My favorite Michael Jackson memories

1. Discovering Thriller in 1984 when I was baby sitting an apparently much hipper 6 year-old.

2. 1994 in Sri Lanka: Riding into a small village on a rental bus to pick up Sabrina Reisinger—a Warren Wilson classmate—from her home stay. She was decked out in a homemade Sri Lankan dress and was dancing, with all the village kids (who she’d accessorized with glitter) to “Pretty Young Thing” on a boom box.

3. Asheville’s Caroline Pond sitting in with a funk band at a Hannah Flanagan’s gig during a rendition of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” Know that opening disco-y scale sweep? Caroline did that on her fiddle.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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28 thoughts on “My favorite Michael Jackson memories

  1. Chad Nesbitt

    Dancing with my mom in our kitchen to “Don’t stop till you get enough”.

    Mom new the guy’s that owned the Poo Poo Parlor (beside where Sams Club is now).
    She would get me in during Happy Hour and we would dance to Jackson’s songs that we practiced in the kitchen.

    Mom had a scotch and soda with her realestate friends and I drank my shirly temples and
    roy rogers.
    Nothin but coolness back then!

  2. Jason Mencer

    Not being allowed to listen to “radio rock n roll” and sneaking off with my neighbors to listen to “Beat It” over and over till the cassette wore out.

  3. Rebecca Sulock

    Music videos. I watched so many music videos. So I got my introduction to zombies from “Thriller” (which was profoundly frightening to me at the time), an intro to images of poverty and war from “Man in the Mirror” (made me cry) and an intro to supreme dance moves from “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.”

  4. Clocky

    Listening to “Beat It” on the radio, with that Eddie Van Halen guitar part. The video was great too.

    A few of the Jackson 5 songs are still pure gold.

    I was at the Bouncing Ball benefit last year (or earlier this year?) and everybody was dancing to all sorts of stuff, mostly 80s and 90s. Our DJ worked in “I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five (which came out in 1969, y’all), and some of the girls (actually, all adults) screamed “Michael Jackson!!!”

    Anything post-Thriller is forgettable, so you can say his last big album (in terms of anything but sales) was in 1984– that’s twenty five years ago)

  5. I briefly worked at a really terrible and legally shady factory where I was the only white guy in a sea of undocumented workers, mostly from El Salvador and Honduras. While there, I met a guy who decided I would become his personal English tutor while we shoved various cheap plastic parts into boxes for eight hours a day.

    At some point, through my awful Spanish and his worse English, we started talking about music. The only American music he knew was Michael Jackson. When he discovered that I knew the man’s work, he instantly launched into a impassioned solo a cappella version of “Man In The Mirror.” The entire time, he was trying to get me to sing along, as if this was just what people were supposed to do in crummy factory jobs for 50 cents above minimum wage.

  6. Bjorn

    The Magic of Michael Jackson

    I was stunned to learn of MJ’s passing today. It’s still difficult to wrap my head around the reality of the ending of an era. I was looking forward to his new tour & planned shows in London that were scheduled for this year.

    Growing up MJ was always on TV, Wonderama, American Bandstand, Soul Train, ABC specials, & even Saturday morning Jackson 5 cartoons! He was certainly a cultural icon by the time I was 13, when “Off the Wall” was released. Well the rest as they say, is HIStory & what an exciting & brilliant legacy MJ has left us with.

    MJ & his family regardless of whether if you liked them, or their music they are American Legends. MJ was magical, enchanting & astonishing. His light, love & music forever transformed the world.

    “No One Can Hurt You Now
    Because You Know What’s True”
    -”Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”

    -Bjorn

  7. this or that

    Sure. Michael Jackson had some issues. Let’s dig em up. Bet that’ll make you feel good.
    He was also one of the greatest singers of our era.
    Thriller scared the crap out of me.
    He could dance. People loved him. It was tragic and beautiful all at the same time.
    I Remember being 10 when We Are The World came out and getting down with saving Africa.
    Or Superbowl 27. One of the greatest halftime shows. EVER. wow. Who doesn’t get funky when ‘Billie Jean’ comes on? For real.
    So try not to hate.

  8. Jack S.

    ‘you truly embody the term “Shower”, timpeck. “

    Is that so, anonymous.’

    Rite Tim he aint got the guts to snipe folks from his real name.

  9. Michael Jackson Death Photos

    Michael Jackson you leave us too soon , we still desire to hear your voice & your songs. Your song ” Heal The World ” hope can really heal & save this world. We really miss you… Rest In Peace Mike , Good bye….

    http://MichaelJacksonDeathPhotos.com

  10. THRILLER 0121

    due to the fact that michael jackson is 99.9% plastic, the toy factory has decided to melt him down and make legos out of him so little kids can have a chance? to play with him for a change.

  11. antipasta

    That time he was being chased in his white Ford Bronco.. I laughed for hours.

  12. Mr Whipple

    My favorite Michael Jackson moments? When he was on trial twice for sexually molesting little boys. The first trial ended when Jackson paid off the parents with millions of dollars. In the second trial Jackson showed up in pajamas acting like he was so frail. As in “poor me”. Well he had a good lawyer and got off the second time. But where there is a lot of smoke, there is usually fire.

  13. Jason

    To the bashers. According to Wikipedia: Jackson has supported more charities than any other pop singer – 39 charitable organizations either with monetary donations through sponsorships of their projects or the participation in their activities. The charities involved include AIDS Project L.A., American Cancer Society, BMI Foundation, Inc., Childhelp USA, United Negro College Fund, YMCA – 28th Street/Crenshaw, The Sickle Cell Research Fund and Volunteers of America.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Records_and_achievements_of_Michael_Jackson

    What have you done for the world?

    I remember seeing him live in ’84 in Knoxville. It was one of my first concerts. I danced in the asile to “You want to be startin’ Something.”

  14. Dread P. Roberts

    Making fun of, or deliberately insulting, the deceased is downright rude and despicable. Regardless of how one feels about another individual when they are alive, it is completely inappropriate to be so disrespectful when they have passed away. I hope that people are not so cruel when you jerk(s) die.

  15. Mr Whipple

    “Making fun of, or deliberately insulting, the deceased is downright rude and despicable. Regardless of how one feels about another individual when they are alive, it is completely inappropriate to be so disrespectful when they have passed away. I hope that people are not so cruel when you jerk(s) die.”

    OK. So you bowed your head in prayer when you heard the child molester Jeffrey Dahmer was killed in prison? Sorry, I feel no remorse for the death of a serial child molester. I do feel for his family, and especially for the families of the young boys he molested.

  16. Pecked

    “Another drug-addicted child molester bites the dust. ”

    Leaving more children for you, Tim?

  17. Dread P. Roberts

    OK. So you bowed your head in prayer when you heard the child molester Jeffrey Dahmer was killed in prison?

    I suppose it’s only to be expected that one would most likely succumb to extremes when using examples as a basis for an argument.

    Sorry, I feel no remorse for the death of a serial child molester.

    I never specified whether I do or don’t feel remorse for Michael, nor did I mention anything about one needing to feel remorse. I don’t see the word ‘remorse’ as being synonymous with ‘respect’. All I’m saying is that one should show a little human decency. Personally, I’ve always been somewhat baffled by the psychological effect of a celebrity death on the masses. Why are so many people always so heartbroken over the loss of someone that they really knew nothing of? Aside from the media (which is a ‘business’ that shows whatever they want to show, in order to get attention) he is a stranger.

    In case I’m missing something, there is no evidence that Michael Jackson was ever a child molester. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. There’s no denying that he was a weird, eccentric individual. It’s probably fair to say that he was desperately trying to grasp a lost childhood that he never had. Who’s to say that the cases brought against him were not made by greedy parents out to get his fortune. Look, I’m not making an argument for one or the other, but the only thing that any of us really know about the guy is what has been presented forth in the media over the years.

    I do feel for his family

    If you sympathize with his family, then you should take into consideration the fact that the internet is public domain and, therefore, as improbable as it may be, it is still possible for any one of his family members to see these posts.

  18. Biff Johnstone

    Dread, you failed to mention the rest of his statement “I do feel for his family, and especially for the families of the young boys he molested.”
    -Mr Whipple.

    Do you not feel sorry for the families of the little boys Jackson molested?

  19. Dread P. Roberts

    Dread, you failed to mention the rest of his statement “I do feel for his family, and especially for the families of the young boys he molested.”

    I was under the impression that I had basically already covered this when I mentioned that nothing ever came of the child molestation cases that were brought against him. If you guys know of some factual evidence that proves he is guilty, then please present it so that I can understand why one would be so determined he is guilty.

    Do you not feel sorry for the families of the little boys Jackson molested?

    IF these little boys were actually molested, then of course I feel sorry for them. That is a horrendous tragedy. What sane human wouldn’t?

    Mr Whipple also previously mentioned the fact that the first trial ended when Jackson paid off the parents with millions of dollars. Now, obviously we see this from different perspectives, because I see this as presenting forth the possibility of his innocents, and here’s why – I have a four year old daughter, and the thought of dropping a molestation case for ANY sum of money strikes me as inexplicably unimaginable. I’m literally getting angry just thinking about it right now. What kind of a parent does that if there child was actually molested!?

    If I was Michael, and I was innocent, then I would be so disgusted by encounters with people like this, that I would become a recluse, and try my damnedest to hide my family from the media for their protection. Oh wait…that is what he did.

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