Look, I’m a collector and I make no apologies about that. But as such, it’s my pastime to accumulate material mementos that remind me of those diversions about which I’m most passionate.
It occurred to me tonight – watching the myriad tributes to Michael Jackson and growing increasingly melancholy while doing it – that outside of a few old records, I don’t have any MJ in my collection.
Unless you count the memories. When it comes to those, I’m sitting on a treasure trove; a priceless vault full of crystal-clear recollections that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
- I remember “Rockin’ Robin” being my first favorite song and incessantly requesting it every free-play Friday during third-grade P.E.
- I remember playing a fourth-grade Cowardly Lion in the C.B. Berry Elementary School production of “The Wiz,” wishing the whole time that I was the Scarecrow instead, only because that’s the role Jackson played in the 1978 musical film.
- I remember listening to the entire “Off the Wall” album in one sitting with my brother. Tim and I spent the whole time giggling at each other, the only logical reaction to hearing something so incomprehensibly cool.
- I remember how all of us at Hedrick Middle School were transfixed by seemingly every track on the “Thriller” album, like we knew we were experiencing something exceptionally rare.
- I remember Tim getting to go to the Jacksons’ 1984 Victory tour when it came through Dallas that summer, and being both incredibly jealous of him and incredibly proud for him. After all, how many times does your brother get to see history being made?
- I remember how the “Bad” album doubled as something of a soundtrack for our senior year at Marcus High School.
I remember all of it. The early ’70s “Jackson 5ive” Saturday morning cartoon. The glove. The Moonwalk. The mega-budget, strictly-Hollywood music videos, “We Are the World” and the weird years.
Oh, and 20 years from now, I’m sure to remember exactly where I was when coworker Chris Olds told me that Michael Jackson died: At my desk, frantically trying to finish an issue of Beckett Football, a task that seemed much more important just seconds before.
I was sad at first. I still am, really.
But then I recalled my collection, a mental binder of priceless Jackson memories that I started assembling more than 30 years ago. And one whose value will only appreciate in the next 30.
— Tracy Hackler