Michael Joe Jackson - my very first major celebrity crush. I was in the seventh standard when I first started listening to MJ songs with more than just a passing interest. Soon, I was totally hooked and wanted to own all of his cassettes (no, CDs weren't popular then). Shilpa was my primary partner in this madness. Both of us used to gift each other MJ cassettes for birthdays and other occassions - so that our combined collection could grow. I think together we owned tapes of almost all the MJ collections available in Chennai at that time.
We transcribed the lyrics for most of his songs and exchanged notes about it. We knew the lyrics by heart for almost all the songs in his Thriller, Bad and Dangerous albums.We argued over whether it was "pleasures" or "plow-shares" in Heal the world. We could compose entire essays with just the titles of his various songs. We watched his movie Moonwalk (did anyone else even know about the existence of this movie?) plenty of times. Yeah, it was total, complete insanity - we were SO smitten!
When my dad got transferred to a different place when I was in the ninth standard, S's parting gift to me was a huge poster of MJ. I faithfully stuck it to the wall of my room in the new place. That was the year when Michael Jackson was supposed to come to India. The newspapers had contests - I think BPL was the sponsor - if you won one of those, you could get free tickets to MJ's concerts. My eyes sparkled at the prospect. I forced my mom to let me send out four different entries just so I could increase the probability of winning (my mom's grumbles about wasted stamp money fell on deaf ears). Of course, that was the tour which finally got cancelled at the last moment. So, other than the Indian postal service, nobody else benefitted much.
I don't know when exactly the crush ended. I think it just came on gradually. One fine day I just took the poster off the wall. And with that stopped the obsessive tracking of anything related to MJ. Oh, I still liked listening to MJ songs, but that was about it.
When I was preparing to travel to the US for the first time, Bad and Thriller found some of the precious space in my suitcase. Once I landed here, I managed to locate the songs and get them on CD. I still listen to it from time to time (and now have it on my ipod too) - and I still like them a lot. Sadly enough, MJ's life has turned into a topic for ridicule now for quite some years now. But I still think it does not take away what he has contributed to the music world.
All these memories came flooding back tonight. It being a quiet Friday night, I was reading a book and watching bits of Minnale (for the nth time - I find some of the Vivek comedy in that movie too funny). Then suddenly it struck me that I could search for long unwatched Tamil videos on youtube. I watched a couple of favorite Tamil videos when a typo brought me to a video of MJ performing live for the song Billie Jean. As I watched the video, I remembered how crazy I used to be about the famous "moonwalking" step and realized how superbly MJ does it (obviously, he has to - its his invention I guess!). Then, obviously, I HAD to search for other MJ videos too. So Liberian Girl (which I have never seen before), Black or White and Remember the Time followed. Man, those videos are simply awesome. So much thought (and money I guess) has obviously gone into it and every frame of each video shows that!
By now I was completely hooked and had to find more videos. And I continued to watch. It was then that I discovered the video for the 1988 live performance of The Way You Make Me Feel at the Grammys. OMG! I never thought I would see that video again! That was the very first time I saw Michael Jackson in action - I remember being very impressed by the super dancer. At home, we used to tape the Grammy awards regularly. So we used to have a video cassette which contained the Grammy awards ceremony from different years. This particular performance (the bit where MJ and a group of guys dance in complete sync) used to be a favorite with all of us kids and that portion of the tape became quite worn out due to the constant requests for encore! I don't know where the tape is now or if it is even in existence...
Seeing the Grammy performance reminded me of another very favorite video - Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry Be Happy. The song is very uplifting and the video is funny! We used to watch this video over and over again too on that cassette. There is this one particular step where all the three guys featured in the video hop around on one leg in a single file. In eight standard, my friends and I used to try to do those steps during free periods in the classroom. It used to be major fun :-D - ummm... my wonderful eight standard life *happy reminiscenses*. And guess what, I found that video on youtube too :-). The link to it is right here if you want to see it :-):
Ah well, to all those generous souls who put up this stuff on youtube: May you live long and happy lives (btw, is uploading videos legal? Regardless, you still have my good will ;-))! I had such a lovely trip down memory lane :-)!
BTW, trivia for the day: This is my 100th post...yaaaay :-D! Just so this post doesn't feel left out, I am putting up an image marker for this one too!