Michael Jackson 1958-2009

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I heard on NPR last night that Michael Jackson had been take to the hospital.  It sounded serious.  It crossed my mind that maybe he died, or would die.  He hadn’t seemed healthy in awhile.

Then, I went to Wayne State University for a free night of entertainment.  Detroit’s having a month long festival, to make up for not having the usual Detroit Festival of the Arts.  They showed the movie A Great Day in Harlem, about the famous 1958 photo of 57 great jazz musicians.

The piano, bass and drums trio, The Bad Plus played.  I’m not very familiar with their music but they were in good form.  They have a sort of “free jazz” edge to what they do.  Anyway, they mentioned Michael Jackson and I’m thinking “He must have died or else is at death’s door.”

They said that musicians will appreciate Michael Jackson for his music, not for strange spectacle of his life as he lived it, the hoopla, the troubles.  I agree with that.

Then, this morning, getting ready for work, I hear that he did die.  Details:  he was broke and in debt and that he was getting ready for a huge comeback tour (did he record any new music?)

Then, a lady from Gary, Indiana remembered him as a small child, one of the neighborhood kids, playing.  She said that he had signed something for her about six years ago, on a visit to Gary.

Then, on the bus to work, we drove by the old Motown building on Grand Boulevard here.  There was a crowd and a memorial, with flowers, a giant teddy bear etc.  There were tv crews too, broadcasting and interviewing.

He may go down as one of the greats.  He’s not as prolific as James Brown or Ray Charles.  He’s not a great songwriter like Smokey Robinson or Stevie Wonder.  Michael Jackson was a talented, sometimes magical performer and singer.  Some of the Jackson 5 material is wonderful. 

Off The Wall is probably my favorite.  Thriller and Dangerous had plenty to like or to love, some fine sounds.  I even liked his 2001 record, Invincible.  There were some weak songs but most of it sounded fine.

Yes it’s all quite sad, but I’ll keep going back to his work.  He was some kind of singer, dancer and musician, with a real “sense of swing.”

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One Response to “Michael Jackson 1958-2009”

  1. Rick Lieder Says:

    Off The Wall is my favorite, too.

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