Today was one of those days that you’ll remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. Yeah, but which piece of news?
Farrah Fawcett? My boss came out of his office as if fired from an ejector seat.
Michael Jackson? I’d spent the afternoon looking at old Packers photos and heard the news only after emerging from my friend’s basement.
Among the many tributes pouring forth from the music blogs was this, from Aiken over at Licorice Pizza, as he sorted through the day’s news upon arriving home in Florida:
“In the past hour, my childhood has passed in front of my eyes.”
I’m sure many share that sentiment. But I come from a different time.
Farrah Fawcett became that girl when I was in college. She was pleasant enough on the eyes. I’d enjoyed her as David Janssen’s neighbor on the beach in “Harry O.”
Oh, yeah, there was just something about Farrah Fawcett.
Something that said no, not ever, no way.
As for Michael Jackson, he’ll always represent Christmas to me.
The Jackson 5’s take on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” was a revelation when I heard it for the first time in 1970. I had no idea there were pop, rock, R&B and soul versions of Christmas songs, all played only at a certain time of year. I’ve been hooked ever since.
The Jackson 5’s singles were all right, but my 11-year-old brother was the bigger fan. So, too, was my wife, when she was 13.
Janet’s copy of the Jackson 5’s “Third Album” — the one with “I’ll Be There” and “Mama’s Pearl” — has been so loved that the album jacket has long been held together by masking tape. She got it when it came out in September 1970. She was in eighth grade.
She’s listened to it countless times. It went to “a lot of sleepovers.”
I listened to it for the first time tonight, curious what was beyond the hits. When released, it was the Jackson 5’s third album in just 10 months. There’s some filler, as you’d expect. But there also are some solid, if less heard, tunes.
“Can I See You In The Morning” and “How Funky Is Your Chicken,” the Jackson 5, from “Third Album,” 1970. It’s out of print.
The former, written by guitarist Deke Richards, has a pop-funk groove that cooks. Richards and Berry Gordy were half of The Corporation, four guys who wrote and produced the Jackson 5’s earliest singles.
The latter brings the sort of stone funk you’d expect from a tune co-written by Willie Hutch (who also co-wrote “I’ll Be There”).
Yet this is where the trail ends, for us at least. Neither Janet nor I were into Michael Jackson beyond the Jackson 5.
But we’ve heard the rest of it. We appreciate its greatness.