All right. I know that I promised you all that every Sunday in September would feature a one-hit-wonder. But, for the final Sunday in September, I am going to be changing the rules, because as it so happens, the story that I really want to tell is going to be linked to a song that is anything but a one-hit-wonder.
Don't worry though. When you read my story for today, I think you'll understand.
Over the years, I've had many people come and go in my life. Some of them were just passing through, while others are people who I wish I had never crossed paths with in the first place.
And sometimes there are people who have made a huge impression in your life, disappeared for at least a decade or two, and as fate would have it, a situation arose in which you were reconnected with each other and it's like no time passed at all.
Allow me to show you some visual proof that such an event can happen.
The date was September 27, 2013. The time was 11:30 in the evening. The place was a little pub and grill called “The Barley Mow”, where the live music was playing, the eats were delicious, and the conversation flowed seamlessly. And up above, you will see a photo of myself and two of my friends from grade school. From left to right is Sarah, Orijit, and myself. And right off the bat, I can say three things about this photograph.
Number one...I have one humongous noggin! Seriously, I now understand why people in class always wanted me to sit in the back row! But in my defense, I am built just like my maternal grandfather. I guess the body structure skips a generation.
Number two...you might notice that I seem to be somewhat winking in the shot. It's a combination of a bright flash bulb from the mobile phone that snapped the photo (taken by Sarah's boyfriend James, who also joined us) and the fact that it was quite late when the picture was taken.
Number three...as you can see, we all had a blast!
Now, because I have been told by my pals that I apparently have a great memory, I want to share with you how I met both of these fine people.
In regards to Orijit, we've been friends for a quarter of a century. He transferred to our elementary school midway through our first grade year from Montreal, but I don't think it was until maybe the fourth grade that we started to become friends. We would always go off by ourselves over by the bleachers in our school playground and just chat about anything and everything that came through our heads during recess. After eighth grade graduation, we went to different high schools, and midway through high school he moved to a town that was a considerable distance away. As if by fate, we reconnected in university and resumed our friendship for two more years before I was the one who moved away. But we've remained friends ever since, and we still talk twenty-five years later.
Sarah, I believe moved to our school during second grade. And, again, it probably took some time before we really got to know each other (all three of us were sort of shy back in those days). I think that by sixth grade, our friendship was cemented. In fact, I have a confession. Sarah taught me how to slow dance at one of the first sixth grade dances we attended! Now, Sarah and I also attended different high schools after graduation, but in recent years, I have reconnected with her as well. Given that she has a job working at the town shopping mall, I tend to bump into her quite a bit!
In fact, we're actually making plans for next year to get back together again. And this time we're going to see if we can get a lot more of our former classmates together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the beginning of our eighth grade year.
(Holy hell...has it been twenty years already? Yikes!)
Seriously though, I think that it would be a hoot to get together with my elementary school classmates. I've always said that I would never, ever go to a high school reunion, and I still stand by that opinion even now, even though I would love to pull a "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" rant on some of the people there and tell them that they had "ugly hearts and that I didn't give a flying CENSORED what they thought.
But an elementary school class reunion? I'm so there.
The truth is that at the time we were all in elementary school, we were all stupid kids back then. We were all still trying to feel out what was right and what was wrong. We all made academic and social mistakes and learned from them, and we all became better adults for it.
(Well...most of us did, anyway.)
(Well...most of us did, anyway.)
I certainly hope that the mini Class of 1995 reunion is a go, because I think we've all grown and changed so much. And I also think that we are all at an age where we can let bygones be bygones and just talk about the good memories and the good times.
So for today's blog entry, I decided to do a song that focused on the joy of remembering the good times, but was recorded during a time in which we were still in elementary school.
And, well...while none of us really did fall in love in elementary school...the song does kind of fit. So, without further adieu, let's hear it for the late Michael Jackson.
ARTIST: Michael Jackson
SONG: Remember The Time
DATE RELEASED: January 14, 1992
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS: #3
And yes...I was a Michael Jackson fan when I was in grade school. Still am actually, four years after his death in June 2009.
Now, I know that back in the days in which Michael Jackson was in his prime, he would have some of the most elaborate music videos of all time. In the case of this song, it certainly rings true, as the music video clocks in at just over nine minutes in length. You try finding a music video released within the last five years that matches that amount of time! But if you really just want to hear the song, just skip ahead to the three and a half minute mark.
(Well, unless you really want to see Eddie Murphy and Iman act in the role of Egyptian pharoah and bride, that is.)
Anyway, just to give you an indication as to how well the song performed globally, you already know that it peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts, but it also went #1 on the R&B charts in 1992. The song also peaked at #1 in New Zealand, and charted within the Top 10 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. And, it was the nineteeth most requested song in 1992. I'd say that classifies as a hit, wouldn't you?
The song certainly fits in a high school or grade school reunion setting. After all, the song's main theme is remembering the good times. Remembering your first love. Remembering the good times that were shared. Remembering everything that made you friends in the first place.
And as it turns out, there was a lot of speculation over whom (if anyone) Michael Jackson wrote the song about.
Many believed that the song was about Debbie Rowe. If that name doesn't sound familiar to you, I'll refresh your memory. She is the mother of Michael Jackson's two eldest children, Prince and Paris, and she was Jackson's second wife, the two tying the knot in 1996 and splitting up three years later. It was speculated that Michael Jackson kicked off his relationship with Rowe right around the time that Jackson was recording his “Dangerous” album. It certainly was an interesting theory, but it was disproven by song co-writer Teddy Reilly, who explained on Twitter in 2011 that Debbie Rowe was not who the song was written for.
Well, how about Michael Jackson's first wife, Lisa Marie Presley? The two shocked people everywhere when they not only announced that they were in love, but tied the knot on May 18, 1994. The marriage certainly didn't last very long, but Lisa Marie did make a memorable appearance in Jackson's “You Are Not Alone” video. Alas, the song is not about Lisa Marie either, as Jackson and Presley were not together during the filming of this video.
Interestingly enough, when “Remember The Time” was released in January 1992, Jackson dedicated the single “with love” to Diana Ross, the lead singer of “Diana Ross and The Supremes” and a longtime friend of Jackson. To confirm this as truth, Jackson's brother Jermaine explained in his book “You Are Not Alone: Michael: Through a Brother's Eyes” that Michael told him that the song was “written for Diana Ross in mind; the one great love that, as far as he was concerned, escaped him”.
So according to Jermaine Jackson, Michael had a thing for the lead Supreme. Now, whether or not it is exactly the truth, or whether Jermaine was flat out embellishing the truth, I can't say. However, I do admit that I have to take some stock in it, given how close he was to Ross.
Though, by that logic, the song could very well be about Brooke Shields, or Elizabeth Taylor, or even Bubbles the chimp.
We may never know the real truth about who Michael Jackson wrote the song for (if anybody), but one thing you cannot deny. It is a fantastic song that still holds up some two decades later.
TRIVIA: It also happens to be one of the few Michael Jackson songs to chart during two different time periods in the United Kingdom. It did very well in the UK when it first debuted in 1992, but when Jackson passed away in 2009, the song re-charted on the UK charts that summer, peaking at #81.
I suppose it makes sense. Michael Jackson's music was huge during my childhood, and he was a big part of my life soundtrack. I never really did learn how to Moonwalk, nor could I mimic the zombie dance in the “Thriller” video, but I did like him a lot. Even through the allegations of child abuse and his bizarre way of living (which I attribute to the fact that he never really did have a childhood growing up), I still respected him for what he was first and foremost...a gifted musical artist, a talented dancer, and extraordinary songwriter. As far as I'm concerned, he earned his “King of Pop” title.
And, I think that's why I'm so grateful that I did have the opportunity to have a childhood. Was everything Brady Bunch like? Absolutely not. There were some really dark times in my childhood history that I would rather not relive. But there were some very good memories about it as well.
And some of those memories were shared two nights ago with two childhood friends at a little place known as the Barley Mow.
Whether we choose to admit it or not, our childhood memories shaped us into the people we all became. As children some of us were more emotional than other children (this DEFINITELY held true for me), but as adults we learn to figure things out and adapt. As children, some of us are stronger than others, but as adults, we take our strengths and we use them to our advantage so that we can help other people find theirs. And as adults, sometimes holding on to the good memories that we had with each other as kids is all we have to hold onto when life decides to throw a curveball towards us.
Even if those memories involve riding on a Tilt-A-Whirl at the Great Balloon Rodeo in the pouring rain, calling a teacher by his first name and getting detention for it, getting kicked out of gym class for defending yourself to a less than understanding gym teacher, or working together on class projects to create something extraordinary...those are the memories that made us...well...us.
Do you remember the time?