ah! or watching Aerosmith live at the MTV Video Music Awards.
When I was young I had lots of records (think a giant, obnoxious stack) that I liked to play over and over on my mom’s big console stereo. In 1991, I was in fifth grade and yes, I owned a copy of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous on cassette. (By the way, Dangerous is still my favorite Jackson album). I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom, running the tape back and forth, listening to “Black or White” constantly. In nearly the same action, I would pop on many other tapes and click through MTV like it was going out of style. 1991 was a big year in music – but especially so for Glam and therefore I had a lot of choices. Even though I’m no longer that young girl sitting on the floor listening to my cassettes, I’ve always carried that memory with me. I’m not exactly sure why I have such vivid memories of scanning the booklet for Dangerous and thinking it was exceptionally thick, except maybe it was fate I would one day write about the experience for mass consumption.
I suppose today’s giant outpouring for Jackson is as selfish as it is selfless. Sure, millions of fans entered the lottery to win tickets to the public memorial in California and the lucky ones flew from all over America and points beyond. But that’s only half the story. No one wants to face mortality and if there was anyone able to cheat death, it was supposed to be Michael Jackson. After all, who was more famous or rich? The rest of us can’t compete with that – we’re just average Janes and Joes. The “dying part of a childhood” isn’t so much saying goodbye to a memory as it is the stark fear of being pushed forward in the great mortality chain that is life – no one is immune.
So, today when you turn on the news – and the story of Jackson’s memorial will be on TV, radio and the Internet all day – don’t be fooled by the masses crying for Thriller and their past youth. Recall the past fondly, but don’t be scared to look ahead, ready for the next big band or album to change the world. The best is yet to come. Of that, I am certain.