(written in June 2009)
I forget which TV channel we were watching, but we were talking about a couple of John Landis films – Animal House and The Blues Brothers – when the channel started showing “Thriller”. To me, this was a defining moment – I had seen music videos, but they were puerile stuff, either showing the band or the performer on the stage or studio performing, or some odd sequences put together any old how, without a concept to hold the stuff together.
“Thriller” changed all that. This was the real thing – a concept, which somehow bracketed itself – MJ as a normal human, changing into a monster, back into a human, and the little chilling touch at the end, back into a monster again. A story within a story, and beautifully told.
And a great music track to go with it. Still one of the most wonderful danceable song, with the tightest band imagineable, and some truly awesome lyrics:
Darkness falls across the land
The midnite hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize yawls neighbourhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpses shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzy ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller
And of course, the greatest dancer I have ever been privileged to watch. I never caught MJ live – my wife went to his show in Mumbai and still raves about it – but on the evidence of his videos and his stageshows that I managed to watch on dvd and TV, he’s got to be the greatest dancer ever.
There are many stuff by MJ that I love – Beat It, Smooth Criminal, Man in the Mirror, Black & White, and others – but to me, Thriller will always be the MJ track. Sure, it had the magical touch of Quincy Jones, and it had the master John Landis making the video – but only MJ made it happen.
I don’t know what demons destroyed MJ, and I don’t want to know. He had suffered much, but he had given a lot to the world to enjoy and remember him by – and he has gone where he can’t suffer any more. Thanks MJ, thanks for living in my lifetime. Thanks for all the music and most of all, thanks for Thriller.