Friday, June 26, 2009

I Should Have Done This a Long Time Ago

When the world lost two legends yesterday I panicked. Not only from the sadness of the loss but from the fear that I hadn't taught my children about the people from my childhood who have shaped the entertainment world today. I thought I had time to inject little bits of Michael Jackson musical history into Bean's world of Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers. But, as life reminds us from time to time that it is fleeting, last night I was jolted with the fear that she might grow up not knowing who this musical genius was.

Logue was out of town and is old enough to know who MJ is and appreciate his contributions and influence on music and dance today. But Bean, being 5 years younger, somehow missed that Soul Train ride through music history.
I felt a pressing need to give Bean a history lesson of all things Michael Jackson. Of course I first had to give props to Farrah: "Farrah Faucet was an original Charlie's Angel, they were spies and mommy thought that was so cool 'cause it was when "Girl Power" was really popular you know like after Title Nine?" The kid actually knows about Title Nine, thank you American Girl (I'm sorry I once thought your products were a worthless, stereotype inducing waste of time...I was wrong). I kept it short not because I think less of Farrah, I just knew I had that short 9 yr. old window of time (like 10 minutes) before her eyes would glaze over and Selena Gomez on TV would take precedence. I mean no disrespect to Farrah, but come on, MJ was the man I was going to marry...or so I thought when I was 10. Priorities.

I started with the Jackson Five singing "ABC" then "I'll Be There" as I used to sing that to Bean when she was still little and couldn't say, "Mama, can you please stop singing now?" She watched with bated breath. I dug in. "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" and "Billie Jean" the live version where the Moonwalk was debuted.
"He invented that Mom."
"I know baby, I'm so proud that you know that."
"I invented the "Sun Walk" which is forward and the "Star Walk" which is sideways!" She said.
Right on Sister!

"Now Bean, you have to understand "Beat It" came out when A) Music videos were brand new and B) MJ was the first to use Dance as an artistic expression of his music in his videos and that was BRILLIANT."
"Wait, how come there isn't a "Menu" on VHS tapes?" she asked.
"Tomorrow I'll teach you about 8-tracks, vinyl records, Beta and VHS tapes."

J came in to share in the tribute and if Daddy was interested, well then so was she. So, I steered her focus back with "Thriller" the ultimate lesson in innovation, artistry, expression of music through dance and well, just pure genius. I tried to invoke the emotion of anticipation I felt waiting for the album "Thriller" to come out. I was in junior high school, in the very same gymnasium where my son's 8th grade class performed their rendition of "Thriller" this past May. I was practicing my MJ spins and Moonwalk with my friends talking non-stop about who's house we could watch MTV for the premier of the video because most of us didn't have cable.

"Why didn't you just DVR it?" asked Bean.
"Tomorrow, babe, tomorrow."

Since "Thriller" was familiar to her, I had her hooked and from there we followed the journey of MJ's career until she fell asleep.

I continued to reminisce about the countless hours I practiced the Moonwalk, how when "Don't Stop Til you Get Enough" plays, I get chills every time, how I dreamed of someday dancing in one of MJ's videos and because of that teenage obsession my poor best friend had a dream/nightmare when we were in high school that I kept coming after her, stomping my feet with that wild look in my eye shouting "Dah!"

I hope I imparted in Bean the influence MJ had on my dance career and what an iconic legend he will always be. As a lover of music and a former professional dancer this piece of history was so important to me to pass on to my kids.

At some point when the ban on embedding MJ's video's lifts, I will post "Black or White" here for my kids to watch in the years to come as this video helped break barriers between races through dance. For now, here's the link:

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