Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sweet and strange Michael Jackson -- Part One & Deux

A wonderful column by Bill Wyman was printed in today's Wall Street Journal on Michael Jackson, so I penned the following letter in response.

Bill Wyman’s column on Michael Jackson was poignant, perfect and much-needed.
To understand Mr. Jackson’s life and music, we must look at Parts One and Deux; it divides almost perfectly in half – he lived to age 50, and it was at about age 25 that he became an enigma to us and, perhaps, to himself.

I am 49 years old, so my timeline almost parallels that of Mr. Jackson’s. I remember the transcendent voice of “Got to Be There” and “Happy” that I sang along to incessantly as a child; it is a voice that comes along once in a generation, filled with benevolence, jubilation, optimism, poignancy and love. Mr. Jackson’s 1st solo album, Off the Wall, was a teenage continuation of all those wonderful adjectives. I and my girlfriend at the time must’ve danced to “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” a hundred times.

The album “Thriller” was a mixture of that serene youthful spirit with something ominous, sullied and strange: “the kid is not my son” and the horrid graphics and theme of “Thriller.” Then came the Third World garb, the Glove, the defacement, the lurid crotch-grabbing, the godhead persona and the constant world of Neverland.

As I have done with Elvis, Lennon and many others, I will listen only to the early years and glory in those wonderful, electric, ingenious spirits (Part One) – and I will ignore the rest (Part Deux).

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