When Fans Reflect: Michael Jackson = Uncontained Joy

Source: The Examiner – By Adrianne Murchison 


In death, he still has the power to overwhelm us.

That was evident on Sunday night when Alica Keys was visibly moved at how Michael’s spirit filled the room during the BET awards show.

A friend wrote to me saying that the pop star’s death suddenly hit him, over the weekend, while listening to “Got to Be There” on a New York City bus. Tears started to flow, uncontrollably, he said.

He switched his i-Pod to “Can you Feel It,” to try to lighten his mood.
Yes, there’s something about Michael that crosses generations.
Here are stories of Michael’s impact during his lifetime.

A momentary glimpse of Michael enjoying childhood

Jaaz Jones remembers a play-date gone wrong with Michael and Marlon back in 1969.  A family friend who worked for Motown invited Jaaz, then age 9, and a few friends to the park so the Jackson boys would have someone to play with, she says.

“There were just a handful of us.  Michael and Marlon were on the rope climb. They were racing; doing boy stuff and seeing who could get to the top of the rope first.  And as they were climbing up the rope other kids became aware that they were in the park.  The next thing we know, we see all these kids running.  They just ran up on the rope saying, ‘There’s Michael. There’s Michael.’

Everybody was going for Michael.  He’s at the top of the rope, and Marlon slid down. And I just remember looking at [Michael] and I could just see this fright on his face. 

Of course security came running in. It just became chaotic and that just killed the picnic.  Security rushed them off. 

That moment always [stayed] with me.  I saw this little boy whose childhood was stripped from him.”

Coming of age with Michael

Most of my own memories of Michael take place during childhood and summertime in the 1970s.

That was when my best friend, Tonya Guzman, and I took turns spending the night at each other’s home. We’d battle to claim Michael as our boyfriend as we made up stories of what a life with him would look like.  Tonya inevitably got Michael.  And I claimed Marlon until another family singing group came along— the Sylvers—and then I claimed young Foster Sylvers as my consolation prize.

Tonya’s memories are numerous. A favorite came when the 1984 Victory Tour came to Buffalo. NY. A guy who was close to the Jackson camp invited her to sit in the VIP section at the concert.  The crowd noticed the section and figured they were all family members and began to applaud and scream with excitement.  The Jackson camp and Tonya, who was swept up in the energy, waved to the crowed. She realized that because of her long hair and sunglasses, they thought she was LaToya Jackson.

“Oh my [Gosh], so many memories:  Watching the Saturday morning “Jackson 5ive” cartoon show; debating with friends over who was better, Michael or Donny Osmond; singing to his records [as a child] in my bedroom as if I was performing a duet with him.

My no. 1 memory is when my parents and I were in a California airport and saw Michael and his brothers.  My parents knew how in love I was with Michael and they videotaped them.  My mother kept telling me to go over and say hi.  I froze like an ice cube.”

“Thriller” is a Thrilla

At first Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video was a mix of fun and fear for Amira Jones, but overall Michael Jackson’s music represents happiness says the 27-year-old.

She was barely a year old when “Thriller” premiered.

“I remember watching the video under a blanket at [my aunt’s] house.  I was so scared and at the same time I remember doing all the dances from the video with [my cousins].

My cousin used to wear his superman underwear over a pair of black pants and sport this replica of the red jacket Michael wore in the “Thriller” video.

Michael’s music is, by far, the only music out there that always puts a smile on my face.”

Michael’s healing powers

Michelle Matthews says that Michael’s “Bad” album helped her though difficult times in the late 1980s.

“The album came out when I was going through a painful divorce.  My friend Kenneth somehow got an early copy [just as a group of friends and I] were about to have a party. 

It was also when “The Color Purple” came out on VHS  tape.  I remember the fun we had.  The “Bad” album playing [on the stereo],  and “The Color Purple” playing on the TV.  Great friends and good times at a low point in my life. 

Kenneth is gone, [he committed suicide early the next year]. When we hear a song from that album – particularly, his favorite, “Man in the Mirror” –We always think of him and the good times we shared that summer when we all needed our friends.  

The album is definitely the soundtrack during a time in my life that I will always remember, and with friends who I will never forget.“

Endless love for Michael

The night before the news broke about Michael, Maureen Shockley, 39, found herself defending the “King of Pop” while on a first date.

She says the conversation turned to Michael as they discussed comedian Katt Williams’ criticism of him during his stand-up act.

“He kind of agreed with Katt Williams but I told him to just give up because no good could come from him arguing with me about Michael Jackson,” she says.

Since the age of 6, Maureen has always felt unexplained love and emotion for Michael.  She remembers crying and shaking uncontrollably when she watched him on the Jacksons’ weekly summer variety show, on CBS, in 1976.

“It was the excitement of it all. I remember feeling like something strange was happening to me, and I just hid behind the couch because didn’t want my parents to see me doing that. 

The next time it came on I tried to steady myself, but the same thing happened.  I just cried and cried.

When I went to the Victory Tour with my Dad at 14, I had forgotten all about [the shaking and tears] when I was 6. We were at the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. We did not have a good seat, but it was electrifying. This time I wasn’t shaking but I cried and screamed the whole time. 

You see people at Michael Jackson’s concerts and they are just screaming and crying.  Maybe it’s like what [a friend suggested to me], Michael in [human] form, and his expression, could not be contained. 

It makes sense because what else could make people cry? Maybe [the screaming, crying and emotions] is the joy that they felt in his performance, because it’s true freedom that he was feeling.

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