Whoa, I’ve been wanting to blog non-stop since Thursday night but things have been hectic. Here’s the rundown of what’s been going on, complete with video and funny anecdotes:
Thursday: WHY DID MICHAEL JACKSON DIE?!?!?!?!? I am so sad about this. I am definitely one of those people who focuses on his talent and accomplishments over his personal life, and looks at him through the lens of someone whose career had worldwide importance, and who was abused and deprived of a normal childhood, severely detached from the real world, and spent much of his later life trying to compensate for that. So don’t talk about how he was weird. I don’t believe that was entirely his fault. And before he was weird, he was blindingly brilliant in a way that I don’t know if anyone ever will be again. So it’s sad that he’s dead, especially before he got a chance to rebuild his career. And you have to admit we were all pretty darn mean to him for the last 20 years. Who can honestly say they haven’t made him the butt of a joke? That’s really sad and mean. So deal with his passing respectfully. I hope he’s at peace now.
But, when things like this happen, it reminds me of why I love New York. Because when momentous things like this happen, we observe it in public, with each other, even and especially when we don’t even know each other. On Thursday night, I was walking home from a music event, and happened to pass through Union Square, when I saw a big mob of people clapping and singing and yelling and seemingly looking at something going on in the middle. I made my way through the crowd to see what was going on, but I never got to the middle, where the show was, because the crowd was what was going on. Turned out, it was a throng of people all singing Michael Jackson songs and dancing and clapping. People who didn’t know each other and didn’t even know all the words of the songs. But they just wanted to be close to each other and share in the grief and the celebration of an incredible artist’s work, so they crowded together in a rhythmically bobbing clump and shout-sang and danced until they had gone through his entire catalog.
Every time we would finish a song there would be a somewhat calm moment when we’d figure out what to sing next, so a few times I took the lead and started off the songs, and it was so fun to be an impromptu choral director of a bunch of adult strangers on the street in the middle of the night. I wish everyone were musically trained and had an ear for remembering all the backup vocal parts and instrumental lines, but most people stuck to the main vocal line while I would try to fill in the other parts on my own. People would always laugh with recognition at my attention to detail when I would throw in the musical accent that was an indispensable part of the song, but not part of the vocal line, and it was great. Afterwards some European tourist guy pulled me aside and was like “You are excellent. You know all the songs, you know every song. You lead everyone. Really, you are incredible.” It was so sweet. I’m so glad that some random European guy appreciated a silly New Yorker making sure that the Michael Jackson street singing party went full-steam for as long as possible. I wasn’t doing it for recognition, I was just doing what needed to be done. Fabulously, there was much video taken of this event and posted immediately to YouTube, so here is a video of me and the crowd singing “Rock With You,” in which I provide the essential “ba da da da” that comes in the chorus, and finish it off with an “Ok, that’s it,” at the end. I’m the one in the green shirt. 🙂 Thanks to whoever uploaded this!