Saturday
Jun272009

« Jacko »

Today must be the day when more Michael Jackson music was played in a single 24 hour span than ever before. It was as if a head of state, a pope, or even the King of the World had died, given the overwhelming outpouring of emotion all around the world. It is rather much, eh? The news shows managed to forget about everything else in the world that usually consumed our attention, just to mourn a freak who won't be doing his little song and dance anymore. If you want a distinctly different bit of commentary on his life and legacy, why not read James Howard Kunstler's blog?

I was not a fan of his, but seeing how he was everywhere in my youth and his influence stretched so far and wide into the culture around me, I had no choice but to go along for some of the ride. He has been the butt of more of my jokes than my adulation, to be honest. It occurred to me that I have never heard a single Michael Jackson album all the way through. Odd, considering his enormous stature and influence over pop music in the very same time bracket during which I have listened. Indeed, his name was one of the first I ever heard of back around 1982-83 when I got hooked on AM radio—the Mighty 690 was our local station to which I was glued for a couple years before they changed formats. At that time I had a friend who talked about Michael Jackson, but when I heard the music (I guess it had to be Billy Jean then) I had no knowledge of male falsetto singing voices or any of that so I swore it was a girl singing and thought my friend—a Mexican who logically could have mispronounced the name—meant to say Michelle Jackson. I guess that was good for a chuckle until Jacko became increasingly effeminate over the years. (The same friend did rightly report that a famous rock drummer did lose an appendage, but he got his facts wrong at the time. It wasn't Tommy Lee of Motley Crue who lost just a hand, it was Rick Allen who lost an arm.) A radio commentator talked about the Jacko voice, noting how he came on strong as a kid, with the guts and gravel of a seasoned soul singer at least twice his age, and growing wispy and smooth as time went on.

In this time of economic trouble, it is interesting that one of the most fabulously wealthy guys in the world died in debt to the tune of $400 million or so. He also ironically owned the rights to Beatles music which should have been cause to be richer than sin. There was a song they wrote that he later owned. It was called "Can't Buy Me Love." Maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere?

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