On a list of important things to know about me, my love of Michael Jackson would probably feature quite high. Over the years friends, boys and hair styles have come and gone, changed with the seasons, left me full of regrets and broken hearted, but one thing, one person, one true love has always remained; Michael.
I can’t lie; writing this has been like pulling teeth, but thanks to my enthusiasm, big mouth, and a glass of cava (at a meeting! I know! But that’s just how xoJaneUK roll), I said I would, so that was that. It’s not that I’m embarrassed or ashamed or don’t love over-sharing on the internet, but despite being just one of millions of fans, my relationship with Michael still, somehow, feels quite private.
Despite the fact that I, in relation to many of his fans, register relatively low on the obsessionitor, it still feels like I’m the only one who truly understands his greatness, the only one who really loves him. Also, although I’d love to gloss over it with bright red give-a-fuck nail varnish, I obviously can’t ignore the fact that in the past 20 years Michael became a controversial figure; so let me just address that here and now.
I know half of you will believe the rumours and think I’m a complete loony, but with all my heart I don’t believe Michael would ever have harmed a child.
Yes he was eccentric and strangely childlike, and had far too much cosmetic surgery (and yes, I do believe this was all down to his lack of childhood and the pressures of being the most famous person on the planet, and constantly being scrutinised and surrounded by people who only knew how to take and demand), but I don’t believe for one second that he was capable of the things he was accused of.
To me Michael never was and never will be a freak or a monster. I will always see him as a beautiful, pure, loving, gentle genius.
I don’t know when my relationship with Michael first began. All I know is that I don’t remember ever not being a Michael Jackson fan. I’m not sure where it came from, but as a child I had a tape with Off The Wall on one side and Thriller on the other (yes, I was a child bootlegger), and I listened to it repeatedly. For years I don’t think I realised there was any other music in the world; Michael was all I listened to, still is sometimes.
And over the years my relationship with Michael and his music just grew. When I was about 8 I’d write him letters asking, begging to visit Neverland. Then for years I fanatically watched and recorded any programme with anything to do with him (interviews, concerts, biopics), and collected newspaper and magazine cuttings, even during the bad times.
I vividly remember buying and listening to Dangerous for the first time, examining the tape sleeve in minute detail, wishing I’d be one of the people lucky enough to get a mention in the thank you’s. And to this day I still have a full size Michael Jackson cutout (shout out to my mum who begged Woolworth’s to let her have it once they were done with it) in my bedroom; it’s been here so long it doesn’t even register on my radar as unusual anymore.
When I hear a Michael Jackson song it’s not like hearing music by any other artist; something inside me switches, it’s like my soul comes alive. His voice is just filled with such pure emotion, such love, such truth, such passion, such sadness. His music really meant something – to him, to me, to millions of people the world over.
I was at Glastonbury, in a dance tent, enthusiastically singing along to East 17 when I first heard the rumours that he’d died. To say it was surreal is an understatement.
I know it sounds dramatic, but when Michael died it felt like something changed in the world. On some level I stopped believing that good and justice would always prevail. I always believed that he was innocent of all the awful things he was accused of, and always feared that one day the pressure would take its toll.
For years Michael was hunted, teased and tormented out of greed, jealousy and sheer callousness, but I always hoped that one day, in his lifetime, the truth would come out, and he would be vindicated and once more given the love, respect and peace he deserved. When he died, without his name being cleared, it broke my heart. I felt so angry towards all the fairweather fans; all the people who were suddenly singing his praises, when just days before they’d seen him as a joke. It made me sick.
This summer I finally made it to Neverland. I made the pilgrimage with my friend Kat, another MJ fan(atic) (she has an MJ tattoo – I’m eternally jealous). We arrived just before sunset, wearing matching MJ jumpers (natch), after a 9 hour drive during which we only listened to Michael. As we got out the car we saw a lone stag in the grounds, and then, as if my magic, it suddenly disappeared, like it had never been there at all.
As the sun set over the mountains the sky turned orange and then the brightest purple – it was the most incredible sunset either of us had ever seen. A rare, strange, beautiful, spiritual moment neither of us will ever forget.
So there you have it, my ultimate, un-objectifying OOT. And because I’m sharing, I’ll leave you with this, probably my favourite ever Michael Jackson song. It’s not one of his ground-breaking classics, but one of his early solo offerings from 1975. And thanks to the power of Youtube you can enjoy this enthusiastic performance from 1976, featuring a questionable flared pant suit and some very lanky, lolzy, '70s dancing.
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