The Michael Jackson Phenomenon


The death of Michael Jackson, the King of pop, this last week has shaken us in a way that few things do. Was it because he was so young when he died? At age 50, he certainly wasn’t old, but many millions of people the world over don’t live half that many years. Very few of us actually knew him, so it wasn’t that he was a friend or someone that we were personally acquainted with. Still, he was a presence in most of our lives. Alicia Keyes, a well-known recording artist, may have said it best when she said that Michael Jackson’s music was the “music of our memories, the music of our dream”. So many of us grew up on that music. We associate it with special times in our own life journeys. It is part of us. For that reason, when we learned of his death this past week, it had an unusually profound affect on us.

Much has been written and viewed this last week on the phenomenon that is Michael Jackson. It is a story of triumph and tragedy. One report called it the ultimate American dream coupled with the quintessential Greek tragedy. And so it was. How could someone so supremely gifted erode into such a caricature of himself. What was it that turned him into such a bizarre entity, one whose behavior not only lifted eyebrows but also involved police investigation. How sad that someone so admired and envied somehow seemed to feel that he needed to constantly be changing his appearance and persona.

Certainly it couldn’t have been that he wasn’t good enough. He was VERY good. We loved that little boy who charmed us with his brilliance at the age of eleven when he first started nationally appearing. We loved him as a young man when he moved his body with such precision and rhythmic force that we were left completely captivated and mesmerized. We loved in the incredible voice that counseled us through son that it didn’t matter if we were black or white. We loved the edgy, dynamic Thriller music so much that we made it the number one selling album of all time.

The events of this past week have caused people to reflect, to remember. Some have said that they’ll remember where they were when they learned the news of Michaels’s passing in the same way that they remember where they were when they learned of the death of President John F. Kennedy or Elvis Presley.

We may never know all the demons that lived in michael’s psyche and the struggles that he dealt with along with his amazing fame and fortune, but he has enriched the lives of countless millions of us through his incomparable music and for that, we thank you, Michael Jackson.

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