Easing on down the road...

It was the spring of 1983. A lazy Sunday afternoon. As a freshman in my second semester of college, I should have been studying. That Introduction to Meteorology class was kicking my fanny. At that point in my college career, I was still a Broadcast Journalism major and had decided, with all the logical wisdom an 18-year-old chick could muster, that it might be helpful to take a class in meteorology in case I found a job as a weather girl. Hadn’t gotten as far as figuring out an on-air name (like Stormy Skies) but I figured it was better to be prepared.

You can stop rolling your eyes now. Yeah. I know.

(BTW – I ended up getting a ‘D’ in that class.)


It was a Sunday afternoon. I was nursing a wee little hangover after spending the evening dancing the night away at some fraternity shindig or another. Sitting around with some gal pals, we were lounging around my dorm room. I had a song stuck in my head that just wouldn’t leave.

They told him don’t you ever come around here
Don’t wanna see your face – you better disappear…

It was a new Michael Jackson tune. Heard it spun at the party the night before. And instantly fell in love.

And I just had to have it. In my possession. NOW.

Didn’t matter that I really wasn’t sure of the name of the song. I had a singular focus. Miss Instant Gratification.

With no car myself (that’s another story for another day) I convinced my GP with the vehicle to join me on my mission of music. Off we went. To the record store at the mall. To the indy record store near campus. To the indy record store way off campus. To Albertsons, which in those days sold music, believe it or not.

No luck.

You better run, you better do what you can
Don’t wanna see no blood – don’t be
a macho man...

Ended up buying a 45 of “Billie Jean” out of desperation. Just in case that was the song. It wasn’t. But I had to have something to show for the wild goose chase we went on that afternoon.

Even after one hearing – one listen – one exposure -- I knew that I had heard something amazing. And infectious. And utterly memorable.

Not that I was any great prognosticator of pop culture at that age – but I knew what I liked. That song. Was It.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Say what you will about the man – and goodness knows, a hell of a lot has been said about him over the years – he was a genius in the purest sense of the word. A master showman with boundless gifts. With a tragic side that also knew no bounds.

And as I watch the news and read the ‘net chatter about MJ’s sudden death, I’m flashing back to the halcyon days of my young adulthood for which he provided the soundtrack. I’m choosing to remember his musical contributions over his slightly sordid and unusual personal life.

Some bittersweet memories tonight – it’s the end of an era.

But with one hell of a danceable beat.

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin’ how funky strong is your fight
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right


Ruprecht said...

"Some bittersweet memories tonight – it’s the end of an era. But with one hell of a danceable beat.

Yup. Yup, it is .....

Bye, Michael. Fond memories all around right here .....

Radioactive Jam said...

Second star to the right, straight on 'til morning. Fare well, Mr. Jackson.

Wildhair said...

My first musical memory is that of Michael Jackson calling out "Look over your shoulder, honey!" The rest, as they say, is HIStory

TopSurf said...

He was a musical genius.period. I loved his Off the Wall album and his Thriller album, I can still see myself cruisin' in my VW down the highway with him blaring on the stereo.

May he rest in peace.

Excellent post!