Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mourning Two Icons of My Youth

I'm 42 so it's impossible for me to not be a little bit saddened by the passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

Forget all of the jokes and simply look at Michael's career from 1969 until 1987, when Bad was released.

It seemed as if everyone owned Thriller in 1983 (the album was released in late 1982, though). And while I like parts of that album a great deal, I have to admit that 1980's Off The Wall is probably my favorite MJ album. "Rock with You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" still sound ahead of their time -- like the best New Order tracks. Seriously.

I was lucky enough to see The Jackson 5 live at the Shady Grove Theater in Maryland when I was a kid. I'm guessing that I was about 7 at the time (1974) as my memories of the event are hazy -- I do vaguely remember a kind of mid-concert comedy segment where Janet Jackson came out and did a little jokey routine with Michael. This was only a few years before Janet would appear on TV's "Good Times" in a very memorable child abuse plot line.

And I've been told by my parents that I got a wicked nosebleed during the concert (I had horrible allergies and assorted health problems when I was a kid)!

And before he popularized the Moonwalk dance move, Michael did this weird robotic thing in the instrumental breakdown in the amazing "Dancing Machine". I can remember playing that track on the album quite a bit and forcing my parents and grandparents to watch me try to do the robot dance.

Quite a sight I can assure you!

Despite me growing out of Michael Jackson, every so often something would pop up that would catch my ear: "This Place Hotel"("Heartbreak Hotel") and "Lovely One" from 1980's Triumph album from The Jacksons and then even something as throwaway as "Smooth Criminal" from Bad.

When I force myself to forget MJ's personal troubles and mistakes -- and his freakish appearance -- and just listen to any of these tracks, I am immediately a happy person.

As for Farrah, I was a bit too young to be smitten when her first poster came out and she was on "Charlie's Angels". I watched the show but just didn't get it.

By 1978, I was a bit obsessed with Suzanne Sommers since "Three's Company" was such a big hit and by 1979 when I was 12 I started to appreciate Farrah's charms.

I may be alone in saying this but I have more fond memories of this poster from 1978 or 1979 (?) than I do of her more famous one.