I probably shouldn’t have been, but I confess I was shocked when I learned of Michael Jackson’s death. What has shocked me more, however, is the massive amount of media attention it received and continues to receive. Even today, the NY Times online had two, if not more, Michael Jackson stories on the front page.
One of those was an interactive one…choose your favorite MJ song out of the eight choices given, and tell us why. Picking a favorite MJ song is like me trying to name the top ten books ever written. The real answer is, “whichever one I’m hearing now”. You can tell I’m right by the comments, which included a lot of “Why didn’t you include (pick a title)”? But it just so happens I’d been thinking about that already, and my favorite was one of the eight.
I’ve always thought of Michael Jackson as the perpetual Little Boy Lost. As he got older, he just became sadder, more pathetic, and more bizarre. He had no frame of reference about what it meant to be a kid, and therefore how to act as an adult. He’s like a figure in a Greek tragedy, so what I’m not surprised about is that his life ended so soon. Can you picture a Michael Jackson at 70 years old? Being a mentor? An elder statesman of music, so to speak? Like his own mentors Berry Gordy or Quincy Jones?
It seems to me that his escalating weirdness, and his inability to grasp reality made him the saddest person in the world. He so wanted to be happy, and to make others happy, but he had absolutely no idea how to do either one. It’s my theory that that’s the source of our continued sadness about his death. We all so wanted him to be happy too, but we kind of had a clue that would never happen. That chance is lost now. But truthfully, that chance was probably lost about 45 years ago.
So here’s my favorite. It’s my favorite because I think it says who Michael Jackson wanted to be and couldn’t, because his head was full of snakes.