When I started writing this I’d been listening to Michael Jackson’s greatest hits for about two hours now – the greatest hits as determined by me and their meaning in my life.
I began with Off the Wall, the first album that was of my choosing and not the jazz of my father or the blues of my mother. I played Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough three times. Once for each time I restarted a party with a song that 30 years later still has that ability.
I played Can’t Help It because it was the first song that was ever an “Our Song.”
Thriller was played almost in its entirety for obvious reasons (if it ain’t obvious to you please stop reading now.) It was the soundtrack of seventh grade for me. I played it incessantly on my boom box. P-Y-T was the standard dedication on the radio to any object of affection. What person of that age didn’t know the steps to all of the videos? I still know all of the lyrics and could karaoke them without looking at the screen.
Bad was the first album I didn’t love; but there were still some tracks that made the greatest hits cut. I had to play Dirty Diana because it was the song that we sang to every woman with that name for too much of high school.
For Remember the Time I played the extended remix because a) it was a smoking hot track and b) I threw a “premier party” for the video. It was a signature moment in my collegiate experience as we all gathered round a television at the appointed hour.
I concluded my nearly three hour tour through my MJ files with Butterflies, the last song of his that I considered relevant. It was also always the fourth song that I played last on the jukebox at my favorite bar in 2001.
Thank you for all of the memories and the music, Mr. Jackson. I do hope that you have peace now that you’ve left this earth.