Xavier Smith: Happy birthday, Michael

Xavier Smith • Updated Aug 30, 2017 at 1:00 PM

For reasons I still don’t understand or can articulate, Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone” was and is my favorite song from the late king of R&B. 

The songwriting is beautiful and is supported with music that puts you in a trance. It’s also the first song I remember from Jackson. I was born in 1991 and the song was released four years later. 

Tuesday would have been Michael Jackson’s 59th birthday and in the middle of my workday, I found myself reminiscing about the impact the music of, arguably, the greatest entertainer of all-time had on my own life. 

It’s without question that Jackson made an impact on countless others as he’s sold more than a billion records around the world and nearly 400 awards. He amazed us with voice, fashion and unforgettable performances that seemed well ahead of their time and out of this world. 

“Thriller” was the first and only music video that scared me when I was younger. My young brain wasn’t ready for the scenes of walking dead, cryptic transformation of Jackson and the haunting voice (and laugh) of Vincent Prince. 

It was a horror movie in my eyes and one of the most captivating music video I’ve ever seen. 

Not too far behind the “Thriller” music video was the music video for “Remember the Time.” The star-studded video featuring Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy and Iman, along with director John Singleton, held the viewer’s attention for the entire video.

The storytelling and action in the video was synonymous with the high-quality production that went into almost every Michael Jackson video. 

I also paused Tuesday to think about the heavily documented life of Jackson, which was more complicated than anyone could begin to understand, in my opinion. 

From childhood to his death in 2009, Jackson, in part due to his uniqueness, was one of the most scoped celebrities of all time. 

In 2015, I spoke with Watertown police officer Larry Allison, who spent time working for Jackson as the star’s personal security. 

“Michael was a very nice man,” Allison said. “People think he was crazy, but people made him the way he was.”

Allison recalled a night when he escorted Jackson to The Rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Allison said although Jackson was heavily covered to disguise himself, he was quickly recognized.

“Michael is just standing there watching everything and this business-looking guy in a suit and tie comes up, looks at him and just drops his briefcase and drops to his knee and starts kissing his hands,” he said. “When things like that happen, it’s hard to be normal no matter how hard you try.”

There will never be another Michael Jackson. Like so many musical greats that have passed, such as Prince, David Bowie, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross and others, the original, unmistaken talent he possessed was something that can only be imitated but never duplicated. 

Xavier Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.

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