Well, if you haven’t heard about the passing of Michael Jackson, I’m assuming you are pretty much brain dead….Wow, how did you all react when you heard that news? I know, we’re not talking about the death of a Kennedy or anything, but I really think that I will remember where I was when I heard the news. I was in my truck going to pick up my daughter, Kenna, when KSL radio sent a news alert to my phone saying he had been taken to the hospital and it didn’t look so good.
Now, I am not what you call a true blue, fanatic kind of Michael Jackson fan, but I did like a lot of his music and videos. When his songs come on the radio, I know the words, and most of the time, they make me want to get up and boogy. (Okay, stop laughing!! You get my point!)
There is no doubt that he was, and is, an American icon. He has made a huge impact on pop music in my life-time. His career has spanned about the length of time that I have been alive. So, I can hear a Michael Jackson song and be taken back to a time and place in my life when the song was a hit. Music is very powerful that way.
I remember when the Thriller video was made. It was like nothing I had seen before. It was so creative and fresh… set to a catchy song he had written and recorded -- it had a story behind it, a horror movie screen legend – Vincent Price -- doing a voice over, brilliant dance moves, great choreography, and wonderful special effects. I was riveted every time I saw that video. His music has always been there playing as part of the soundtrack to my life and to many people of my generation. Each decade seemed to have another song that became a hit and played over and over on the airwaves. I don’t think that anyone would argue that Jackson was a musical genius.
It is very unfortunate that he had so many problems in his life. Rather than think about all of the accusations and his legal troubles today, I have been thinking more about the man. I was thinking about when he was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey several years ago. Some of you will remember that interview. That was the first time I had seen the artist’s vulnerable side. It was clear that no matter how much fame and fortune this man had achieved, he still did not like himself. He talked about not being able to look in the mirror and how unhappy he was with his skin and the color of his skin. In the following years, we all watched as he went in for surgery after surgery to change his appearance. This man had so much going on inside of him… so much music to be let out… It is a shame that he was so uncomfortable with his face… even going so far as to hide it under a mask when he went out in public.
As I thought more about the span of his career over the past few decades and the fact that his light has now burned out, it left me feeling a little empty inside. It just felt so much like the end of an era. It made me feel old even though I know he died relatively young. The thing is that pop culture icons like Jackson become so immortalized by their music, that it is really difficult to believe he is actually gone. In a way, he never will be. There is no doubt he will live on through his music. Like other icons--such as --Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and James Dean, the images of Jackson will forever live on in American culture and around the worldpermanently. So, to the man Michael Jackson, I say, “Rest in peace.” And to the musical legend, it is clear, that his image, icon status, and music will live on forever…Like him or hate him, he is permanently sewn into the fabric of American pop culture, and that, I can respect.