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Sprawled out on the living room carpet, staring at some guy holding a tiger... Mom drops a black disk onto a spinning plate, the sound of crackling followed by a sudden stream of audible energy. Enter Thriller. Enter the first memories of music. Enter my first love. I couldn't have been more than a year or two old. There's a picture somewhere sealed away in a photo album of this very moment, not that I need it to remember. You only have so many firsts. I loved most of it, but didn't like "Billie Jean." It sounded adult, and I was anything but.
Fast forward to 1988. A rainy night in Dallas. Nan and Pop come over to babysit my baby sister, and the rest of the family and I head to some place called Reunion Arena. I remember walking into the venue with throngs of people, looking at the merchandise of t-shirts (one of which adorns my closet now), standing next to a cardboard cutout of the guy who held that tiger with my big brother. There's a picture somewhere sealed away in a photo album of this very moment, not that I need it to remember. Loud music, people holding lighters (why?), scary costumes and lots of dancing. This was 's "Bad Tour" - my first concert and the last time he would perform in Texas.
Fast forward to 2009. Michael Jackson is dead. Not overly sad. I've grown to resent much of that commercial fanfare and possible negative subliminal influence the music industry has over the masses. But this isn't about that. Not about the death of a musician with talents that at times seemed other worldly, not about child molestation charges, bizarre behavior, ever changing physical appearance or tabloid fodder. This is about my childhood. This is about watching "Moonwalker" ad nauseam at Nan's house, only to rediscover it in high school. About taping songs off the radio onto 2 cassettes and playing them back to create "that cool airplane sound" (chorus effect). About lying in bed and listening to his music, envisioning what the videos would look like. About practicing his moves over and over again, trying to dance the white out of me (semi-successful). About that excitement that his performances exuded. Unparalleled. That excitement that only children get. There are unending records of these moments, not that I need them to remember.
Thanks for the music, Michael.