My friends have started to notice that I'm going through a bit (bit?) of a Michael Jackson phase. Actually, it's a music phase that is heavily leaning toward Michael Jackson, but I can see the confusion. As often happens with adventures, this phase popped up at the perfect time because I was about to wear out the Darling Buds CD that I pirated from YouTube videos.
I've always loved Michael Jackson's music and have tons of favorite songs. He was pretty much a genius when it came to crafting pop hits. His personal life aside, the man was an undeniable talent when it came to singing and dancing. Can I get a Shamon!
So, being in this phase of heavy musical consumption (and having just seen the MJ doc This Is It for the first time), I was curious about some of the lesser known Michael Jackson songs floating around in the musicsphere. Or, more accurately, all of the songs he ever recorded. Yah, those ones. Pretty sure the tall guy with the beard at the library thinks I'm a mega-fan at this point and I would have a hard time defending myself. I've now listened to almost all of his (Michael's, not the bearded librarian's) CDs and was happy to discover some new favorite songs.
Coincidentally, this phase also coincided with the five-year anniversary of the King of Pop's passing. More adventure serendipity. Since MJ lived right down the road from my hometown for many years at Neverland Ranch, I had a feeling that there would be a few people out there remembering him yesterday. I was right. Adventure!
I took my little brother, Erik, along and we drove out to the ranch to check it out. Or, I should say, the gate of the ranch. Actually, Justin and I did this for an adventure during the first year of Rebecca's Big Adventure but it looks completely different now. I remembered dirt, gravel, a few weeds, and a nondescript gate. Pretty sure we were in the wrong place, but because we are sheep we saw a couple of cars pull over and take pictures so we assumed it was the right place. The real gate entrance is fully landscaped with trees and flowers and grass and looks like a very small, manicured park.
Before we even parked we could see that the stone walls on either side of the gate were covered with pictures and messages and there were mountains of flowers and candles and stuffed animals. There were also a lot of long, hand-written or typed letters. I wonder who reads those...
I chatted with a few of the older ladies that were milling around and one of them asked where we were from. I told them Santa Maria and one of them said, "Oh, when you got out of the car we thought you looked European!" I laughed and thanked her. Maybe I'll wear my fedora more often.
Erik and I read a lot of the letters along the walls (Oh, I guess that's who reads them). People from all over the world have visited these gates and signed their names on the stones. We saw Argentina, Germany, Canada, Japan, Mexico. Many of the messages thanked Michael for the joy his music brought to their lives. It was all very sweet and a testament to the power of music in general.
We signed our names too, but we didn't leave anything else. Instead we just soaked up the good vibes. I've been to a few celebrity memorial sites over the years (Jimi Hendrix, James Dean, etc.) and none felt as peaceful as the gates of Neverland. Peaceful and, of course, groovy. Someone had brought their mini boombox along and set it in the driveway so we all got to rock out a little and one woman played her two little granddaughters "Thriller" for the first time from her SUV.
We didn't really want to leave, but since there was no real reason to stay, we waved goodbye to our temporary friends and headed back to Los Olivos as we listened to Xscape. As we drove I was overwhelmed by feelings of wanting to go feed hungry children and rescue elephants. I also felt like I wanted to dance. Since there weren't any hungry kids or elephants in the car though (just us Ross'), I car danced. I car danced and I sang. Sometimes I wonder if I embarrass Erik, but he never says anything so I'm just going to assume I don't.
Leave a comment below with your favorite Michael Jackson song or story!
"Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be able to treat life as art."