Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP, Michael Jackson

"Oh my god," a coworker yelled from down the hall. "Michael Jackson died."

Really? Michael Jackson? I thought. Huh ... Weird. Huh.

Since hearing the news I've been keeping tabs on people's responses. I expected jokes and I've seen a couple, but mostly people have been respectful and sad. A couple of DJs at KRQ, the local top-40 station, referred to him without irony as the pop musician of the century.

Me, I wasn't as overwhelmed by sentiment. What I felt, mainly, was discomfitted. And not quite able to articulate why.

But listening to Michael Jackson songs in the car, it struck me how intertwined music is with our own lives. I heard Vincent Price's cackle, and I didn't just think, Oh, that's "Thriller." I thought, I'm 13 years old, watching MTV at my grandparents' house. I heard the opening strains of "Man in the Mirror" and they transported me back to the cafeteria at Indiana University, where I carried my tray to the dinner table as his voice came through the PA.

I wasn't his biggest fan. Some of his songs I liked a lot. Others I didn't. If I were to compile a list of musicians I felt a real connection with, he wouldn't be on it.

Still, the whole thing feels weird. He was here, and now he isn't, and something is missing.


DeppityBob said...

Yeah, I'm kind of weirdly detached, too...his music was big in my young adult years, but I knew even then that he was an odd sort. (If men had a way to prove their virginity, "Billie Jean" would have never been written.) They're saying now he was anorexic, a prescription drug addict, an alcoholic, and that it was no surprise he died this young. The creepy thing is, it's better in a way that he did, before he became an old, scary Michael Jackson.

cinderkeys said...

Well, not good for *him* exactly, but better for his image. It occurred to me, after musing about how he'd died so young, that I couldn't imagine him at 80.

And death reverses aging. Sometime between hearing he'd died and listening to the third Michael Jackson song played in tribute, I think I'd already replaced my mental image of his 50-year-old self with his Thriller-era self, before he'd replaced his entire body with android parts.