Anthology, Jackson 5
Mowtown, July, 1976
Track Listing: Disc 1: 1. I Want You Back, 2. Who’s Lovin’ You, 3. ABC, 4. Young Folks, 5. Love You Save, 6. I Found That Girl, 7. I’ll Bet You, 8. I’ll Be There, 9. Goin’ Back to Indiana, 10. Mamma’s Pearl, 11. Darling Dear, 12. Never Can Say Goodbye, 13. Maybe Tomorrow, 14. It's Great to Be Here, 15. Sugar Daddy, 16. I'm So Happy See All, 17. Sing A Simple Song / Can You Remember, 18. Doctor My Eyes See All, 19. Little Bitty Pretty One, 20. Lookin' Through the Windows, 21. Love Song
Disc 2: 1. Corner of the Sky, 2. Touch, 3. Hallelujah Day, 4. Daddy’s Home, 5. Get It Together, 6. Hum Along and Dance, 7. Mama I Gotta Brand New Thing (Don’t Say No), 8. It’s Too Late to Change the Time, 9. Dancing Machine, 10. Whatever You Get I Want, 11. Life of the Party, 12. I Am Love, 13. All I Do Is Think of You, 14. Forever Came Today, 15. We’re Here to Entertain You
“And it’s too late, too late to change the time”
-from “It’s Too Late to Change the Time”
It’s 1994 and it’s the end of the world. You’re driving through Gary Indiana. Your friend Bill is pointing out the drug bars to you. You pass rusted shop-front grates, blackened and hollow windows, dirty alleyways. Dark deserted apartment blocks. It’s the most depressing place you’ve ever seen in your life. Just minutes before Bill was sick to his stomach in the backseat of your rental car. You’re on your way to Michigan. You’re on a mission. You pass a biker bar. “That one,” Bill says. “The Hells Angels drink here.” You drive slowly. Only one thing is on your mind. The Jackson 5. You can’t get them out of your head. You can’t get over the fact that from all this dirt and dilapidation, from all this desolation, rose one of the most talented musical families in American history.
Full of color, self-contained
Tuned and gentle to your vibes”
Afterwards, the scenery is awe-inspiring. Crystal blue lakes. White sand dunes. Miles of thick, swallowing green. Blueberries and gnarling, winding shrubs. You pass a brown sign. Welcome to Michigan. Bill is shooting up heroin in the backseat of your car. You’re stuffing yourself with a Double Whopper with bacon and cheese. Yesterday you were on the west side of Chicago helping Bill score drugs. It was like some bad ’70s film. Some underground novel. No one would ever believe you. You would write about it one day. But the novel, like everything else in your life, never got past three chapters.
“You and I must make a pack
We must bring salvation back
Where there is love
I’ll be there”
-from “I’ll Be There”
Bill lives in a cheap one-bedroom apartment in an old Art Deco hotel in Uptown Chicago. He grew up in Hesperia, Michigan, joined the Merchant Marines and then became a computer programmer. His wife and family lived in Michigan and he commuted weekly to Chicago for work. Soon he got sucked into the huge and magnificent nebula-machine that was the black and gold city by the lake. He fell in love with a kid named Joe who he’d met in a bar called Connection. Joe was a hustler. He introduced Bill to the sweet and solacing ways of getting high. Later Joe was one of the first persons to die from AIDS in Chicago. Bill never got over him. So he let himself get sucked down just a little more like Joe. Now he was alone with a nasty habit and HIV positive. He worked on a sometimes-there-sometimes-not job for a printing company. He hadn’t seen his children in years.
“I’m goin’back to Indiana
Back to where I started from
I spent my weeks with greener pastures
I still ain't found what I was after”
-from “Goin’to Indiana”
It’s dark and you’re sitting in a trailer somewhere in the middle of Michigan. Some cousins or aunts or uncles or friends or family of Bill are talking to you all at once. There are about ten of them and they all seem to live in the same trailer. There is no place to sleep except the floor. You step in a warm spot of baby pee on the shag carpeting of the trailer, a memory that stings for the rest of your life. You go to bed without supper. In the morning you wake up to one of the most beautiful places in the world. The greenest green you’ve ever seen. Towering trees. The smell of pine. Miles of green that fuse from the grass through the moss and the leaves to the trees and up into the clearest and bluest sky. A sky that seems to reach out forever. There are mosquitoes as big as cats. You think of Hemingway fishing. You think of the dark green hills in Northern Italy where Hemingway was shot in the war. The green pastures on the hills out west where Hemingway shot himself to death. Only then do you realize that which you have always known: beauty and art, all beauty and art, are born from the same pool of misery and pain. From every sick and greasy piece of dirt pushes up the sweetest and most buttery rose. You take a deep breath and suck it all in. You feel like you are the most golden and thrilling superstar in the world.
“Now, now, now
I’m gonna teach you
Teach you, teach you
All about love, dear, all about love”
Bill is quiet when you pull into the driveway. The screen door flies open and his two teenage kids come running out as fast as forest deer, flying out as if the whole trailer just caught fire. You can see the deepness of their youth through the huge holes of their mouths as they drop wide open. They run up to the car and hug their father. You step back and watch quietly. This is probably what the first spike feels like, you think to yourself, when it sticks sharply and sweetly into your vein. And then you think back to your own childhood and your own golden neighborhood where you grew up with all its sad and ugly aluminum trailers. All the ugly dust and twisted sagebrush. You think of how you played with all the neighborhood kids and your brother on the soft green of your front lawn as the sun went down in summer. You remember your mom’s cigarette glowing hot and red on the porch in the dusk. You remember all the fabulous and incredible colors of late ’60s television. Josie and the Pussycats, Scooby-Doo, The Osmonds, the bright colored shirts and tight sparkled flares of the fabulously fantastic Jackson 5. So young. So beautiful. So bright. Like shiny stars screeching out to the big blue world that would never let you down. That would never end.
“And, oh, I’ll be there to comfort you
Build my world of dreams around you”
-from “I’ll Be There”
You’re driving back to Chicago. Bill is telling you about all the underground and secret places beneath the city. There are labyrinths and underground passages connecting basements and buildings. He is on fire and can’t stop talking, as if he knew some secret mystery buried deep beneath the jewel city, beneath all the green and gold tiles shimmering above the Carbide & Carbon Building (your favorite Chicago building squashed amongst the other glorious superstar skyscrapers that crown the place you would always call the most beautiful city in the world). You smile and let Bill keep on talking.
And the world does not end. It does not stop. Only moments in time. And sometimes. Sometimes all the sad but beautiful people who guide you along the way.