I heard him first on a Sony walkman. No, not today’s sleek, MP3 playing gizmo, I mean the ol’ cassette playing black brick. I was in the high school. And my friend who owned the “from-Dubai” walkman also brought along the “from-phoren” tape of Michael Jackson. I remember, during interval, the classroom almost erupting into a fight for the headphone. After all, Michael’s music had a trance like quality. It was different from the Beatles and Abba and Boney M. Was it his virginal feminine voice, or was it the dance-inducing music? I would never know. Nor would any of my contemporaries.
I grew up. To Pre-degree. MJ had by then inspired many wannabe moonwalkers, break dancers. Me included. Tall, lanky guys went one step further, sported curly hair and tried hard to speak in cackling, effeminate voice. Some of them were nicknamed Cycle Mackson. Our ‘bad’ footsteps still had verve even while walking back to the bus stop. No telling how many men of my age would have sprained their legs trying to practice moon-walking.
Few years later, when I started earning, I brought home a Philips Powerhouse – the first purchase in my life with my own money. Along with it was my dream-come-true possession - the cassette called Dangerous. If the album cover was an enigmatic collage of art, the music begged to be different. The lyrics never mattered as long as the thumping music rocked the neighbourhood. I remember my widowed mom, who was touching her 50s, after pleading with me to turn down the volume, sitting on the sofa and unknowingly tapping her feet to the rhythm of Black or White.
That is MJ for me. The musician who forced a dance even out of the most wooden legs.
Agreed, I would have smirked with the rest of the world when he went under the scalpel again and again and again. But then, I know MJ will be having the last laugh now; for bringing about an unalterable plastic surgery on the ethos of a whole generation I am proud to be part of.