Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Thriller Experience

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

My first cassette was Thriller but I was a bit late joining the phenomenon that swept the nation. The setting was fourth grade in a crumbling southern classroom that was a year away from being replaced by a brand spanking new school. I still recall friend - not famous - Tammy Baker swooning over the Thriller album center fold of Michael Jackson having fun with two tiger cubs. Carlos Lewis did the moonwalk better than any other fifth grader could. A feat of expertise that he performed on a dusty kick ball field framed by swings and a jungle gym. Babysitter Jackie Johnston's brother, Donald, wore the Beat It jacket to school and the roller rink. There were puffy Michael Jackson portrait stickers in My Sticker album. The beat of the music shaped these memories because I never was quick to pick-up on lyrics.

The cassette player was second hand. The small device was a hand-held model with wrist cord and a single speaker. Immediately upon receiving the gift I begged to go to Wal-Mart to buy the Thriller cassette. The cassette cost more than the player. Eventually, I moved up to a single speaker boom box and then to a two speaker/two cassette deck boom box. The Bad cassette made its premier listen on the latter. In high school, as Jackson's cultural hold faded, I purchased the Dangerous CD on the day it was released. After that Jackson began his decline that sadly ended this past week. His music immediately recalls memories with exacting clarity.

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