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Just Beat It

What a coincidence that I referred Michael Jackson (MJ) in my post, only to see his obituary the next day? I am not going to dwell into that. Neither am I going to ramble about how good he was or how bad he was, in his personal life. Nor this post will do anything remotely as to pass a judgement on the morality. This is all about the little connection my life has had with MJ, or more specifically his songs. With lots of people sharing their emotions online and in person over the punitive genius, here is my share to that - a small one, but emotional it is.

The first I heard of Michael Jackson was just before my teens. The first song I heard him sing, completely, was Black or White, in one of music videos in MTV, the very first month, we had a Colour Television with Cable connection. That was January 1998.

I never used to listen to any English Songs. Not that I did not want to, but did not have an opportunity. Even the little I heard through Radio Channels, or at my uncles place (mostly Boney M), I could not follow even a single word that was being sung! But still used to hum as long as I could remember, which was very less anyway.

It was only at school, through couple of my friends, who very knowledgeable about all those videsi songs, I started learning (and not listening) about them - starting from Sinatra, Presley, Boney M, Bob Dylan, Eagles, Beatles, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith to the latest breed in the form of Britney, Enrique, Westlife, Backstreet Boys et al.

It was around the same time, January 1998, that I started listening to many more songs. As always, I did not follow even a single word that was uttered in any of them. But I used to hum for the next few hours by which time I forgot the original music, and would have replaced that with my own! But one song (first one), which had me hooked to a very great extent, and whose music had me humming for many days to come was "Black or White".

Though I could not follow the major part, that was the first English Song, that I could carry in my head - for its wonderful rhythm and unparalled energy. For a person with two left feet like me, Rajini Kanth and Amitabh were fantastic dancers, and Prabhu Deva and Govinda were the greatest, till I saw that punitive man (he looks so even though he is taller than me) in black pants and white shirt, do something which had me dumbstuck. It was a dream, to watch that man on TV, the way he gyrated, the way he moved around, the sheer energy levels.

Little over a week later, I heard what I consider the best of MJ, "Heal The World". Black or White was energetic, Heal the World, was at the other end of the spectrum. Soft, Slow, Soothing, Comforting. It lightens you to a great extent.

Soon, I was through many of his songs, thanks to MTV. But the one, I would hear for a long time to come, came much later. Though I had heard parts of "Beat It" couple of times, I never realized that it was MJ's piece. It was only at Chennai around 2002, as I was surfing through different channels, that I stumbled across that video. The song had just started, and I experienced the same kind of impact that I had when hearing Black or White. I was all pumped up. It was there in the music, the voice, the attitude in the song. It certainly pumped me up, to such an extent that within the next one week I had a CD of his songs (my first music CD - a pirated one!).

We had recently purchased a CD player then. And as a matter of ritual, I used to listen to that one piece, for months to come. My sister used to taunt me and tease me over my inability to master what was being said in that song, despite hearing hundred times! But then, who wanted to know the lyrics? The vibes were good enough for me.

During my Final Examination days, I had a simple ritual - Wear the same Jean, Switch Shirts on Alternate Days, Have my breakfast by 6.30 AM, Cup of Coffee after that, and finally one round of "Beat It". And Off I was on my bike to the Examination Centre. Never during those Eight Days, did I miss listening to that song, for the song was like the springboard for me for energy. As I rode my bike towards the Examination Centre, I used to shout "Just Beat It", heard only by me within that helmet of mine, just to stay motivated. Somehow, that had me going through that examination phase.

A few years later as I read its lyrics online, I realized that I certainly got the spirit of the song wrong. While the song advocates running away from trouble, rather than hurting yourself in facing them, in reality, it did the opposite to me. But then who cares? Even if I understood the spirit wrongly, it certainly helped me stay positive.

That did not however, affect my liking for him. News about him being a paedophile (possibly) did not prevent me from admiring him. He was still the greatest dancer I have seen anywhere. His effortless and insanely graceful moonwalk, the greatest dance step I have ever seen. Heal the World, the most soothing of all English Songs and a very very good video, I have heard / seen. That high pitched crooning (which is very difficult for most men), a trademark MJ part.

If the first knowledge about him had me in awe, the last news of him had me in tears, not because he had made a profound impact on me or my lifestyle, but because of the greatness he had in him, which came out forcefully in his songs. A greatness I admired, respected and loved.


me... said…
My tribute to mj is i v changed my ringtone to "JAM" and i intend to keep it till his memory ceases to haunt me. (i.e never considering his song is my ringtone)..

Anyway i could nt help but ask as to where you were when you published this post.. unless it was a scheduled post or something.

yours truly
another MJ Fan
Ketan said…
Very coincidentally, the only complete song of MJ I've heard is 'Ghost' from Blood on the Dance floor. It was a sheer impulse 'cuz I don't download English songs with lyrics much! My favorite English music has been by the Prodigy, and some other instrumental music. And even I'd downloaded that song just 2 days before his death, and I even thought that he's suffering from skin cancer and...

I've never been failed to be impressed by his dancing.

I'll try to listen to the songs you've mentioned.

me... said…
Sundar may i know who that is?? i really could n get it..
Sundar said…
My fav MJ track is 'They dont care about us".. (Certainly not because of its lyrics)
me... said…
Oh man.. i liked the earlier template!!
Ketan said…

You've actually got your blog copyrighted that now I can't blatantly lift material from it?

Nice theme, though to me it doesn't make much difference viewing your posts through the cell phone.

Very busy or what? You've yet to read my most voluminous lump of Bullosophy, something that you'd demanded. ;) Talking of my post--'Insanity personified'.

G Saimukundhan said…
MSP, Am experimenting with different templates. Same template bores me to death. Though, it is also true that I am not very particular about these things. If I cannot think of a post or complete a post, this is what I come up with.

Sundar Kutti, They Don't Care About Us, is my second favourite. While posting this blog, I was not able to remember the song. Hence, did not refer to it.

Ketan, My first thought about MJ's skin was that he had done plastic surgery on his entire body (forgive my medical knowledge). Only later did I know it to be vitiligo. But was rather surprised to know that it can spread so completely on a person.

Insanity Personified and Interesting Article, I am yet to read it. Will do it sometime soon (certainly). Have been busy deciding on templates over posts! (form over substance)

To think that you have posted such a long post with mobile phone, makes me wonder, what kind of fingers you are endowed with?

Ketan said…

Let me clarify. I use cell phone post only comments and relatively short posts like 'another interesting article' and 55ers. 'Insanity personified' has a picture for which I'd to use Microsoft Paint, and had posted it using PC at a cyber cafe. Actually, I was worried you shouldn't be miffed by explicitly explicit content in that post (now this is merely a cunning innuendo to make you read that post ;) ).

Coincidentally, I was also experimenting with a new theme after posting the 'Jawani Diwani'-post, but it seems like lot of hardwork.

Anonymous said…
Hello GS,
Been bloghopping this morning and landed here. Very nice blog..will be back to read more :-)
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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