If this town
Is just an apple
Then let me take a bite…
I wanted to write about my favorite Michael song for awhile, and yesterday before the news broke, I decided I would this weekend. Now it takes on a new significance that I was not ready for it to have. It’s impossible to pick a favorite Michael song, especially today.YouTube clips and Facebook posts remind us of countless favorites. But for me, “Human Nature” seems like a good place to start.
“Human Nature” is my reflect and come back to center song. It describes my relationship with New York City, a world that’s literally outside my window—the Empire State is my nightlight. The city seems far away with the river separating us, and it appears silent. I stare out a lot and wonder how I can land on that side, and make an impact.
“Human Nature” is so idealistic and pure, the perfect launching pad for dreamers. We’re so accustomed to cynicism that someone like Michael or Stevie, who embraces idealism, is quite rare. The hypnotic melody meshed with the innocence of Michael’s falsetto almost transports you to the moment you heard it the first time. It was a bold step away from his youth and the fame of his brothers, with an unsteady tone as if the training wheels were coming off to reveal his true greatness.
The magic produced between Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones was a special moment in the studio that very few teams have ever created. Off the Wall and Thriller are easily two of the greatest albums of pop music. Anyone born in the 80s has been influenced by Michael Jackson. He changed the face of music videos as we ever knew them. Who else had a video premiere on FOX that everyone stopped to watch, before YouTube, and DVR?
Every dancer, singer, and music journalist will cite Michael Jackson as an influence. He is the model for breakers and poppers everywhere, and has influenced every performer who has come after him. His humanitarian efforts have helped millions, and inspired the celebrity movement in Africa and all over the world.
As a writer, I hate to use the words “classic” and “of all time.” They seem so grand and sweeping, and no album or song ever seems quite deserving. For a song can be a classic to one, while another artist can be the greatest of all time to someone else. But in the case of Thriller and Michael Jackson, they are the only words that can fully encompass a world class legend. It’s been a true privilege to witness his light in my lifetime.
And today I make this proclamation without a doubt:
Music has lost the Greatest Artist Who Ever Lived.