Memories Of Michael Jackson's Music

The staff and students of Youth Radio reflect on Michael Jackson's death with personal stories about their relationship with Jackson's music.

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GUY RAZ, host:

We'll end today where we began, with the legacy of Michael Jackson.

In Oakland, California, the staff and students at Youth Radio got together to reminisce about him. Every one of them had a personal story to tell. And 18-year-old Venus Morris started young.

Ms. VENUS MORRIS (Youth Radio): Man, I've been knowing Michael Jackson since I was in my mom's stomach. That's what she used to listen to when I was little, so I was like I'm also...

(Singing) I want to rock with you all night.

Ms. MORRIS: I used to walk around the house singing it when I was little. My mom said it was a Michael Jackson song that was my real first sentence.

Mr. BRANDON McFARLAND (Youth Radio): (Singing) Do you remember the time when we fell in love? Do you remember the time when we first met?

A lot of artists now, you know, they don't write their own material. Their music is manufactured. It's not coming from a genuine place, I don't think. I think everything Michael Jackson did, you felt it. You had no choice but to feel it. He was a poor boy from Gary, Indiana, who grew up in a talented but abusive household.

Ms. BELIA MAYENO SAAVEDRA (Youth Radio): I've always felt sad for, like, the existence that he had. Like, being that famous from when he was little and just being treated like a commodity. What a crazy thing it must be to be like so famous that you don't get to participate in the world.

Ms. MEAGAN KEANE (Youth Radio): His appearance and his almost mutative plastic surgery, I think, is a real byproduct of a sad man. One of my favorite songs is "Man in the Mirror."

(Singing) I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways...

It's so ironic that it was a song sung by Michael Jackson, because you sort of look at him at the end of his life and, I don't know, his appearance seemed to be somebody that really struggled with looking at himself in the mirror.

(Singing) Take a look at yourself and then make the change.

Mr. PATRICK JOHNSON (Youth Radio): As much as Mike had some really interesting extracurricular issues going on with him, he made great music. You know, I always saw him as being a black dude who was from Gary, Indiana, you know, who made soul music. So, I never really questioned, oh, is Mike black or whatever it is. And I mean, I'm quite certain some people had those conversations. But for me and the people I were around, like, no, he was making, as we would call, black music.

Ms. SAAVEDRA: To me, he sort went to this whole next level, and I think we carried him there. He kind of ceased having personhood a while ago. His fame sort of took him out of the level of personhood. We do some crazy, crazy things to people when they're famous, and that's really sad.

Mr. McFARLAND: Heaven is cracking. Like, heaven is really cracking right now because one of the biggest stars on this planet is up there right about now.

RAZ: That's 23-year-old Brandon McFarland of Oakland, reflecting on the death of Michael Jackson. Before Brandon, we heard from Venus Morris, Belia Mayeno Saavedra, Meagan Keane and Patrick Johnson. Their stories were produced by Youth Radio.

(Soundbite of song "Show You The Way To Go")

THE JACKSON FIVE: (Singing) Ah, let me show you. Let me show you the way to go. I don't know everything but there's something I do know. I know. I know. I've read and heard a lot and now I'm ready to show, that we can come together and think like one. Come together now. Live together underneath the sun. Please, please let me show you.

Let me show you. Let me show you the way to go. Follow me, my friends. Let me show you. Come on. Let me show you the way to go. Just put your trust in me, I'll try not to let you down. Let you down. Let you down. The job is hard to do, but only we work...

RAZ: And that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz. Have a great evening.

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