Generation X Icon: Missing Michael Jackson More Than I Missed Him Before

Generation X Loses Icons

Michael Jackson Spiral Notebook, 1980s
Michael Jackson Spiral Notebook, 1980s

Michael Jackson died yesterday and Generation X mourned the loss of a childhood icon. Every radio station in Oklahoma City played Ben, Beat It or Billie Jean, but I had these words from a Randy VanWarmer’s song running through my head:

But I miss you more than I missed you before
And now where I’ll find comfort, God knows
‘Cause you left me just when I needed you most…

It sounds silly, but stay with me.

Melanie Dewey, my BFF from high school can confirm it. I was the biggest Michael Jackson fan at Caney Valley High School in 1983, the year Billie Jean and Beat It became #1 hits two months apart. Jackson was plastered all over my locker. Nobody danced wilder and crazier than me when his songs were played at the Barnwarmer, Snowball and homecoming dances. I loved Michael Jackson.

Then, one day, I woke up and Michael Jackson’s weirdness reached a tipping point. I could hardly stand to look at him. He was not the same person whose picture hung in my locker. I left him. I missed him. I never stopped waiting for the Michael Jackson I loved to reappear. I always thought he might, but it never happened. He died. And, although some have said he died a long time ago, that is just tragic literature. He did not die a long time ago. We left him a long time ago, in the moment he evolved and changed into something we did not like, and there is a big difference.

Michael Jackson’s Fan Base

And, it goes without saying Michael Jackson left his Thriller fan base, also known as Generation X. And, now he is gone forever, and whether I cherish it or regret it, his music wallpapers the memories of my youth.

This is what we do. We change. And when we do, some people to leave us. And, this is what we do. People change and when they do, sometimes, we leave them. And whether we were leaving or being left we still mourn. And, as the song says:

God knows.

What Generation X icon do you mourn?

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  1. says

    I just came over from Lance’s site.

    I don’t think I have been an avid fan of MJ but I admired his music and talent. It was obvious to me that he was one tormented soul, save when he was on stage. With all the millions he once had, he was never truly happy.

    Strangely, I felt sad too at the news of his death. Despite all his weirdness, here is one man who has touched and healed millions through his music.

  2. Pink Ink says

    I feel the same way!!

    I graduated from high school in 1987 and still remember Thriller, Billie Jean, PYT, and Man in the Mirror. But when he turned “strange” I, too, wondered if I would ever see the artist I admired from before…

    I hope he can be at peace now.

  3. Tabitha@ichoosebliss says

    I was/am a MJ fan. No, I did not like when he wanted to change his looks so drastically, but I also knew/understood that inside this person was deeply troubled.

    I pray he is now engulfed in peace and can love himself finally.

  4. says

    @DIRTY MOUTH MOM – wild name! =) think that is a legit site – I’ve heard it referenced in media several times. It’s funny how much of those songs remained in my mind as I haven’t listened to him in years.

    @JASON – Thank you!

  5. says

    One of the best posts I’ve read about Michael and his connection to Generation X.

    I wasn’t a sooper dooper fan, like you, but Thriller is the only album on my Palm Pilot and his music hasn’t left my brain.

    I saw an interesting Lisa Marie post on myspace, was it the real LMP? I dunno. But she said basically the same thing. Except of course about the relationship part.

  6. says

    @TR – You said exactly what I thought – he gave $300 million away in his lifetime, died nearly in bankruptcy and the tragic clown line, so true. iwant to remember the best of him…

    @RE – It was amazing. hahahahaha!

    @UNDERSTANDING ALICE – I love that – spare a prayer for the family he leaves behind. Especially the children.

  7. Understanding Alice says

    its true, Im 34 and jacksons music filled my childhood, but we all moved on. I guess all thats left is to say “how brillliant he was” and to spare a pryer fot the family he leaves behind.

  8. says

    Wow Wow Wow. You’ve nailed it. I think a lot of us fell in love with Michael at one point, absolutely sure we’d be the one picked out of the crowd if we ever got that close. And then, exactly, the tipping point. Our beloved magician, extraordinary hero, and secret big brother, capable of bringing the world together – the one we thought could heal the world – turned into a circus clown right in front of our eyes.

  9. says

    @NAOMI – You must have guessed – a part of me feels bad for leaving him. We, figuratively weren’t there when he died. And, yeah – it was too far outside the boundaries. Rest in Peace, Michael Jackson

    @ANDI – I’m so glad I’m not the only one feeling these bizarre feelings – a loss that’s taken so long to fully embrace. First he was gone and now, really gone. Thanks, Andi.

  10. says

    @KT – What great memories. It makes me feel closer to all my members of my generation when i realize we all really did have similar experiences. I guess we’re old enough to start talking about it, huh? This week, someone on Twitter was talking about Ben and rats, and I was like – WOW. I thought I was the only one who remembered that.

  11. says

    @REBECCA – I remember that you were a huge Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 fan. The Michael you fell in love with was different than the I fell in love with, but I loved the music of both those Michaels. In his later years – I can’t name one song. Like I said, I left him. It really is sad. The vision of you dancing to his music at 12 – makes me smile. Big. Little Becky.

    @LOREN – I’m glad he was looking to a revivial when he died, too. And I agree – best to say it all TODAY – EVERY DAY, leaving nothing undone. =(

  12. says

    My thoughts completely mirror yours. I was the biggest fan until the day I wasn’t. Until the day I no longer recognized who the MJ I loved was. And now that everyone is doing news stories and playing the old music, I too am missing the old MJ that was such a strong influence on my childhood.

  13. Naomi Munn says

    Sometimes people change so far out of our boundaries that we cannot follow — at least in this lifetime. Mourning is loss, and loss is mourning. But change is always just change when you’re on the inside.

  14. says

    I can SO relate to this. I was a Michael Jackson fanatic in 1982 and 1983. My family used to go to Detroit several weekends a year to see shows, sporting events and visit family, and I loved to buy all my MJ posters and buttons there, because it seemed extra authentic.

    I can also relate to that sense of confusion and repulsiveness when he became someone else in my eyes. Thanks for articulating that experience so well.

  15. says

    My first non-Sesame Street “record” was Thriller. My friend and I danced to it on her front lawn (she had a tape recorder). So Michael Jackson’s music really marks a turning point in my childhood. I’m sad for his family, but I’m glad he was feeling on the upswing when he passed. He seemed to be fighting to revive himself. That’s a good way to pass. Farrah Faucet’s death is sad as well. She was so bravely public about it toward the end of her battle with illness. Both people remind us to say and do what’s really important, because whether we are famous or not, we don’t have an option for more time than we’re meant to have.

  16. says


    MJ was born the August before my December birth in 1958. He was 50. I am 50. He was too young to die and too old to have as many issues as he obviously still had.

    What I know to be true for me is this: I’m thankful the fame that MJ found has eluded me…

    His music was brilliant. And~ for the remainder of my days every single time I hear HIS SONG “I’ll Be There” I’ll think of him. He was just a regular boy then…before fame influenced his choices and before he felt the need to change from black to white. The song catapults me back to the Sock-Hop at Cedarlane Junior High in Hacienda Heights, California and I’m dancing the night away with another man-child who left the world far too soon. I was about 12.

    “…Born To Amuse, To Inspire, To Delight
    Here One Day
    Gone One Night

    Like A Sunset
    Dying With The Rising Of The Moon
    Gone Too Soon…”

    Great Post, Sista!


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