I know yesterday saw the deaths of two icons. But, at heart, I'm a musician and an entertainer so I have my bias. You will forgive me that (because it's my blog).
Michael Jackson, in his later years, was a target of ridicule and law suits. Perhaps it was justified, perhaps it wasn't. For the record, I have made my fair share of pedophilia jokes. Even counting all of that, Michael Jackson rises amongst the highest firmament of entertainment stardom. His songwriting, his singing, and/or his dancing has inspired countless performers after him. And his album Thriller is the best selling album of all time ... ever ... in the entire world, if not universe. He knew how to write. He knew how to sing. He knew how to dance. If he could have fit acting and ending war in there, then we'd call him a god.
Yet he is a god. He climbed to heights of fame and fortune and popularity that many of us aspire, in some fashion or another. He was not just America's, like Elvis ... he was the world's. He could weather any storm and still be loved.
And his music.
MJ was a musical genius. His songwriting. His ability to capture a hook. The way he could manipulate you into empathizing with the message he was trying to put across.
And his showmanship, to include his dancing and stage presence. What? It's been ages since you've seen him perform? You're too young to remember? Well, sift through these videos and witness the man who has inspired so many entertainers you see today. When he danced, MJ defied the laws of physics. I remember the first time the world saw the "Moonwalk". There was a universal gasp, followed by "How the F*CK did he DO that?!"
He wasn't perfect. But then, who among us is. What he was was good at what he did. And what he did was bring some joy and some magic into our lives. And that, my faithful readers, is enough to take a moment and reflect on who we are and what we are doing to influence those around us.
I mourn the loss of another innovator. I mourn the loss of another musical genius. I mourn the loss of another entertainer who will inspire another generation to keep the arts alive. I know you mourn with me.
I will leave you with the first popular music video (or popular music anything) my father and I shared. I don't quite remember how old I was ... perhaps twelve or thirteen ... but I remember being up way too late on a school night. I remember sitting in the living room with my dad. Just the two of us. I remember MTV being on, which was a major oddity in my house. And I remember this video coming on. My dad said something along the lines of, "This guy's a bit of a fruit. And I don't like this song ... it's pretty demonic. But he can sure dance." And he and I watched the entire video. It was the first time that my parents implicitly let me enjoy secular music. It was the first time I was permitted to enjoy modern music openly that I had enjoyed privately with my oldest brother. It was the first time I was introduced to the music of Michael Jackson.