Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Michael Jackson

All this to prove we cared. Why is there then
No more to tell? We turned to other things.
I haven't any memory—have you?—
Of ever coming to the place again ...
from The Exposed Nest by Robert Frost

Nine years ago today, I was in Riviere-du-Loup on my way to New Brunswick for my mother's funeral. My mother and I had not had good relations. I had stopped for the night and had missed the news about Michael Jackson that, I presume, had broken overnight. 

I knew something had happened as soon as I hit the top of the stairs on my way down to breakfast that morning but didn't know what. I had a feeling much like you get when you walk in on a tense conversation without knowing what it's about. Our unconscious brain is always scanning the environment and mine must have picked up significant behaviours in my fellow guests.

I hadn't thought about Michael Jackson in years at the time of his death. He hadn't any good music in the last 27 years of his life. Indeed, except for two CDs, Off the Wall and Thriller, Jackson's output was pretty thin for his entire career. It's a touchy point with Jackson's fans, but both of those records were produced by Quincy Jones.

The problem is not that Jackson wasn't talented. He was phenomenally talented. But, like Nadia Comăneci, he wasn't a fully developed human being at the time of his greatest fame. He and Madonna are both about about four months older than me and Comăneci a little more than two years younger. The four of us grew up, or, in Jackson's case didn't grow up, together. The two women, whatever we might say of particular moral choices they have made, are fully developed human beings. Jackson never was. You could, and many have, treat him as a victim to be pitied. I know I wouldn't wish his life on anyone.

Would I let him off the hook? I don't know. I think the kindest thing we can do is simply to forget him. He should be no more than a footnote in Quincy Jones' life story.

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