Tuesday, July 07, 2009


The Michael Jackson mania has mostly passed me by. Although I thought his moment in the 80s--"Billie Jean," the moonwalk and his other moves, "We Are the World"--was brilliant and energizing, those were the last years that I followed what's new in pop music. He would have meant more to those who were younger and starting to pay attention then.

Mostly I felt the response was inflated and overwrought, with such patently false claims as, his was the only music shared by several generations, children to grandparents. That's been true of a lot of popular music going way back, but the most obvious case in point is the Beatles. And I guess that's my generation's point of reference. The Beatles had many more memorable songs and a series of breakthrough albums that dominated popular culture for a decade, etc.

So I was prepared to just wait this media circus out. But I did hear some words from the memorial in Los Angeles today that made me take notice. Those words came from black people--musicians but also sports stars Magic Johnson and Kobie Bryant--paying tribute to Jackson as a breakthrough artist for all black entertainers, paving the way for global stardom. They would know that history better than I, though I do remember that black artists didn't get on MTV until Michael Jackson broke that barrier. So for that, and for his charity work, I make my peace with Rest in Peace, Michael Jackson.

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