Monday, December 3, 2007

The "Gloved One": 25 Years and Counting

I'm willing to bet that for most of this past Saturday December 1st was just that: Saturday, December 1, 2007. Yet for some of us, Saturday was far more significant. It was 25 years ago to the day that Michael Jackson released his album "Thriller" on the Epic Records label.

Michael was famous in the United States prior to the release of "Thriller", thanks to five prior albums that were successful in their own right. However, "Thriller" propelled Michael to a whole other level of International fame. Twenty-five years later, "Thriller" is the greatest selling album of all time, having sold more than 104 million albums worldwide, and counting. In the United States alone, the album continues to average sales of 60,000 units per year. The album won 7 Grammies. It set numerous other records, too many to mention here, but the records it set are not my point of focus. What the album meant to music, is.

I'd be lying if I told you I remembered Thriller when it was released because I was a mere 11 months old. My earliest memory of Michael, who is by far the greatest performer/entertainer/musician of all time, with the statistics to back it up, came in Christmas of 1987. Thanks to the always reliable Santa Claus, I was the recipient of my first stereo A.K.A. "boom box" as we referred to them back then. Accompanying said boom box was my first ever cassette tape: Michael Jackson's "Bad."

They say really good music makes you feel something, and listening to "Bad" was my first recollection of feeling something when I heard the sounds emanating from the speakers of my boom box. What I felt for the first time in my life was rhythm. I felt soul. I felt inspiration. This was all very new to me...very fascinating...very cool. Apparently I'm not the only one who felt that way, regardless of age at the time (I was 6.) because the album had five songs reach #1 on the Billboard Charts - the first and still the only album ever to achieve such status. I'm sure if I looked hard enough in the top of my parent's garage I could find that old dusty cassette tape, though I doubt it would still play after being blasted so loudly so many times that were probably past my bedtime on a school night.

Every generation has their musical artist(s) that define them. For my generation, it was and always will be Michael. Twenty-five years later "Thriller" continues to stand the test of time. Every time I hear the songs or see the epic Steven Spielberg directed music video (which by the way is the best music video ever, hands down) it takes me back to my childhood. I can't help but wonder if one day as a very old man I hear songs from "Thriller" on my generation's oldies station and tell my grandchildren "Now that's good music!", only to have them laugh at me, communicating to me that I'm out of touch. Statistics don't lie. "Thriller" will live on.

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