The day after the biggest news of the decade hit the front pages around the world, I thought Michael Jackson's death would quickly be old news, specially given the Internet standards... Nothing could last long after such massive overload. But this is the biggest news of the decade and Michael Jackson is the biggest pop artist of the past century. Unlike Michael, the news hasn't died, and it will last long, like Michael's memory.
That's quite good, cause though I've waited a bit not to post in the heat of emotions, it's still hot. On the other hand, this might feel like - who am I lying to? This is just another little piece of the Michael Jackson craze. But here goes a little story on how I came to enjoy his music, and specially why.
I was born twenty years ago, in 1989, during the Bad era. But even though the Michael mania had reached worldwide proportions years before, my constant changes of addresses with my parents and their more conservative tastes prevented me for even realizing there was a 30 years old man (can you believe it? That full grown man still looked like a teen back then) owning the pop universe. Michael Jackson still had 20 years to live. Or should I say, to endure. After Bad, his life was going to change - and so would his music.
The earliest memory I have of Michael Jackson? Some images of the Ghosts video and his constant appearances on TV because of hanging his third child over the window and later because of the child abuse trials. That's kind of funny, I'm not sure if those images of Ghosts in my head are from its release. That's 1997, and it coincides with another memory of mine, the kids from my clas.s arguing whether Michael did rock or pop (he did both, after all, though a lot more of the latter), so that may be it. And then there were the trials, so that's 2005 and by friggin 2005 and my sixteen years I still did not know what was the big deal about him. I knew he was supposed to be insanely famous, and supposed to have been black.
What I do perfectly remember is what my maths teacher said to his (and therefore my) clas.s in 2005 or 2006, when some of his students were laughing at the composers (like Mozart or Bach) he mentioned in his many off topic dissertations:
"Look, people have been listening to Mozart for three hundred years now. Do you think people will be listening to Michael Jackson in three hundred years?"
Back then, I was already deep in my flute studies, I didn't play anything pop at all, so I couldn't agree more, and that summed my feelings on MJ up pretty well.
Jackson was acquitted and faded out. He still had four years to live.
My life went on, and now it's December 2007. A friend, spending his holidays in Paris shows me Elite Beat Agents. Because of this game, our hot topic is music. For some reason he insisted I checked Michael Jackson, specially his Billie Jean performances. Why not? So, I checked it. It was electrifying indeed. Unique dancing. Loads of s.tyle. I couldn't stop checking all Billie Jean renditions he performed. But it felt like, you know, my new fad. I would eventually tire off of it.
I decided, however, to check the lyrics I couldn't catch by listening to it.
"She says I am the one..."
Your average love pop song, I thought. Only enhanced by the performer.
"But the kid is not my son..."
My jaw literally dropped. I'm not kidding here. It did drop, it dropped big time, and for one second I was in absolute haze. That song, that very song I had been listening for days, the song the audience was going crazy for, the song that young man was singing with such passion, was it really talking about such a serious matter?
I. Was. Sold. Pop was, as far as I knew, an easy, mainstream, shallow genre. But that was deep. The man who wrote that had to be at least that much profound. To date, I believe Jackson's strongest ability are his writing skills, above dancing, composing and singing. Given how he dances, composes and sings, that means a lot.
Faced with some concerns of my own, I forgot about Jackson for a while. Until I met a guy, who would become a great friend, and who was obsessed by the King of Pop, early 2009, this very year. Right when Jackson was getting ready to announce his next tour. He had five months to live.
And I would jump back into his universe. Not limited to Billie Jean and the Thriller era this time. I listened to everything I could, watched all there was to watch, read all that was available... I couldn't stop it, I had to find an answer to the enigma Michael Jackson was. And then came March 2009 and the new shows were officially announced. I was aware Michael was way past his prime and obviously didn't expect a new Thriller - but to witness a new development in his career was exciting nonetheless. I never planned to attend the tour, but to know the artist you are fascinated for is an active one has a totally different feel to it and it refreshed my search for that answer: what's Michael Jackson from the inside? How can a person like him even happen?
June 25th 2009, I was bored and decided to check a movie. There was that Notorious B.I.G. one. I only knew his stage name, so I thought it might be nice to have some insight on him. It was a great movie for a newbie like me and I was really moved by the ending and the images of his funeral. I asked myself:
"If such a young rapper, with such a short career and development, could trigger that much reaction, I wonder what will happen the day Michael Jackson dies..."
As that thought crossed and frightened my mind, Michael Jackson only had a few more thousand heartbeats to go, and I had my answer that same night. As a matter of fact, I couldn't sleep because of the worse storm I've seen ever since I left Brazil. I was fully awake when I received a text message on my cellphone, telling me the immortal Michael Jackson had died.
The Blood on the Dancefloor album second track, Morphine, had called for it:
"A heart attack, baby!"
That seems ages ago. But it doesn't seem that long since Michael Joseph Jackson invented - he didn't reinvent anything - pop. Or when he sang with his brothers with crystal clear voice.
Jackson invented pop and invented it so well no one has done significant pop ever since. I don't know much about pop aesthetics, but any meaningful music has got depth, sincerity, magic. All of those died with Michael Jackson, as pop music became an industry. Today, I am not so sure people won't listen to his music in three hundred years.
With Michael's death, we lose our chance to witness what could have been the biggest comeback ever. But my mother, who isn't really a fan of Michael Jackson, but knows her share about him, had a nice thing to say about it: Michael Jackson has done everything he could. Instead of mourning what his broken health took away from us, we should celebrate what his fight against it has provided: nothing less than Bad, Dangerous, HIStory, Blood on the Dancefloor, Invincible. All of that instead of This is it, yes, I take that deal. Thank you Michael for not giving up halfway through, where so many wouldn't be able to take it.
Why didn't he give up when all the trouble in his life started? Well, because of one belief:
"If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with."
- Michael Joseph Jackson
And he sure knew he was loved. For he knew that, I'm at peace.