05. The End of an Era: My Thoughts About Jermaine's Book
As I finished reading the last page of Jermaine Jackson’s book, You Are Not Alone Michael: Through a Brother’s Eyes, I wept, openly, for about ten minutes. In fact, I had already been crying as I read the last two chapters. Once I composed myself and went about my business, at various times throughout the day I would find myself in tears again. The next morning, I awoke at 3am; while lying there thinking, the tears started to flow again. I thought to myself, Why has this book affected me like this?
Michael is four years older than I am, so, in a sense, I grew up with him. He captured my heart many years ago, so Jermaine’s memoir took me back down memory lane as he told stories about each period of Michael’s life: the beginning, the middle, and the end.
I remember lying on the living room floor on my elbows in front of the television, watching in awe as they performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, singing “ABC” right along with them. I also remember how much I loved the song “Ben” back then–and now! I remember watching the Jackson 5ive cartoon every Saturday morning. All of these memories made me smile, but the thing that really got me laughing was reading about Jermaine’s memories of “Jackson mania.” Wild! As fans, we don’t get to see it from that perspective.
When Michael broke off from the brothers to nurture his own creativity, my heart went with him. I remember the debut of Thriller on MTV. It was the talk of the town. Everyone was so filled with anticipation to see it, and we were all blown away when it came on. From that point on, all I wanted to do was find out when it would be shown next so I could watch it again. Although I loved the Thriller video, “Beat It” was my favorite song back then.
I remember how fascinated I was that Michael had all these exotic animals at his house in Encino. Since my dad lived in California, I always wished that during one of my visits to see him I could drive past Michael’s house, but that never happened. As a teenager, like so many other girls at the time, I used to daydream that I would someday marry him.
When all the brothers performed on Motown 25, I was excited; Jermaine and Michael hugging while singing “I’ll Be There” was a touching scene. After I read the book, I went to YouTube to watch it again, this time with new eyes, to see Michael notice the fact that Jermaine’s microphone had stopped working. I didn’t catch that before Jermaine pointed it out.
The Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration is one of my all time favorites. I loved it back then and I still love it today. The part I watch over and over again is where he performed with his brothers. Even though he often sang those songs on his solo tours, it wasn’t the same without them. The energy was different. When they were all together, it was magical. Seeing them perform always took me back to the joy I experienced as a child watching them on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Today, it pains my heart to know how quickly Michael’s health deteriorated in the end, how so few people seemed to care, and how the ones who did were ignored. The fact that at rehearsals he had to say, “I just want someone to be nice to me today,” tore me to pieces. It confirms what I’ve always known: everyone wants to feel like they matter. Clearly, in that moment, he didn’t matter.
Some of Michael’s words in his autobiography Moonwalk haunt me now. He was talking about how sad it is for fans when a performer they love dies young. “You feel cheated as a fan that you didn’t get to watch them evolve as they grew older,” he wrote. That is exactly how I feel. Michael has been in my life since childhood, and the fact that I don’t get to grow old “with” him makes me feel cheated.
I think the reason the book affected me so deeply is that it brought home the fact that Michael’s death signals the end of an era. One thing is for sure though: the young boy who captured my heart so many years ago now has it forever.
He deserves to be honored, respected, and remembered in a positive way. Jermaine’s memoir accomplishes that. He has written a very loving book about Michael, and I encourage everyone to read it.
Director of Community Development
P.S. I have written Ten Things I Love about You Are Not Alone Michael: Through a Brother’s Eyes on my personal website if you want to read it.
© 2011, Linda Higgins, All Rights Reserved
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