It Was The Sound Of A Crescendo

As He Came Into The Window
It Was The Sound Of A Crescendo
He Came Into Her Apartment
He Left The Bloodstains On The Carpet
She Ran Underneath The Table
He Could See She Was Unable
So She Ran Into The Bedroom
She Was Struck Down, It Was Her Doom

billie-jean-jacksonYesterday afternoon at approximately 3:00 PM pacific time, the “King of Pop” passed away.  Michael Jackson was a tortured soul and must have lived both a thrilling and a stressful, worried-filled life.  While learning his A-B-C’s as a child, he seemed to take no greater joy than being on stage performing.  He was a smiling, dancing, happy kid.

After becoming “King of the World” you could see a person that both wanted to heal the world (perhaps as Captain EO), yet despite his success, he had to retreat and isolate himself.  He would have to remind himself that he was not alone.

He had odd moments with marriages, odd moments with his own children, and questioned moments with other children.

He was both one of the most celebrated and revered musical artists not just of our time, but in the entire history of the world.  But he was also a little off the wall, and confusing to the world.  The part that confused me the most, was the fact that by the end of his life, you really couldn’t tell if his appearance was black or white, human or alien.  He had multiple surgeries on his face.  He just couldn’t help it.  He could no longer recognize the man in the mirror.

mjgloveNo matter your perspective–whether your view of him is of a musical dancing genius, or whether you see him as a bad, deranged man– the fact remains that he was a global icon.  His popularity went further then just the girl named Billie Jean, but stretched throughout the world.  The girls were his, the men were his, the world was his.  At the height of his popularity, he could do no wrong.  He was invincible.  He could even walk on the moon.

He is gone too soon.

News of his death quickly passed around the eInternet and it even caused sites to go down.

News of Jackson’s death spread quickly online, causing many websites to experience technical difficulties under the unanticipated swell of users. Google announced technical difficulties after a sudden swell in searches for “Michael Jackson” led the company to believe it was under attack from hackers, while social networking site Twitter reported a crash after record numbers of users used the site to spread the news of Jackson’s death.  Wikipedia itself had temporarily experienced technical difficulties and crashed at 3:15 PDT reportedly due to excessive edits and user overload. Many news organizations were generally very cautious about the initial reports of his death.

mjleanAs I heard the news, and quickly reflected on his life and death I wondered if he would be remembered as Elvis or Buddy Holly are remembered.  Author Samuel Roy has argued: “Elvis’ death did occur at a time when it could only help his reputation. Just before his death, Elvis had been forgotten by society.”  You could probably say the same about Michael Jackson.  He had become an anomaly to culture.  Hopefully his death will make people remember the time when they danced, sang, and just couldn’t get enough of his music rather than the disfigured man, sharing wine and beds with boys, trying to free willy.  Will Neverland Ranch become his Graceland?

As I contemplated his legacy, I at first thought that although I viewed him as filthy (in the baseball sense–amazingly good), I didn’t have any sort of connection or tie to his music.  But then as I thought about it more, I realized that I have 2 (actually, just thought of a third) vivid memories of his music.

The first was when I was only six years old.  It was late 1982 and my family was renting a winter cabin for a week or weekend in the mountains.  When I was younger this was kind of a tradition.  We had another family come visit and share our time for a few days.  One of my brothers friends (I think it was Tyler Monroe), brought with him the new Thriller album.  We listened to the album non-stop and even pretended we were making a video for it.  I also remember being scared and having nightmares of the title track.  It was really a freaky song for a newly six year old boy in a dark musty cabin.

mjperformingMy next vivid memory (both of these memories I can still see very clearly in my mind’s eye), took place when I was in junior high school.  It was a Sunday morning, and I was waiting in our Volvo (Volvo for life), for my dad to finish chatting with people after church.  It was parked on Martincoit road, along the street, right outside my former elementary school that housed our church.  I was sitting there listening to the radio, and Casey Casem’s top 40 countdown.  The number one song that day was Man in the Mirror.  It was a spiritual moment for me, as I sang and cried to the song.  It inspired me that day, to want to make myself a better person, to want to help people, and to focus on my own problems, rather than the faults of others.  It’s a trait that I have hung onto and grown my entire life–within each problem, fight, scenario that I might encounter, I look to see where I could have blame so that I can attempt to change that pattern in the future.  I think this is sometimes a detriment to myself, as I too often claim more blame than I should.  But overall I think it is a good concept.  Why blame others and hurt them with anger, when I can find and fix the role I played and build up the esteem of the other person?

michaeljacksongloveThe third vivid memory that I have in my photographic memory (or would it now be called a videographic memory?), is my senior year in college.  It was a week before school started, and I was hanging out preparing for the year with the other R.A’s in my dorm–Erin, Erin, Angeline, Rebecca and Jon.  We were setting up our R.A office (does anyone remember “the Dugout?”), using bleach to clean out the mold in the refrigerator from a long summer.  We were setting up our pet miniature illegal turtles (what did we name them?  M.J was one I think), and getting the entire dorm prepared for the rush of students and the new year.  Our dorm,V.K, was shaped similar to how you might view a Motel 6.  It was two stories, rectangle in shape, that all surrounded a large green courtyard with cement walkways.  While we were busting our humps cleaning, laughing and enjoying new friendships and experiences, we were blasting in the courtyard Jackson’s album, HIStory.  We just couldn’t get enough.  It was a precious moment in my life, and along with laughter, love, and hope, Jackson was providing the soundtrack.

There are probably many other moments of my life that Michael Jackson provided soundtrack to.  But these 3 are the most vivid.  I remember them so crisply and can picture them on a loop in my head.  Whether I am 6, 12, 21 or now practically 33, his music and life have been integrated with mine.

Will you (if I have any readers) share any specific memories, moments, or flashbacks that you may have had with Jackson and or his songs?  How did he make you feel?



President Ronald Reagan and Nancy in 1984 before receiving an award for his contribution to a drunk driving awareness program.


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14 Responses to “It Was The Sound Of A Crescendo”

  1. Lisa says:

    Cool use of song titles in your description of Michael Jackson. Is the top quote from one of his tunes? What do you recall wanting to chage about yourself when you were in Junior High? I bet you were a gem!

  2. Andy says:

    The top quote is from the song that randomly came on my ipod this morning on my way to work: Smooth Criminal, indeed by Michael.
    And in regards to jr high, the song inspired me that day, to want to make myself a better person, to want to help people, and to focus on my own problems, rather than the faults of others.

    If You Wanna Make The World
    A Better Place
    Take A Look At Yourself, And
    Then Make A Change

    It was just an inspiring song to “take a look at yourself” and it helped form a pattern for me of trying to find my blame in any situation so that I could make a change to better the world.

    I’m not sure if I am explaining it clearly…

  3. Lisa says:

    My favorite “Michael Jackson memory” is of my dad trying to do the moon walk. For years he’s tried to do the moon walk on the kitchen floor in his socks. I think whenever he notices a slippery surface he tries. (He also does the funny arm gestures as he attempts the moon walk – wrist flicking). But he hasn’t mastered it and keeps trying. It’s so funny. When he’s not grinning he gets a really concentrated look on his face like it’s important business he’s attending to. It always makes me laugh.

  4. Lisa says:

    Another fun memory (since you asked) is in college I lived in Italy one summer for an Italian laguage class. It was pre-internet days so lyrics weren’t readily available online. And the Italian students used to come to my dorm room to have me write out what the lyrics of American songs were so that they could understand them more clearly. They mostly brought Michael Jackson songs. So I’d play the song, write out a few more sentences, back it up to catch the words again, and transcribe them. Those guys were thrilled with it. It was pretty cute.

  5. Kelly says:

    My favorite memory is his Thriller video. Being a kid of only a few years at that time, the zombies freaking me out a little in the beginning, but the dancing… oh the dancing. “Cool” is such an understatement. My head was swimming of his dance moves… so smooth, so fluid. I wanted to dance like him. As I was saying to my husband last night, if i could learn one choreographed dance, it would be that one.

    All his songs are genius, talent that can never be forgotten. A legend that changed the pop world. What has made me so sad about his death, is not because of no more music, no more legendary dance moves. But that he will never be understood. As media has always portrayed him as “King”, he will always be the child that never was, crying for help inside, and aside from the coveted fame and talent he possessed, Michael Jackson missed out on the very childhood every kid goes through. Playing ball, playing pranks, learning the simple mistakes every kid makes and learns it the hard way… birthday parties, friend sleepovers, and maybe the occasional family vacations to Disneyland or Universal Studios. Think of all the things you got to do as a kid, all those fond childhood memories and what is nostalgic to you. Fame and fortune will never cover the memories that could have been for Michael Jackson, child superstar, Motown wonder, King of Pop.
    Michael will always be remembered in every club, every ipod, itunes, music videos. Michael, may you rest in peace.

  6. Erin says:

    I absolutely remember those days in VK, and I was actually thinking about little MJ this morning! We did have a blast, didn’t we? What great memories.

  7. debbie says:

    I found myself thinking of him as the Jackson 5/ wide nosed,high voice,part of a family….I think that was the BEST time for him cauze he refused to grow up .

  8. joey says:

    i remember “thriller” — i was terrified of that video when i was a kid… i’d hide behind the couch when i heard vincent price’s voice…
    i’m not so scared anymore (i understand it’s not really zombies in the video)…

    my buddies made a funny modification to the video — once we post it on youtube, i’ll link it.. it’s hilarious

    his best song/video of all time has got to be “rock with you” — black michael, by himself, and dancing in front of a green laser and smoke machine. that’s all you need — no tigers, no eddie murphy, no naomi campbell…

  9. Angeline Morales says:

    Andy that is sooo awesome loved your piece….except for the typo with my name…it’s Angeline. Anyways you are an amazing with words and I could picture that day in my head. Thank you for the memory!

  10. Andy says:

    Ooops. Fixed.

  11. Juan says:

    Andy, this article is amazing. You should submit it to the Rolling Stone magazine!!!!

    I remember that the first LP I ever bought was Michael’s Thriller!! I used money I got for my birthday and remember clearly playing it on my Mom’s turntable.

    As I watch TV and look at the many MJ specials, each one of the tunes I hear makes me smile and brings back great memories.

    He was definetly the King, no one has ever made videos like he did, and probably nobody ever will.

  12. Andy says:

    Good call on the videos juan. Although i never was a “fan” of his, he did rule the world.

    Thank you everyone for sharing your memories, this was really fun to hear from everyone.

  13. Corrie says:

    Andy I love what you wrote, you ahould definitely submit it somewhere for more to read-
    Although I have many memories, my most recent occured this yr in my worst class, a bunch of 9th grade adhd boys that didn’t do any work and were flunking their classes. I came up with a little lesson to teach them a bit about integrity and changing some of their bad habits. I decided to use MJ’s Man in the Mirror, I played it on my ipod, making a total fool of myself doing my version of a moonwalk!
    Each of them had a drawing of a mirror where they had to write the lyrics to the chorus then write about what changes they were going to make.
    About a week ago I bought this really cool 18″ sticker that looks like a mirror that I planned to write the lyrics in and keep in my classroom as a reminder of the lesson-

    Like you Andy, I find the words poignant as a reminder to reflect and make changes.

    The funny thing was when I did this the kids weren’t that familiar with who MJ was or how big he was, they’ll never forget him now-

  14. Lisa Liguori says:

    I also liked it in “13 Going On 30” when they did the thriller dance at the fancy magazine party. It made me wish I was in the movie with them having fun and dancing “thriller”.

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