When we all heard the news on Thursday, I shared "Forever Came Today: Ten Songs By Which To Remember Michael Jackson." At the time, I focused on many of the more poignant songs that Jackson sang in his lifetime that seemed to somehow speak to that initial moment of loss.
But now that a few days have passed, and the media is starting to focus on other elements of this story, I wanted to share my list of ten songs that immediately remind me of all the joy, the soul and the life that Michael Jackson brought to music at his best. After all, the Jackson family themselves have just asked fans not to "despair," so perhaps it's now okay for people to dance in Michael's memory.
By coincidence, my eleven-year-old son was attending tennis camp this week right next to the hospital where Michael Jackson was declared dead. Like many his age, my son knew who Michael Jackson was, but perhaps mostly as some sort of pop cultural punch line. So on the way to camp the next morning, I played my kid some of my favorite Jackson songs, and he immediately said, "Wow, Dad, that's Michael Jackson!"
Here are ten songs, all of which can still make his Dad think, wow, that's Michael Jackson!
"ABC" -- The Jackson 5
If only everything educational were so funky.
"DOCTOR MY EYES" -- The Jackson 5
Yes, Virginia, Michael Jackson and his brothers really could get people dancing to a Jackson Browne song.
"DANCING MACHINE" -- The Jackson 5
A song so undeniable, the Brothers even got the crowd at my Bar Mitzvah moving.
"BLAME IT ON THE BOOGIE" -- The Jacksons
There's going to be a lot of talk about who's to blame here. None of that talk will make you feel as good as this song.
"SHAKE YOUR BODY (DOWN TO THE GROUND)" -- The Jacksons
Sonically this song helped set the stage for Off The Wall, which in turn helped set the stage for everything that followed.
"ROCK WITH YOU" -- Michael Jackson
In the great Quincy Jones, Michael found a masterful collaborator with the musical knowledge to help him do anything he wanted to try. Here Michael helped forever capture in three minutes and twenty-three seconds what love and lust feels and sounds like.
"DON'T STOP 'TILL YOU GET ENOUGH" -- Michael Jackson
Disco was not a dirty word. Or at least it was a dirty word in the best sense.
"WANNA BE STARTIN' SOMETHING" -- Michael Jackson
The perfect way to begin a Thriller -- with a song about the desire to get something big going, and now.
"BLACK OR WHITE" -- Michael Jackson
Whatever else he did, Michael Jackson carried on that great Motown tradition of black and white people listening to the same great songs, even after he left the label. I still love that message -- and that guitar riff too.
"YOU ROCK MY WORLD" -- Michael Jackson
Now that Michael has become omnipresent, I keep hearing this song from his last album Invincible, which was by his standards a commercial disappointment, and liking it more and more. As it turned out, Michael Jackson was far from invincible, but he sure was good.
What Jackson songs continue to rock your world?
Follow David Wild on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Wildaboutmusic