Friday, July 10, 2009

My Man Michael...

With some dust settling over the death of one of our country's most tremendously talented sons, and some dust just beginning to be stirred up... I feel the time is finally right for me to weigh in on the life and music of Michael Jackson.

Dropped and then firmly planted into the world of music by the time I was six. Michael Jackson served as much a purpose for shaping my early love of beautiful sound as did The Beatles, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and Prince. Easily noticed by me, Michael's never ending charisma and enchantment drew me in with undeniable gravity to see him as the true embodiment of "captivation" that he was. My love of his music, dance, and presentation of both was not special from the same love shared by others all over the world... but it did at times seem that it was. Hidden behind my bedroom door, volume cranked up on the record player, practicing Michael Jackson dance steps, I became a part of the MJ experience. Billie Jean, P.Y.T., The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal, Jam, Who Is It, and virtually every other Michael Jackson song triumphed over my much of my music listening for over 15 years. Nothing that has happened in the subsequent years has ever eliminated that past from relevancy.

There will always be cynics who take cheap jabs at the deceased King Of Pop. There will always be those who work to discredit Jackson as a kook or diminish his contributions by overshadowing them with allegations of questionable character. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to attribute only one descriptive word to him... Love. Michael Jackson existed as the person he was, solely because of Love. Whether it was his love for children and the fans of the world or the absence of love from his father and mother; love played a critical role in shaping this man into who the rest of us got to know through his interviews, music, and most of all his treatment of other people. Jackson created whole worlds where children could feel safe. I doubt that he ever said a cruel word to a child or anyone else for that matter.

Michael remained a child himself until the day he died. It isn't a joke or a forced self characterization for him to say (as he did several times) that he was Peter Pan. Never really allowed to grow up, Michael spent his entire life, from cradle to grave, surrounded by people who exploited him in ways completely similar to those found in third world countries, but made commercially lucrative by the rest of the world. Not one single person ever looked out for Michael Jackson. The fans who loved him more than any blood relative ever seemed to, were never granted the type of access needed in order to actually help him and it's quite possible that even some who said they loved Michael, would have continued to see him merely as personal entertainment had they been granted that access.

I for one have spent the last decade dealing with a heart that ached for the man each time some news tidbit surfaced or each time he came on television and tried to be himself. I would whisper under my breath "they won't understand you Michael". When the final blow came, and he was actually charged and put on trial for the molestation of children, it was difficult for me to comprehend guilt or innocence. I could easily see him as someone who would non-maliciously conduct himself inappropriately with children but I could also see him as someone who was capable only of loving a child without inhibition and in a completely non-sexual way. Almost loving them the way I believe God loves us. Either way... Michael loved people and his ability to love others with such foreign brashness is ultimately what led him to become the naive wreck we saw over the last ten years.

Michael Jackson NEVER lived in the same world as you and I. He NEVER learned to look at things and people the way we do. Jackson NEVER had a practical approach to survival because his life was never practical. He didn't become famous as an adult and he wasn't one of those child stars that burn bright, then fade in their twenties, left to find a new path of survival that forces a reality check. This man grew up in a fantasy, matured (if you can call it that), in a fantasy, and perished... still very much immersed in a fantasy. How can our understanding of life possibly be used to decipher the behavior and conduct of Michael Jackson?

I choose to stay grounded in what I did know of the man. His known actions displayed incredible love. His known actions displayed incredible childishness. His known actions produced incredible and historical catalogues of music, dance, and life to the fullest. In many ways I've been mourning this man for the last ten years. Now... because of his death, I finally have the contented and quieted heart necessary to say... rest in peace Michael... and I am completely confident that God is providing that for him.

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