Friday, June 26, 2009

A Michael Jackson Kind of Day

I was in my hotel room in Chicago yesterday afternoon force-feeding myself with breathless cable news stories in preparation for last evening’s taping of WWDTM. There wasn’t much hard news on. Every channel was focusing on the sad but not unexpected death of Farrah Fawcett from cancer. I turned off the TV and took a short nap. When I woke up and turned the set back on Farah Fawcett was nowhere to be seen. I don’t want to say it was as if she never lived, but it was certainly as if she never died. Now, the day belonged to Michael Jackson. And today does too, and probably tomorrow and it will go on until we’re so tired of hearing about Michael Jackson we’ll wish he weren’t dead. Plenty do already, I know, and for pure good reasons.

He was an exceptional talent, no doubt about it. My wife who is younger than me has shown me enough videos and played enough MJ songs today to remind me of that. I was a little out of his demographic to really feel the loss of him in the way she does. When John Lennon died I felt it. Elvis, not so much. The Beatles were part of my soundtrack on the way up. Elvis was just before that. Michael Jackson just after. I guess the people who make the music we listen to when we first start being affected by music are the ones we bond with. If I outlive Bob Dylan it will be a very bad day for me when he goes. Neil Young, same deal. These guys wrote my youth. Michael Jackson – he did that for a lot of other people.

I expect it will take about three weeks before people start spotting him in shopping malls or in blurry beach photos from Tahiti. Michael Lives! will scream from the tabloids as you reach for your Tic-Tacs at the grocery store. A woman in San Antonio will see his face in a tortilla. Previously unreleased singles and outtakes of videos will sell millions. When artists die they lose control over all the material that wasn’t good enough for them. The really great ones know how to edit and cull. And, I suppose, they know when it's time to exit.

One happy thought to this whole thing: Jenny Sanford and her four sons. That big dumb media eyeball has swung away to brighter lights. One last good deed from the Gloved One. I’m sure Mrs. Sanford has given a prayer of thanks for that tonight.


Blogger Lorrieann said...

I enjoy listening to you on WWDTM each week.

I know what you mean about Farrah's disappearance. I am not at all happy she's been so unceremoniously swept to the back burner. I was appalled to hear Larry King mention that "we were going to do a tribute to Farrah tonight, but she's now old news."

We now have to endure wall to wall Jackson.

But I guess I can empathize with the public grief of his demographic. I felt it when John Denver died. That hurt a lot, and still does.

Ah well.

Nice article.

12:11 AM  
Blogger TimFXF said...

1. MJ was a bit of a freak. People forget/forgive his peccadilloes, like his appetite for young boys.... The news cycle is full of MJ.

4319. That's the number of our men and women who have died in Iraq. We should care so much about them too.

12:04 AM  
Blogger CameronL said...

Your comment about singles and outtakes is right on. I just heard a story yesterday that MJ had a whole album recorded plus hundreds of other recordings in the can. "They'll be milking that," was the first thing I thought of.

2:12 PM  

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