Besides The Beatles, one of my earliest childhood musical memories is Michael Jackson. I listened to Beat It and We Are the World on the jukebox while eating pizza in the wooden booths at Round Table. I remember learning to breakdance (or, at least what I thought was breakdancing) in the second grade in a small school in a small town in the middle of California. I thought he was the definition of cool.
As an adult that childhood wonder and magic never fully faded and has been, in fact, renewed through my young daughter Elliot’s recent obsession with him. Below is an entry from several months back with a video Elliot and I made together as a tribute to our King of Pop.
(turn your volume up)
It all started so innocently. A little girl heard a little boy singing a novelty Christmas song. “Who’s singing?”
The answer to that question has resulted in three months of obsession with the King of Pop. The most common words to come out of Elliot’s mouth used to be “Please tell me a story!” That record has been broken by the sheer volume of “I wanna listen to Michael Jackson”s. In fact, she requests a Michael Jackson cameo in every story we tell. I made the mistake of speaking in the character of Michael Jackson during one of these stories. Now it’s expected.
We don’t give in to every MJ request, but when you yourself remember the magic of being little and hearing Michael singing We Are The World and, to this day, feel a thrill at the opening bass stomps of Beat It, it’s hard to say no. It has also provided a motivating reward for good behavior. Elliot and Sarah dance to Beat It every night before bed, provided Elliot helps clean up first (the choreography of this dance they made up can be seen in parts of the movie below.)
Yes, Michael has joined the ranks of Peter Pan and Henry & Grisha as her best imaginary friends. She’s often overheard playing with him and has several toys named after him.
Thankfully, she knows nothing of post Thriller Michael Jackson . . .
This all leads up to this last saturday, when Elliot asked if we could make a movie about Michael Jackson. So, I present to you her opus: Michael Jackson!
(I’m scared of windowsills and the rain, too–it’s an understandable fear.)