MJ Book Club - Michael Jackson Book Discussion (Old Books and New)

2000moonwalker

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I've read moonwalk along with "my friend, Michael" by frank Cascio which was interesting but sad, I'm not sure if he is 100% a reliable source though.
 

rolerprod

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ive read two books on mike lately one was the bodyguard's book and it was a 10 out of 10 for me and the other one was my friend michael by frank and while i loved it up till the end he started talking about the fake tracks and defended them saying it was all politics trying to push the family out of mj's life and that pissed me off,any one with working ears could tell that wasnt mike so that chapter put the whole book in a question mark for me like if he's willing to lie about that what other stories did he lie about in it?
if i had known before hand he'll try to justify the tracks on the book i wouldn't have bought it so im letting anyone whos interested know he did just that.
 

Mikky Dee

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ive read two books on mike lately one was the bodyguard's book and it was a 10 out of 10 for me and the other one was my friend michael by frank and while i loved it up till the end he started talking about the fake tracks and defended them saying it was all politics trying to push the family out of mj's life and that pissed me off,any one with working ears could tell that wasnt mike so that chapter put the whole book in a question mark for me like if he's willing to lie about that what other stories did he lie about in it?
if i had known before hand he'll try to justify the tracks on the book i wouldn't have bought it so im letting anyone whos interested know he did just that.

The bodyguards' book is a must read for any fan, in my opinion, because it includes a period in Michael's life that is not often written about and it comes from a unique perspective. I have never read Frank Cascio's book.....I don't think it offers anything interesting enough for me to want to buy it. Thanks for the heads-up regarding the content towards the end of the book.
 

AChanceToDance

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Has anybody read the book "When the Sheikh met the King"? I would like to know if the book goes in depth with the songs MJ made in Bahrain.
 

Hiker

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I have read first few pages of the bodyguards' book. It paints Michael's last years as sad, out of control and they were there to rescue him. I don't know how much of that is true and how much dramatized.
 

zinniabooklover

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THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

Yesterday I finally got around to reading Moonwalk. I know I'm probably the only person here who hasn't read it. I don't usually read autobiographies and I never had any interest in Michael's personal life. But @ScreenOrigami has a really good review of the book upthread and I realised that it sounded very different to your typical autobiography.

And it is. To create the book Michael recorded his thoughts and then his collaborator formed them into a coherent narrative. It feels a bit like you are sitting down with Michael as he flips through a bunch of photo albums and tells you stories as he goes along. It works really well and it does feel as if you are in a conversation with Michael.

I loved this book and read it in a single day. I felt a twinge of regret that I hadn't read it earlier but then realised that now is the perfect time for me to read it. I can understand and appreciate it so much more now. For example, because I've listened to the two depositions I can understand and enjoy Michael's comments on his songwriting process much more.

I love the fact that it's not a traditional autobiography. He doesn't drag us through a conventional story about his family and personal life. We don't hear about his schooldays or childhood friends. The story is chronological but it's all about his experiences as an amateur and then professional performer. It's an unusual approach and I can imagine Michael recording his thoughts as he copes with his crazy busy schedule.

HERE ARE THE SPOILERS

On P.11 Michael says this:

"So I very much identify with anyone who worked as a child ... I feel old for some reason. I really feel like an old soul, someone who's seen a lot and experienced a lot ... "

I'm not clear on his use of the phrase 'old soul'. He could just mean he feels physically old because he's been working for so many years. Or maybe he's also referring to the spiritual idea of an old soul. Either way, I find myself interested in what Michael has to say even though his comments always carry a shadow of sadness.

I did learn some new stuff. I didn't know the Jackson 5 toured Africa (the Jacksons did, IIRC). Apart from Senegal, Michael doesn't name specific countries that they visited. This is a section where I would have been asking for more details if I was talking to him.

On P.114 I learned that J5 had done backing vocals on Stevie Wonder's awesome You Haven't Done Nothing. So I had to go and listen. Wow! Those doo wops - beautiful. And how come I never knew this? Stevie literally sings:

"J5 sing along with me"

I don't remember hearing that. Maybe I was too busy dancing. Or I was distracted by the awesome bass line. :D

Probably the most interesting part for me is when Michael namechecks 'Patches', a song by Clarence Carter from the 1970's. On P.150 Michael says:

"I had always shouldered a lot of responsibility , but it suddenly seemed that everyone wanted a piece of me. There wasn't that much to go around ... I had to learn to be wary of some of the people around me ... For some reason I always found it very difficult to say no to my family and the other people I loved."

He's talking about the Blame it on the Boogie period. Clarence Carter's song is about a poor sharecropper's son who has to step up and be the man of the family. The chorus goes like this:

"Patches, I'm depending on you, son
to pull the family through
My son, it's all left up to you"

Another set of lyrics, which are spoken not sung, go like this:

"And at the age of thirteen I thought I was carrying
the weight of the world on my shoulders"

I get the impression that Michael had to do a lot of heavy lifting in the family but I had thought it was post-Thriller. Had no idea it was as early as this. I understand that family dynamics are complicated but I did find this section really poignant.

Although I love the way the book has been created there is a downside. Sometimes it feels a bit superficial or rushed. Michael has a lot of ground to cover and you get a really good overall picture of his working life but you don't always get much detail. It took them 4 years to pull the book together; I just wonder if enough time was set aside for it. Michael was super busy at that point and always juggling multiple projects at the same time. I wish it could have been possible to carve out just a bit more time for the book.

Another weak point is the photos. There are plenty of them, which is great, but the presentation is poor. Most are b&w and printed on normal paper which keeps the production costs down but also lowers the quality. Visually, the book isn't wonderful. Maybe the original hardback was better but this paperback is far from perfect.

Overall, though, I loved it. I'm so glad it's still in print.
 

Hiker

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I love the fact that it's not a traditional autobiography. He doesn't drag us through a conventional story about his family and personal life. We don't hear about his schooldays or childhood friends. The story is chronological but it's all about his experiences as an amateur and then professional performer. It's an unusual approach and I can imagine Michael recording his thoughts as he copes with his crazy busy schedule.
Good to know this. I was hesitating to read it because (1) he wrote it quite early in his life compared to most autobiographies I have read (2) he did not 'write' it in the traditional pen-to-paper sense, so I was not sure if the narrative really captures the spirit of what he wanted to say or if there is commercial dramatization etc. Will finish it now.

On P.11 Michael says this:

"So I very much identify with anyone who worked as a child ... I feel old for some reason. I really feel like an old soul, someone who's seen a lot and experienced a lot ... "

I'm not clear on his use of the phrase 'old soul'. He could just mean he feels physically old because he's been working for so many years. Or maybe he's also referring to the spiritual idea of an old soul. Either way, I find myself interested in what Michael has to say even though his comments always carry a shadow of sadness.
I read that part. In my opinion, he is talking about feeling old because he has already seen so much more in his current life compared to most people of his age. I don't think he was referring to the spiritual idea of old soul - which refers to someone's soul being reincarnated many times that they have collected wisdom of many earlier lives. Though the way he carried his childhood, his aura and everything points to him being an old soul to those who believe in that part of spirituality.
 

zinniabooklover

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Good to know this. I was hesitating to read it because (1) he wrote it quite early in his life compared to most autobiographies I have read (2) he did not 'write' it in the traditional pen-to-paper sense, so I was not sure if the narrative really captures the spirit of what he wanted to say or if there is commercial dramatization etc. Will finish it now.


I read that part. In my opinion, he is talking about feeling old because he has already seen so much more in his current life compared to most people of his age. I don't think he was referring to the spiritual idea of old soul - which refers to someone's soul being reincarnated many times that they have collected wisdom of many earlier lives. Though the way he carried his childhood, his aura and everything points to him being an old soul to those who believe in that part of spirituality.
Yes, I agree. I want to think about it some more but, on balance, I'm pretty sure he means he feels physically old. Not old as in 'old soul' as a spiritual idea.

But I also agree that the 'old soul' idea does apply very neatly to Michael. I definitely think he can be understood as a repository of wisdom.
 

MacMandy90

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Good to know this. I was hesitating to read it because (1) he wrote it quite early in his life compared to most autobiographies I have read (2) he did not 'write' it in the traditional pen-to-paper sense, so I was not sure if the narrative really captures the spirit of what he wanted to say or if there is commercial dramatization etc. Will finish it now.


I read that part. In my opinion, he is talking about feeling old because he has already seen so much more in his current life compared to most people of his age. I don't think he was referring to the spiritual idea of old soul - which refers to someone's soul being reincarnated many times that they have collected wisdom of many earlier lives. Though the way he carried his childhood, his aura and everything points to him being an old soul to those who believe in that part of spirituality.
It was a very unique sensibility of the writing of his book, to me very intriguing. The was the first actual book I ever read about him, roughly freshman year in high school, my brother got me a copy as a birthday present, original first edition and I was floored with excitement. I read the whole book in a day, and I just keep reading it over and over, to me it always feels like I'm literally sitting with Michael reading this hearing his own words, love this book.

I can agree with that, there are many types of what can be considered as an old soul in a sense of degree; for his stance and his path, that's what his soul definitely was how he carried himself through life.
 

zinniabooklover

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It was a very unique sensibility of the writing of his book, to me very intriguing. The was the first actual book I ever read about him, roughly freshman year in high school, my brother got me a copy as a birthday present, original first edition and I was floored with excitement. I read the whole book in a day, and I just keep reading it over and over, to me it always feels like I'm literally sitting with Michael reading this hearing his own words, love this book.
Oh, way to go, brother! What a fabulous birthday pressie. That is so lovely. Your brother must be a cool guy.

Yeah, me too. Read it in one day. Getting ready to read it a second time. And yes to the idea that you feel as if Michael is right there with you. It was an incredibly strong feeling all the way through.
I can agree with that, there are many types of what can be considered as an old soul in a sense of degree; for his stance and his path, that's what his soul definitely was how he carried himself through life.
Yes, I think this is what I was trying to get at. This sums it up really well. So much to think about.

God, I love Michael Jackson.
 

staywild23

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Although I love the way the book has been created there is a downside. Sometimes it feels a bit superficial or rushed. Michael has a lot of ground to cover and you get a really good overall picture of his working life but you don't always get much detail. It took them 4 years to pull the book together; I just wonder if enough time was set aside for it. Michael was super busy at that point and always juggling multiple projects at the same time. I wish it could have been possible to carve out just a bit more time for the book.

Another weak point is the photos. There are plenty of them, which is great, but the presentation is poor. Most are b&w and printed on normal paper which keeps the production costs down but also lowers the quality. Visually, the book isn't wonderful. Maybe the original hardback was better but this paperback is far from perfect.

Overall, though, I loved it. I'm so glad it's still in print.

Others have touched upon some of your other points, so I wanted to touch on this... I totally agree with you. As a writer myself who loves literary memoir (very different from celebrity memoir, mind you) as much as I adored the book, I felt a little frustrated at times feeling like certain pivotal moments were rushed through, or like he wasn't being fully transparent. I noticed this most when talking about his family. Though he spent a significant chunk of the book on the Jackson 5 and Jacksons era, I felt like he still rushed emotionally at times. There are so many places I wanted him to slow down and just let it all out. But this is why I think most people don't write autobiographies or memoirs until they are 40+... notice how much more open Michael grew as he got older? He reflected differently on his childhood and the impact it had on him. If we were to get a post-40, or post-50 memoir from him, wow. It would be so different, I am certain. I also think he may have been more comfortable writing it himself once he was older. From what I understand, he did a lot of those recordings while on the Bad tour. I believe the ghostwriter/editor said somewhere that after shows they would sit and talk and make recordings for him to use later. Writing memoir is extremely hard...when you add that he was also having to speak his truth to a person first who then had to translate that into something, well, it makes totally sense that he was rushing in some places, or not being fully transparent in others.

I constantly hope there are some memoirs, or another book of essays or poetry, in his children's possession and that they will someday publish them. Michael wrote a lot, from what I understand. I can't imagine drafts of work don't exist floating around somewhere. That's definitely wishful thinking on my part, but oh well. I want what I want!

Either way, as I mentioned in that other thread, I really loved the book overall and I am dying to read it again. Reading Moonwalk was actually the first thing that made me think he was completely innocent of all the things he's been accused of. Spending so much time in his brain, I felt like I actually understood him in a new light. But this is only a couple weeks into becoming a fan, when I still had some doubts and uncertainties about him. Now I think I would be able to appreciate it on an even deeper level.

Note: I should clarify that when I said he got more open as he got older I mean he seemed to reflect more on the impact of his childhood and “connect the dots” about who he was, so to speak. I am talking more about how he opened up in the Martin Bashir interview and the Schmuley tapes than his regular interviews (btw, I see major ethical issues with watching or listening to either of those things, but I fully admit that I have).
 
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zinniabooklover

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Others have touched upon some of your other points, so I wanted to touch on this... I totally agree with you. As a writer myself who loves literary memoir (very different from celebrity memoir, mind you) as much as I adored the book, I felt a little frustrated at times feeling like certain pivotal moments were rushed through, or like he wasn't being fully transparent. I noticed this most when talking about his family. Though he spent a significant chunk of the book on the Jackson 5 and Jacksons era, I felt like he still rushed emotionally at times. There are so many places I wanted him to slow down and just let it all out. But this is why I think most people don't write autobiographies or memoirs until they are 40+... notice how much more open Michael grew as he got older? He reflected differently on his childhood and the impact it had on him. If we were to get a post-40, or post-50 memoir from him, wow. It would be so different, I am certain. I also think he may have been more comfortable writing it himself once he was older. From what I understand, he did a lot of those recordings while on the Bad tour. I believe the ghostwriter/editor said somewhere that after shows they would sit and talk and make recordings for him to use later. Writing memoir is extremely hard...when you add that he was also having to speak his truth to a person first who then had to translate that into something, well, it makes totally sense that he was rushing in some places, or not being fully transparent in others.

This. 100% I did love the book and I'm glad they did it the way they did. But it is also problematic. Although, I don't think it's so much the approach they used as the lack of time. I can see the advantage for Michael that they did it like this but also the problems. I don't know how a ghostwriter works when it's done in a more standard way but I assume there would be more time for the two of them to talk and the ghostwriter would be able to encourage a degree of reflection where it might help the process (or even the end result). It does feel 100% Michael's authentic voice but it is uneven. That said, it was a brave thing to do. Especially given the stuff he revealed about his family and his conflicted feelings about them. I thought that was just an incredibly brave thing to do. No wonder he had a wobble at the end and didn't want to publish. Thank goodness he changed his mind about that.

I mean, just referencing the Clarence Carter song was pretty brave. No way the family could misunderstand the point he's making there. Teatime at Hayvenhurst must have been a bit tricky after the book came out, lol.

I'm actually really glad the book is the way it is. The real frustration is in the fact that we don't get a follow-up. For Michael to produce another volume now, if he was still here, would be beyond sensational because the thing would no doubt look and feel so different. I think he would still need a ghostwriter because I think they would help him with the overall balance but, oh man, it would be so good. Would have been, I should say.

Btw, I often talk about Michael in the present tense. I know he's dead. It just comes naturally and feels right. It's not me being deluded or weird.

Either way, as I mentioned in that other thread, I really loved the book overall and I am dying to read it again. Reading Moonwalk was actually the first thing that made me think he was completely innocent of all the things he's been accused of. Spending so much time in his brain, I felt like I actually understood him in a new light. But this is only a couple weeks into becoming a fan, when I still had some doubts and uncertainties about him. Now I think I would be able to appreciate it on an even deeper level.

Oh, this is so interesting. I think I had a similar experience. Everything just shifted and things I thought were clear became clearer still.

Note: I should clarify that when I said he got more open as he got older I mean he seemed to reflect more on the impact of his childhood and “connect the dots” about who he was, so to speak. I am talking more about how he opened up in the Martin Bashir interview and the Schmuley tapes than his regular interviews (btw, I see major ethical issues with watching or listening to either of those things, but I fully admit that I have).

This is the thing. It's wanting those mature reflections from Michael. Because we all change our thinking and understanding of things as we go. I'm sure there would be significant challenges in producing another volume after everything that he had been through but I think it could have been done. I want the extended interviews and the autobiographies.
 
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