Klinger: All right, Mendelsohn. I was 13 when this album exploded into our culture, and for a young teenager in the early ’80s, Thriller was quite literally everywhere. It became so ubiquitous—and so tied with the tweens that were fast becoming his primary audience—that I couldn’t help but resist it with every fiber of my being. This seemed to be a record custom made for the Silver Spoons and Facts of Life set. It wasn’t the rock that I was just starting to fall in love with, so on top of all that I just couldn’t process its sound—Eddie Van Halen notwithstanding.
But as much as Michael Jackson’s astonishing fall in the ’90s made it impossible to assess Thriller’s impact, his posthumous beatification has made it just as impossible to be realistic about this album. So there’s never really been a good time to talk about Thriller, but in the interest of Counterbalance, we have no choice.
Mendelsohn: Oh my. I have to say this and then I will move on. This guy was a complete freak and to this day, I am still amazed that there are people out there who can be brought to tears by the mere mention of his name. Do you remember when we were at the local watering hole, quenching our thirst on the day Jackson died? That was a spectacle. And then the bartender gave everybody free shots, but they weren’t good shots, they were weird and fruity and left a strange taste in my mouth. Completely befitting the man we were drinking in remembrance of.